Summary: Patience and waiting on God’s recognition of us
How many of us remember as kids, the family Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? Do you remember sitting at that card table with all your siblings and cousins? Now how many of you remember that dinner when you were finally old enough to sit with the grown ups? No longer were you one of the babies, you had made the big time. While over time the thrill of sitting with the adults may wear off, for that brief moment you may have felt like royalty.
One of the disturbing things I have noticed about today’s society, especially among our younger generations is the need to have everything our parents have and more by the time we are out on our own.
For example, when I was teaching school, I remember one student, we will call him Les, had told me of his room at home. He had his own TV a 27 inch flat screen, a dvd/vcr player, a stereo system, a full size water bed, a gaming system, a refrigerator, and microwave all in his room. Les was only 15 at the time, did not have a job and he had used his Social Security money to buy it all. He was in the process of trying to get him self a cell phone and a computer to complete his collection of stuff.
However he is not alone, my own daughter, Kaitlin (who is only 10 years old) has many items at her grandmothers’ house that Luann and I would never dream of purchasing for her. She has her own VCR, a Computer, 3 different game systems including two different Game boys, a television, a portable DVD/TV, and even a cell phone. However, with all of this, she does not truly appreciate what she has.
For example, on a couple of occasions she has misplaced one of her Game boys, (she left it in a hotel room in Ottumwa), while she was saddened at the loss her response was, “Oh well, Grandma will buy me another one.” Les’ reaction was much the same when the something of his became damaged, or misplaced. “Oh well, I can just buy another one.”
What did Les and Kaitlin miss here? Neither one appreciated what they had before, because neither one had sacrificed anything in the getting of what they had.
So how does this relate to our gospel reading for today? Let’s look at what Jesus said to the crowd;
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 14:11 NIV)
On the surface what Les and Kaitlin had done, may not seem to relate to the Gospel story. However like Les and Kaitlin and their non interest in waiting to either earn it or receive it as a gift later, many people want the recognition for what they do, without having to wait to receive it. Certainly it is okay for parents to give their children nice things. But in the case of Les and Kaitlin, they were both given items in excess or above and beyond their basic needs and wants. They were given these items to the extent that now, they just automatically expect them. As I said earlier, even if an items gets broken or lost, their first thought is not “oh no, I broke or lost this item”, but rather “oh well, I will just get a new one”.
This can even be carried over into adult hood. For example, while it may have felt great at the time to have shared our accomplishments or to pat our own backs for something that we had done, to those around us it may not be so. Those gathered around you may consider it boastful (as Paul would say) or may even become jealous.
Now, I am not saying that it is not a good thing to be recognized for our achievements, because it is. Everyone, at one time or another, likes to receive words of gratitude for what they have done. That is a wonderful feeling. As Christians, we should encourage each other and build each other up as often as we can.
But, according to the Gospel, Jesus was saying that it is better for others to recognize your talents and gifts. It is better to let our gifts and our accomplishments to be seen by others and let them lift us up in recognition.
Even greater than all the praise and accolades we can receive from others for our earthly accomplishments, is the exaltation we will receive when we are lifted up before the Lord our God.
It will be God that will reward us, beyond our wildest dreams for our faith in Him. In Hebrews the author wrote the following words in verses 15-16 of chapter 13.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.