Month: July 2013

Living in light of eternity (Luke 14:12-14)

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12  He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14  and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14)

This parable is brought on by Jesus’ healing of the blind man on the sabbath at the feast put on by the Pharisee.  It follows Jesus’ parable teaching humility to the guests of the host.  Now in this parable Jesus focusses on the host and reveals the motivation in the heart of the host for why he invited those he did invite to his feast.  The initial two verses (12-14) are then followed by a parable which reveals God’s heart regarding whom God is inviting to His salvation banquet.

The compatibility principle:

Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 6:19-21 concerning how we ought to live for eternity, focussing on storing up treasures in heaven (which is lasting) rather than the temporary and fading treasures of this present life and world.

As believers we will all appear before God’s rewards seat (see 1 Corinthians 5:9-10) to receive what is due to us “for what he has done in the body whether good or evil”.  We are saved by grace, this is a reward ceremony but not everything will be rewarded.  How we live now really matters and will have an effect on eternity.  We ought to live every day in light of the reality of eternity.

Moses lived like this as we know from Hebrews 11:24-26.  His focus on eternity and his reward in eternity impacted his choices, strengthened his resolve to resist the temptations of sin knowing that sin’s offer of pleasure is fleeting but godliness will lead to pleasure & joy that is eternal.

What questions does it address, ask or answer?

What motivates our actions?  This first part of the total parable addresses the issue of not just of who we invite to what, but why we do the things we do.  These verses 12-14 address the issue of the motivation behind our actions.

These verses also bring the fore the issue of eternity and the relative value of the present compared to the supreme value of eternity.

What tension does this text create or resolve?

There is a tension in these verses between the outlook that considers only the present but ignores eternity and the outlook that lives a certain way now because of eternity.

When we see how much grace and mercy and generosity God has poured into our lives we the reasonable response is to love God and love people with the self-same love we have received from God.  And knowing that God will reward a godly response to His grace in our lives should motivate us to respond to His grace by living in light of eternity to come.

What mystery does this text speak to?

This parable speaks to the mystery of eternity, eternal life after death.  It raises the question what happens when we die?  Do how we live our lives on earth matter?  It speaks about the issue of rewards in heaven.

What happens when we die is;

“it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement” (Hebrews 9:27).

There is judgement for all after death, judgement for salvation – “Is your name in the Lamb’s book of life?” and then judgement for works how you responded to the grace of God in giving you salvation – “How did you live as a child of God?”

The first judgement is only passed by those who believed in Jesus (John 5:24) while still alive and received eternal life as God’s gracious gift.  The second judgement for the believer is not by grace but about the “good works God had planned for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10) having been saved by His grace.

The following passages all speak about rewards for the believer:

Romans 14:12, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Luke 14:12-14, Matthew 6:19-21,Revelation 11:18, Revelation 20:12, Revelation 22:12…

What issues in life does this text address?

Do we see people, do we value people as God values all people?

If we act in such a way as to advance ourselves, bless ourselves through using our time, money, possessions or hospitality we in fact are not blessed.  But if we use our resources to bless others, without the aim being to “get something in return” we then are blessed not by people but by God (“you will be blessed”).

If we seek to be a blessing, especially being mindful of those who are marginalized, God will bless us.  Those marginalized people will not be able to “return the favours” but God will repay you with blessing now and reward on the day of judgement into eternity.

When last did I show hospitality to the marginalized?  Not just inviting people round for meals hoping I would receive friendship in return, or that they would like me or think I am great….

How can I serve those who cannot pay me back?  How can I give of my time, my money, my resources to those who will never return it?

How can I be like God today – giving lavishly of Himself to those (us) who could never repay Him?

What does this text say about God, myself or others?

God wants me to be like Him, who gave to those who could never repay Him.  God is full of lavish grace, free mercy towards those who don’t deserve it and can never reciprocate so as to repay Him.

God rewards (“you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just”) those who are like Him in this life with their time, possessions and money.

God’s heart is inclined towards the poor, the hurting, the marginalized – He cares that we care for such people in such situations.  God affords honour to the marginalized.

Application

Godliness is the antithesis of selfishness.  Godliness will result in blessing others and especially blessing those who can not or will not return the blessing.

Seek to be like God, giving, blessing with no regard for what you can get back, but rather seeking to be like God, to reveal God’s love to others.

You will be blessed Jesus said and you will be rewarded in the realm that ultimately matters – eternity.

