“Bottom of the Pile” (John MacDiarmid)

Sermon preached at Poole Christian Fellowship on 12 May 2013

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Reference: Luke 14 v 7-14

We pick up the text just after Jesus has been exposing the Pharisees’ double standards regarding the Sabbath. Jesus is at the house of a prominent Pharisee and he uses the occasion to point out the false nature of their religious practices. He has just exposed their double standards regarding the Sabbath and He now moves onto to cover the area of humility – or in their case, the lack of it!

A few initial points about humility

1. It is not weakness

The world despises humility. It is seen as weakness and foolishness. Yet as we will see, genuine humility requires a strength of character and will makes thoughts of weakness irrelevant.

2. It is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit

Humility is not something that God automatically produces in us as we spend time with Him – though of course humility is a logical response to the presence of God. Rather it is something we choose:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another” (I Peter 5:5)

3. It is the expected lifestyle of every Christian

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2: 3-4)

4. It is modelled by Jesus

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! (Philippians 2: 6-8)

With these preliminary points in mind, let’s look at the passage before us today.

1. A Word to the Guests

Jesus notices how everyone is pushing themselves forward. They want to be noticed, exalted and to be in the pictured. Jesus points out that the lifestyle of the kingdom is exactly the opposite.
The fact is that when we know that we are accepted by God and loved by Him and that our service is only for Him, then whatever position we occupy becomes immaterial. Humility is about putting ourselves in the lowest position. It is a choice of the will that we place ourselves below others to serve them, allowing God to elevate us in his own way and time.

2. A Word to the Host

Note that hospitality is a given here – and it is to be a part of every Christians life.
It is not simply the guests who need a lesson in the value of the Kingdom. The host has invited his friends, the rich the influential and the popular – people who can give him something. People who it is good to be seen around, and people who can do something for us. How often we can be like this, giving ourselves to those from whom we get something. But to give ourselves to those from whom we will get nothing, those who can not repay us, contribute to our lives or make us better connected or more popular – that is the lifestyle the Kingdom.

3. A Word to the Wise

The message of this passage is surely that the values of the Kingdom of God are not about being seen with the right people, they are about humbly taking the lowest position for the sake of others and allowing God to exalt us in his own time. And that is exactly what will happen!

John MacDiarmid
May 2013

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