For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Luke 14:11 (NIV, 1978)
Perhaps it’s a lesson that we begin to learn as children. In the game of “Musical Chairs,” the winner is the one who has managed to end up finding a seat each time the music stops playing. Ultimately, the game comes down to two people lustfully eyeing the one remaining seat as they await the moment the music stops. Pushing, shoving and violence on multiple levels often ensues in the scramble for the last chair. The victor is seated and the loser usually ends up sprawled on the floor.
Jesus was certainly not referring to a party game as He shared his words of instruction as to how to properly acquire a seat at a social function. In fact, His teaching had little to do with the actual position of the seat or how it was obtained. As always, Jesus knew His audience well and that the desire for position and honor was never far from the hearts of those who heard Him. His simple message was that honor is something that cannot be grasped by one’s own efforts, but rather it is something that is granted when one’s character or friendship is appropriately recognized. In this case, it is the host who bestows honor and publicly declares his affection upon a guest by moving him closer to the “head table.” Nothing is worse, Jesus said, than assuming you are more important than you are and having to give up your seat and to move closer to the back of the room.
Jesus’ words should not be lost on us. As we stand before Jesus one day, we will come to understand that there was no chair, no position, no title, or number of friends on Facebook that would have provoked Him to say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Hardly. Neither the accolades we rightfully earn nor the honor we have sought by our own self-promotion can compare to the recognition that comes only from the from Host of Heaven. He has invited us to follow Him in order that we might reflect His humility in this life so that when we see Him, we will be among those who get to share the best seat in the house!