The Parable of the Chief Seats

Jesus went to the house of a prominent or influential Pharisee (Luke 14:1) to eat and while there He noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table and told this parable.  Even though Jesus was being watched. He was watching them (Romans 14:7-8).  The dinner was the scene of a marvelous healing.  The parable tells how it is better to take the lowest place, thus avoiding the humiliation of the host asking you to move in order to make way for a more important guest.  If the host asks you to move up, you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests.  The first lesson of this parable is "everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 14:11) This very principle is found in Proverbs: "Do not claim honor in the presence of the king, and do not stand in the place of great men; for it is better that it be said to you, "Come up here," than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen" (Proverbs 25:6-7).


The kingdom of heaven is not based on status or rank, but upon humility.  It is easy to get so involved in this world and the importance the world places on prestige and honor that we do things to be seen and honored. Jesus had to deal with this problem among His own disciples concerning who would be the greatest.  Jesus said, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all" (Mark 9:34-35).  Why is it that even though we detest self-promotion when we see it in someone else we can still find "reasons" to promote ourselves.  We need to be reminded that pride is destructive and selfish in the Kingdom.  Paul held Jesus up as the perfect example of humility.  Paul said that He didn't cling to position, but emptied himself taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross(Philippians 2:5-11).  This is the same kind of humility which should characterize us.  God only honors the person who comes to Him in humility and serves in humility.

There are different kinds of ambition.  There is the ambition of recognition—for applause.  There is the ambition of competition—the desire to win at all costs. There is the ambition of self-righteousness—the desire to appear better than others, more righteous.  Humility does not seek its own but depends on God to exalt us.  Jesus said, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will" (Mark 14:36).  Humility does not seek dominance over others, but rather to be a servant to others. Paul wrote, "For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Corinthians 4:5). Humility frees us to love and serve others selflessly, for their sake, rather than our own.   Humility does not seek self-exaltation but rather the glorification of God.  Paul commanded, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31).  Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues because it enables us to see the way God sees.  To live a life of humility, we must practice being submissive.  Do we really want to be a servant as our Lord?




"Daily Devotions by Guy Roberson"
Walnut Street Church of Christ


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