Summary: God doesn’t cause trouble and adversity, but He uses trouble to refine some humility in us. While trouble causes some people to raise their faces to heaven and become bitter, others bow their knees before God and become better.
Have a Slice of Humble Pie
by David O. Dykes
Maybe you’ve seen Jeff Foxworthy’s “Redneck” list. He says, “You know you’re a Redneck if…”:
1. Directions to your house include, “Turn off the paved road.”
2. You take your fishing pole to Sea World.
3. You have flowers planted in a commode in your front yard.
4. Your Dad walks you to school, ‘cause you’re both in the same grade.
You’ve got to be from the country to even laugh at those statements! In East Texas, we aren’t rednecks, but we are country folks, and because Green Acres is in a small city, I think of our church as a country church. I read a similar list the other day. It says, “You know you go to a country church if…”:
1. The church votes not to buy a chandelier because nobody knows how to play one.
2. The opening day of deer season is a church holiday.
3. A member requests to be buried in his 4-wheel drive truck because “It ain’t never been in a hole it can’t get out of.”
4. Folks think the “Rapture” is what you get from lifting something too heavy.
5. The pastor asks “Bubba” to take up the offering and five guys and two women stand up!
If you understand the New Testament, you realize Jesus grew up in Galilee, which was considered the country. The followers of Jesus were labeled, “unlearned and ignorant men.” The sophisticated city folks in Jerusalem looked down on Jesus and were constantly looking for an opportunity to embarrass Him. In our passage today, He is only a few weeks away from the cross and we see the opposition against Him growing stronger. Let’s read beginning in Luke 14:1:
One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away. Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” And they had nothing to say.
In Chapter 13, I discussed their hang-up with rules being more important than hurt people, so we won’t say much about this interchange. Instead, we will focus on the following parable:
When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “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. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Once again, notice the brilliant way Jesus taught. He told a simple little parable of people sitting down at a wedding feast, and then He applied the spiritual principle. Look again at the spiritual principle in verse 11: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” This is one of the wonderful paradoxes of Jesus that is totally contrary to the way the world thinks. The world says if you want to climb higher and be somebody you must push, fight, claw, and work your way to the top of the heap. The world says the way up is up! But Jesus says just the opposite. He says the way up is down. In other words, if you try to promote your prideful self, you’ll end up humbled. And He also says the way down is up. The Bible says specifically in James 4:10 “Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.” So, contrary to what the world is teaching you, the way up is down and they way down is up. As we consider pride and humility I want to speak on “Have a Slice of Humble Pie.”
I. THE PROBLEM WITH PRIDE
Pride is basically the attitude that says, “‘I’ am the center of my universe.” As Jesus watched these Pharisees, He noticed they all jockeyed for position to sit in the best seats at the dinner. It is still true in both the Middle East and the Far East that seating positions are a clearly defined part of their dinner protocol. Since visiting Asia, I have learned the host always sits in a certain place at the circular table, and the guest of honor sits to his right. The next most important person sits to his left, and so on. Everyone has a “place” and everyone knows his or her place. It’s like our concept of sitting at the “head of the table” or having a head table at a banquet. As Jesus observed the maneuvering of these men, He detected the poison of pride in their lives. Pride wasn’t just a problem back then, it’s a problem today. Let me mention two things that make pride such a problem. First: