Jesus uses competing for status to teach us about true success
It is a competitive world out there! I need to focus and to stop at nothing to make my mark. I will apply myself to get the job I want, the life I desire and the status I deserve, while engaging in the leisure and entertainment I crave. Wow! While this description can be of someone who is truly success-motivated and has specific goals, it can also be a warning for us. As Christians, we should applaud motivation. But at the same time, we are alert to fend off the destructive poisons of pride and ego. How do we do both and still have a chance at succeeding in this world? Is it our Christian destiny to be continuously overlooked for that promotion, that opportunity or that position? As usual, applying the Christian principle of humility in this world is bewildering and can be discouraging as well. However, once we get our arms around how Jesus handled this, the whole confusing matter becomes clear!
Where did the sick guy come from? Hmmm.....
We know Jesus was a humble man. We also know he was bold. How do those two characteristics work together? The context of Jesus’ parable about the guests at a wedding was a good example. Jesus was invited to the home of a very influential Pharisee for a Sabbath dinner. While this was an elegant occasion, Luke tells us the Pharisees in attendance “watched Jesus closely.” This meant they were planning on testing him. Jesus handled this test by healing a sick man who “just happened to be there” on the Sabbath while simultaneously silencing his Pharisee observers. Jesus showed them humility by doing what God wanted him to. He showed them boldness by confronting their challenge.
These actions were the beginning of larger lessons on success through humility. As Jesus observed the Pharisees jockeying for the seats of highest honor at this meal, he unfolded the parable. His lesson was simple. Stop presenting yourselves to your peers with a self-proclaimed splendor and instead take a seat of humility. Allow your value to be recognized by others on its own merit. In the end, it will be God who exalts those who are humble - and that is the most important thing.
What can this simple parable of Jesus teach us today about success and humility? If we are willing to look, there are many profoundly practical lessons we can learn. First and foremost is the simple lesson of self-awareness. Know and focus on who we are, and not on what we would like others to think we are. While the concept is simple, executing it in a world full of peer pressure and instant communication is another story.
Check out our May 24, 2021 podcast, “Can Humility Keep Me From Success?” for more. We build on the practicality of knowing who we are and examine current day examples of how to apply it. We explore several other aspects of biblical humility from Jesus’ parable and find surprising practicality for today. Join us to see how success and humility can lead us to living a fulfilled Christian life.
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