Today’s reading: Luke 13, 14, 15, Proverbs 25
7 So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: 8 “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; 9 And he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. 11 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This parable by Jesus addresses our motives in serving and in our relationships. Too many times in Christian circles our image and our promotion is what drives our actions and decisions. We can appear spiritual but if selfish ambition is driving us we cease to represent Jesus and serve others on His behalf. James tells us that envy and selfish ambition produce confusion and every evil thing – Jas. 3:16. That is not good fruit.
James and John came to Jesus one day and asked him for a favor. They requested to be placed on His right and left when He came into His kingdom. They asked this in front of the other ten disciples which created quite a stir. The others were incensed they would make such a request. You can imagine this did not create harmony and good feelings among the disciples. Rather it produced confusion and temptation to give place to the enemy in their relationships with each other.
Jesus told them those places were not His to give, but the Father would make those decisions. He went on to tell them if they were to take their place in the kingdom, whether on His right hand and left or not, they would have to drink the same cup He drank from and be baptized with a baptism that brings death to selfish ambition in their lives (Greg Mohr paraphrase of Matthew 20:20-28).
We live in a culture that has made selfish ambition a virtue. It is not a virtue in any sense of the word. Rather, it is a work of darkness couched in spiritual desire. There is nothing wrong with following a godly desire to serve in the kingdom. But if we are to receive Jesus’ promotion to the place the Father has called us we must first circumcise our hearts from all selfish ambition. My choice to follow His call to service must not be from a motive of “what’s in it for me”.
It is impossible to bless those we are trying to impress. If our primary motive for serving in a particular role is to impress others, to build a good resume, or increase our financial statement, it is still about us. We are serving for the wrong motive. God is our promoter. Jesus came for the purpose of serving, not being served. That requires sacrifice and laying down the selfish motive of promotion.
Apply the cross to all such motives. Be willing to take the lower place in life and ministry. Let God promote you. Peace rather than confusion will fill your heart and follow your ministry. God’s grace and love will manifest through you instead of flesh and evil. Think about it.