Luke 14:7-9 “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.”
Like a moth is drawn to the light in a bug zapper, sinful pride is drawn to anything that makes us look superior to everyone else. The end result is similar, too. It’s not enough to have something serviceable or adequate, or even excellent or outstanding. Pride isn’t satisfied unless it make’s everyone else’s look inferior. This is what Jesus saw going on at the real-life meal in front of him. It was not enough to have a good seat at a great meal. Pride wanted a seat that made self look important, at least more important than you.
As much as this is a problem for how we get along with each other, it is an even bigger problem for how we get along with God. Pride wants the top spot. It isn’t even satisfied with a place next to the Lord. It wants his place for self. It wants to push God off his throne and crown itself king.
What does pride find as it seeks a place of honor? No one likes a prideful person except the prideful person himself. Think about your friends for a moment. They all have character flaws you are willing to tolerate or overlook. One may obsess too much about money or things. Another may be quick tempered. Another is too quick with his opinion. Still, you keep them as friends and enjoy their company.
But you probably don’t keep too many people as friends who think that you aren’t as important or valuable as they are. Pride doesn’t win us a place of honor in anyone else’s heart.
As a result, pride generally doesn’t get to stretch itself too high before it gets knocked down a few inches. We see this playing out in many different areas of life. History is littered with examples of rulers and dictators whose pride cost them their kingdoms. It has cost athletes championships, businessmen their fortunes. Time after time, rather than finding a place of honor, pride ends up losing it.
Nowhere is that more true than in our relationship with God. God holds each one of us so dear that he gave up his own Son Jesus to save us from sin and for himself. Not a single human being exists for whom he did not make that sacrifice. Paul tells us in Ephesians, “There is no favoritism with him.” He elevated us to be sons and daughters in his family, members of his royal court, rulers with him over the universe. We have been given a place of honor at his heavenly feast that far surpasses a table near the bride and groom at any wedding reception.
But pride lays claim on a seat in heaven only one man can claim. Only one place in heaven has been set for a man who earned it. It belongs to Jesus Christ. “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,” the angels and creatures of heaven sing. All the other places God gives as gifts.
So long as pride is insisting on a place it has earned, it cannot receive the place of honor God freely gives. Our Lord cannot let pride keep the place it wants. If we won’t receive the place he wants to give, he must send us down to a lower place–outside his feast. With God, our pride can only lose. Set it aside, and receive the place he graciously gives instead.