Summary: God’s ways turn the world on its head
Field Dalling 02-09-01
Luke 14:1 and 7-11 Pride before a Fall
John Wesley and George Whitefield - the two great preachers of the 18th Century Evangelical Revival - were both great men of God.
Sadly having been great friends at Oxford, they fell out over the Arminian/Calvinist debate.
Basically the Calvinists say that God chooses us and the Arminians basically say that we are saved because we choose God - and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
There was quite a bit of animosity between their followers.
Once one of Whitefield’s followers said to him:
"We won’t see John Wesley in the heaven, will we?"
To which Whitefield humbly replied "Yes, you’re right, we won’t see him in heaven. He will be so close to the Throne of God and we will be so far away, that we won’t be able to see him. !" .
What a lovely attitude Whitefield had. His humility was real
Despite profoundly disagreeing with Wesley, Whitefield recognized John Wesley as being a man of God.
Indeed the respect for the other was so great that when Whitefield died in The USA, John Wesley preached at George Whitefield’s memorial service in London.
This morning’s Gospel reading is also about pride and humility – in other words our attitude about ourselves.
And I would like to focus on one verse - Luke 14:11
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled - and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Pride in ourselves should have no place in the Christian’s life. Paul puts it well when he says in Phil. 3:8 that he considers everything his standing in the world – his achievements and social status as loss compared to knowing Christ
What is the context of Jesus’ comments?
Jesus had been invited to attend a meal at the house of a Pharisee and he watched how people were jostling for the most important places at the table.
And he makes a comment on what he sees by way of the parable of the arrogant guest.
Now it seems to me that Jesus is not really interested about who got the best place at the meal.
Rather he was using it as an opportunity to get people to examine ATTITUDES about themselves.
I think Jesus is speaking about two attitudes in this passage.
The first is fairly obvious - their attitude about themselves.
The second attitude might not be so obvious.
It was their attitude about.others.
1. Let us look at the first attitude - their attitude about themselves
Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus being more interested in ATTITUDES. For Jesus it is attitude that shape ACTION.
For example in Luke 6:45 Jesus said
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Quite the reverse of how the world sees things.
Many today think that the end justify the means.
If we are going to be men and women of God – who really make a difference in this world, then our view of ourselves have to be different.
Story: In the 18th Century, Selina Countess of Huntington invited the Duchess of Buckingham to come and here George Whitfield preach.
The Duchess wrote to the Countess of Huntington about the Gospel that Whitefield and his fellow “Methodists” preached as follows:
“ It is monstrous to be told that you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches that crawl on the earth.
This is highly offensive and insulting; and I cannot but wonder that your Ladyship should relish any sentiments so much at variance with high rank and good breeding.” (George Whitefield and the Great Awakening – John Pollock p.95).
That letter tells us a lot about her for even one of her easygoing acquaintances found her obnoxious.
Her pride closed her ears to the Gospel. For it is when we realise that we are “sinful as those common wretches” that we can be open to the Gospel
Pride is one sin that a Christian should not have.
2. Let us look at the second attitude that Jesus alluded to – their attitude about others.
Their attitude about their own self-importance about themselves reflected their attitude about others.
By pushing and shoving their way to the more important places at the meal, the guests of the Pharisee showed what they thought of the others present.
As they jostled their way to the top of the table, they were indirectly saying – you are not important enough for the seat that I am going to take.
And Jesus said that if we do this we will fall. Someone will put us in our place. I wonder if any of the guests that day were in the crowd that cried for Jesus to be crucified on the first Good Friday. Sadly for some, their pride may have caused them to miss out on the grace of God for salvation.