A Lesson in Humility

Luke 14: 12-14
Phil 2: 1-4 / Ps 131: 1-3

Humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others.
(Philippians 2: 3-4)

All blessings in life we receive
There’s no way that we can repay;
In turn that’s the way we must give,
As God’s Word has shown us today.

At dinner, Jesus said to His host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Because they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14)


Perhaps it was obvious to our Lord that His host had a self-serving motive for having invited Him to dinner. Was it to impress his peers that the “miracle worker” from Galilee was his honored guest? Or was he expecting something in return from Jesus, a kind of quid-pro-quo arrangement (no free lunch here), whereby our Lord could probably extol His host for the special invitation? In response, our Lord gave His host and his guests a lesson, or an indictment of men’s preoccupation with self-promotion (inviting only those with means or influence to maintain one’s social status), and instead extolled those who prefer to keep company with the humble. One invites the rich and powerful to exalt himself, but the other humbles himself by inviting the poor and the weak.

Those of us who have never known what it is like to be needy and underprivileged have much to learn from our poorer neighbors. They can teach us about genuine gratitude, which has become an “endangered species” among our richer friends and relatives. We can also learn from them how to value many things in life that we often take for granted. These precious lessons came to pass in one of the out-of-town trips that our running club took one summer vacation many years ago. The members of our club come from diverse strata of society: from wage earners, to students, to businessmen and professionals. Our fellowship is bound by a common love for the sport and exercise of brisk walking and running. Once a year, our club hires a big bus to travel to distant places of interest where we can run and frolic for a week-end. On this particular trip, the club decided to subsidize the expenses of some members who could otherwise not afford to come, as our way of rewarding them for valuable contributions to the club. At a swimming pool over some bottles of beer and wine, they all expressed their gratitude for this special favor, one even tearfully relating it was his first time to swim in a real swimming pool, and sleep in an air-conditioned room. The dramatic testimonies of our humble friends cut through our hearts, and had become the most memorable part of our trip, an enriching experience no money can buy, for which we will always be grateful.

Thank you, Jesus for teaching us that an act of charity to one poor neighbor is more rewarding than inviting a hundred rich friends and relatives.

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