The Particular Importance of Not Being Particularly Important

Give up your hopes of being somebody in life. Instead, just be a nobody.

What’s his point? It’s not just about banquets, it’s a principle: those who try to be somebody will end up being nobody, and those who are nobody will end up being somebody. Driving it home, Jesus says, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:12).

 

If you’re interested in being somebody in your life, think again. Chances are, Jesus is not on board.

Take a step back to the first century and imagine a ruler of the Pharisees inviting you to a Shabbat dinner. This is a meal that Jews observe on Friday night, just after the sun goes down. You’re reclining on your elbow at a low, U-shaped table with the other guests. Your host is an important person, which probably means that you’re important as well, or at least think you are. Oh, and Jesus is there, too.

As Jesus looks around, he notices that many of the guests are choosing places of honor. Perhaps you have also wormed your way a little closer to the far right end, where the host would sit. After all, this position would better fit with the level of respect that you deserve, right?

Then Jesus starts saying, “Whenever someone invites you to a feast, don’t sit in places of honor.” Why not? In case someone else who’s more important than you comes in and you get moved down to the lowest place. “Instead,” he says, “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” (Luke 14:7-11).

What’s his point? It’s not just about banquets, it’s a principle: those who try to be somebody will end up being nobody, and those who are nobody will end up being somebody. Driving it home, Jesus says, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:12).

Next, Jesus turns to the host. Not usually one to care about tact, he essentially informs the man that he shouldn’t have done what he just did.

“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. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed because they cannot repay you” (Luke 14:12-14).

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