Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate notes for the Sunday’s Message; Sunday, August 28, 2016

Scripture for this Sunday is Luke 14:1, 7-14

You can read this pericope here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

 

Do you want to be respected?

Do you want to be liked and have a lot of friends?

When you go out to an event (dinner, movies, baseball game) do you want the best seat in the house?

 

It is our human condition to want to be liked. It is part of our human nature to want the best for ourselves. At sporting events we want the best seats with the best view; those seats usually carry the highest price. They also carry the greatest bragging potential – it impresses people when we tell them that WE HAVE THOSE SEATS. We also like the best parking spots. Just watch people at the store. The best parking spots are the ones closest to the front door. Nobody wants the parking spaces out in the far end of the lot.

In Mark 10 we read that James and John (two of Jesus’ disciples) tried to get a “best seat” as well… “Grant that we may sit in Your glory, one on Your right and one on Your left … You see Jesus, WE WANT THE BEST SEATS in the kingdom, places of prestige and power…”

That is the natural response – all of us want the best…

Many of us have had a quiet chuckle as we observed people at banquets or office parties, weddings and even funerals trying to sit next to people they consider their social equals. We chuckle under our breath when we hear someone complaining that he or she was assigned a seat that we consider “bad” at some social function.

We laugh because we recognize that people can be so insecure that they actually measure their self-worth and self-esteem by where they plant their behind for an hour or two. We laugh until we realize that at times every one of us is just as insecure; and then we thank God that we have enough common sense to try to hide our insecurity or at least smooth it over.

{Illustration}

Today’s parable was given to Pharisees. Pharisees were what we would call today “church-going people.” They spent a lot of time in their “church” – synagogue. Pharisees were NOT what we would call the “upper class.” Just like most of us here they were the “lower to middle class.” They did not inherit their wealth, they earned it through hard work and they were proud of that fact. They were also proud of their moral status in society at the time; they knew the scriptures inside and out, their children were well educated and they were mission oriented. They knew there were people who did not know who God is, and they went after those gentiles with gusto and perseverance. They also took care of those in need. All-in-all, the Pharisees were not the villains that many Christians imagine them to be. But on that day 2000 years ago, as Jesus was observing some of the Pharisees maneuvering to get as close to the head of the table as they could, Jesus plainly saw the poison of pride in their lives.

Because of their education, Pharisees would recognize today’s parable as a reflection on the text from Proverbs 25:6-7:

6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men; 7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman…”

By giving us today’s parable, Jesus reminds us that honor and respect is not gained by seizing prominence; honor and respect must be earned by each of us and given by others.

Today’s parable is about hubris and humility. Hubris is easy to spot and all of us can spot it from a mile away. Humility, on the other hand, is a tough quality to describe. The moment we think that we’ve got humility, it is gone.

Humility has nothing to do with self-deprecation; humility has nothing to do with thinking that each one of us is a worthless wimp.

Humility is about an honest evaluation of who we are as individuals; who we are as the Bible describes us, as God sees us and as the Holy Spirit guides us. On one hand each one of us is a sinner who deserves eternal separation from God; on the other hand, God valued each one of us so much that He shed God’s own essence to pay for our sins so that we would have a chance and a place to spend eternity with Him.

Humility is found in the tension and the balance between these two realities.

Jesus came to seek the lost… When we think of Jesus coming to seek and save “the lost,” we disdainfully envision drug addicts, prostitutes, convicts, and the like.  But on a closer look, who could possibly be more lost than one who assumes, by virtue of his or her own righteousness, his or her own education, perhaps his or her own lifestyle, that he doesn’t need to be found?

Humility reminds us that it is us who need to be found. Humility reminds us that it is us who could be lost, humility reminds us that it is we, each one of us, who are standing in the need of prayer. Humility reminds us that it is us, each one of us, who needs God’s grace and love.

Paul writes in Romans 7 about what a wretched creature he is; a man who cannot refrain from sin. He says that he does not do the good things that he wants to do, but instead he does things that make him despise himself… What a picture of an internal struggle, a battle in the soul of a man torn by conflicting values!

But the story that Paul tells us does not stop there… In the very next chapter Paul writes about how we are deeply loved as children of God – heirs of God with Christ. Paul understood the balance and Paul lived in that balance. He wrote, “I know that nothing good lives in me…those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (Romans 7:18; 8:14) Another way to look at it is to remember Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) To echo that Paul wrote “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

That balance and that tension – THAT HUMILITY – keeps you and me from being an emotional wreck who never attempts anything great for God.

The Christian writer A.W. Tozer wrote: “The humble man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of inferiority. He may be as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that in God’s eyes he is more precious and important than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is the motto of the humble man.”

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