Luke 14:7 – 11 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
I can’t believe I’m telling you this. But it fits so perfectly with this parable.
Last weekend, Mark, the kids and I went to the San Antonio Riverwalk. We had a wonderful time! We walked and shopped and played all day, and by dinnertime, we were exhausted. Now, if you’ve ever been to the Riverwalk, you know that the restaurants are right on the main walkway. Tourists walk right through the restaurant, right between the tables while people are eating. On crowded evenings, you have to check in with the restaurant’s host or hostess before taking a table.
But how do they know? The place was so crowded, and as we were walking past, we spotted a free table. Funny how after eighteen years of marriage, you actually think the same thoughts as your spouse, at the same time. We looked at one another, nodded, and sat down. Without checking in with the hostess.
Scandalous, I know. But we figured it would be our little secret. We sat there with those cat-ate-the-canary grins on our faces, waiting for someone to come and take our order.
But then, we were busted. After about five minutes, the hostess approached our table and said, “I’m sorry, but you need to add your names to the list and wait to be seated. I have to ask you to move.”
How did she know?
Red-faced and giggling like a couple of junior high pranksters, we got up and high-tailed it out of there. Eventually, we found a restaurant that could seat us right away. But I have to admit, we got what we deserved. We were naughty. We cut in line.
One thing I’ve found about God is that He is very wise. When we follow His advice, things generally work out well. When we don’t, we often find ourselves in trouble. Embarrassed. Busted.
The truth of this parable doesn’t apply only to seating at restaurants and feasts. It applies to every area of our lives! When we put ourselves first, we will often be “put in our places”, and there’s nothing fun about that.
But when we put others first, when we look out for others’ needs and wants instead of our own, we won’t have to be embarrassed. And eventually, someone will notice, and will ask us to step forward. Eventually, we will be recognized for our selfless behavior, and asked to step into a place of honor.
So when you think about it, waiting our turn isn’t really a bad deal at all.
Dear Father, Please forgive me for the times I’ve put myself first at the expense of others. Help me to push others to the front, and look out for their needs.