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Humility

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7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11)

Literary Context

Just preceding this is the healing of the man on the Sabbath by Jesus while Jesus was a guest of one of the Pharisees homes.  They were more concerned about Sabbath observance than about the person (the man with dropsy who gets healed).

Jesus has noticed something about how they arranged themselves at the feast, Jesus had noticed how they chose for themselves places of honour…

So this parable was then told by Jesus to those who were invited to the feast.

The compatibility principle

Right after this parable Jesus speaks a parable to the man who had invited Him.

The historical narrative of the last supper can also be compared to these two feasts.  That supper was one where Jesus humbled Himself and modelled true leadership to us.

It is also noted that we who believe in Jesus ultimately get invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb at the end of this age and the beginning of the next.

This passage is also linked to the other teachings on humility:

Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. 9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. (Psalms 25:8-9)

Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. 6 The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground. 7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! (Psalm 147:5-7)

For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. (Psalms 149:4)

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)

Thus says the LORD: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? 2 All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. Isaiah 66:1-2

Philippians 2:5-11 – Jesus’ example of humility

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7  but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Peter 5:5: Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (I Peter 5:5-8)

James 4:10: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. 

What questions does it address, ask or answer?

This passages deals with the issues of humility and pride and the wisdom/foolishness of taking honour rather than having it given to you.

Honour is best given rather than taken because “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled.” (Luke 14:11)

The big idea when reading through the various passages on humility is that we ought to humble ourselves and let God exalt, let God honour us in His time.

  • God leads and teaches those who are humble – Psalm 25
  • God lifts up the humble but brings to nothing the proud – Psalm 147
  • God adorns the humble with salvation – Psalm 149
  • Humility leads to wisdom, pride leads to disgrace – Proverbs 11:2
  • Humility is more valuable to God who made everything than anything else! – Isaiah 66:1-2
  • Have this in mind – Jesus humbled Himself and so God exalted Him! – Philippians 2:5-11
  • Put on humility, humble yourself so that God might exalt you at the proper time – 1 Peter 5
  • God gives grace to the humble but opposes the proud – 1 Peter 5

The humble person will be adorned with salvation, lead, taught, lifted up, given wisdom, valued and will receive grace from God.  The humble person will be like Jesus!

Honour is not taken but given.  Salvation requires humility in that we have to acknowledge our sin and our need of being saved.  And having been saved by God we ought always to be mindful of how we were saved.

Pride in the believer is an antithesis.  Compared to God’s majesty, power, holiness we are not in a position to have anything other than humility.  Considering our own sinful state and fallenness we really don’t have anything to be proud about.

We have not been treated by Almighty God as our sins deserved, we have been shown mercy and grace, we have been forgiven and set free from the entanglements of our own sin, we are recipients of grace, humble servants of our wonderful King of love.

The paradox is that because God loved us in spite of our fallenness, we have had the greatest honour bestowed on us, we have been so valued by God that He was die for us in our place and to crown us with salvation.

Although we are to be humble, we are honoured by God in the most remarkable way and given a position of honour within His creation for all eternity, not because we are good but because He is good, not because of what we did but because of what He did for us.

So worship God who bestows honour and glory on those who didn’t deserve it but received it through Jesus Christ.  To Him be the honour and glory forever and ever amen.

Application

The humble person will be adorned with salvation, lead, taught, lifted up, given wisdom, valued and will receive grace from God.  Scripture contrasts this positive outlook to the bleak outlook of the proud person who is opposed by God and who will be humbled by God…

Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?  Have you humbled yourself yet before God, acknowledged that self-salvation, reliance on self and human effort will ultimately fail, it will fall short of the requirements of God?

If not, then know today that receiving honour that lasts for eternity starts with humbling oneself, confessing that you are flawed and sinful, hopeless outside of God and God’s help.  Receiving honour starts with asking Jesus to be your Saviour, asking Him to forgive you from your sin and letting Him set you free from sin, shame, bondage and death.

The moment you do this, you get honoured by God, you get the privilege of becoming the child of God (John 1:12).

Are you a believer?  Then consider again your salvation.  Do you have anything to boast in (Ephesians 2:4-10)?  What do you have that you have not received from God as a gift?

The appropriate heart condition for the believer is humility & thankfulness giving honour and praise to the source (God) of all that you have received from Him.

Is there any situation in which you have sort to honour yourself?  Remember Jesus’ words; “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11)