Teachings on Humility
Open Your Bible
Luke 14:1-35, Proverbs 25:6-7, Romans 12:16
BY Guest Writer
I am uncomfortable writing about pride and humility, precisely because I have too much of one and not nearly enough of the other. I dare say I’m not alone, either. I did a little bit of cultural research when I started writing this, because I wanted to see how other people talk about humility.
First, I found a series of business articles in prominent journals about how humility is the secret to good leadership—including an article literally titled, “17 Reasons Humility Will Help You Get Ahead.” Later, I found an article about the power dynamics of choosing your seat in a business meeting, and research about the psychology behind your choice.
What Jesus says in Luke 14:7–14 is exactly the opposite: “But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place” (v.10). When He tells this parable, Jesus isn’t teaching a large crowd. He is eating a Sabbath meal in the house of Pharisees, the group that would be largely responsible for later placing Him on trial.
In this chapter, Jesus confronts the Pharisees three times. First, He heals a man on the Sabbath, an issue over which the Pharisees had previously confronted Him. Second, having observed the Pharisees carefully choosing their seats at the Sabbath meal, He tells a parable about being humble and always choosing the worst seat. Third, He tells another parable about a wedding feast where none of the invited guests come, so the host extends the invitation to the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind.
Throughout Luke, we see Jesus inaugurating the kingdom of God and proclaiming its values. He challenges the Pharisees, and He challenges our hearts. The parables He tells are for His immediate audience, but they are also for us, showing us the way life should work in His kingdom. And in the kingdom of God, humility isn’t a tactic to get ahead. It’s not a carefully-calculated decision about where to sit in a meeting, or at a party.
In his book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Tim Keller writes:
Gospel-humility is not needing to think about myself. Not needing to connect things with myself. It is an end to thoughts such as, ‘I’m in this room with these people, does that make me look good? Do I want to be here?’ True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. The freedom of self-forgetfulness. The blessed rest that only self-forgetfulness brings.
I’ll pray through those words today, asking for self-forgetfulness and gospel-humility, asking for the Spirit to convict me when I put people and things before Jesus, and praying, inspired by the words of Paul in Romans, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation” (v.16).
Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing and reading in Nashville, where she also joyfully serves as the editor of Kids Read Truth. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables.