Day 19

Teachings on Humility

from the Luke reading plan


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.

Post Comments (47)

47 thoughts on "Teachings on Humility"

  1. Katelyn Kenney says:

    Wow, self-forgetfulness. I’ve never thought about the concept, but I get it. That does seem so peaceful, to not constantly be worried about my image. Luke 14 is always so challenging for me because of the piece about hating your family members… I’ve never fully understood that

  2. Mari V says:

    By reading these devotionals throughout the week and reading some of the funny stories Melanie has written I can tell she’s quite young. I remember reading something about the 1980s and her only been a little girl or maybe she was still a baby. I laughed because I graduated from high school in 1986. And then I thought to myself “WOW” I am learning so much from this young woman. May I never be too proud to learn from the younger. And yes there are times when I feel like I should be way ahead of the game. I should be this very mature woman and then I read today’s devotional. Yes “this half of century” woman can learn from a younger woman. I am blessed. Thank you Melanie. God is using you in a mighty way.

  3. Donna says:

    Good morning Churchmouse, I rarely write something but this morning your writing made me thing I am sitting in that same seat. Interesting that today I am trying to formulate my classification talk (about me) for a Rotary Club meeting and the topic of our reading is humility. I need to pray and ask Jesus how and what to say with humility. Prayersbeing asked! Thank you for all you share.

  4. Debbie Burton says:

    So good!! Self reflecting on our own humble spirit and accountability is vital!!! Jesus needs to always be the center.. not me! THANK YOU FOR YOUR WRITING

  5. NanaK says:

    Such a strong and on-spot devotion today, along with everyone’s comments. Each day, may those around me see more of YOU and less of me Jesus.

  6. Marsha says:

    melanie, i’m grateful for your insight today. i do remember ‘eyes to see’, ‘ears to hear’ and ‘hearts to believe’. to ask. to knock. altho it is a constant struggle, i want to believe i’m moving closer to Jesus each year He is gracious and willing to leave me earthside.

  7. michelle says:

    This devo was spot on with a matter in my heart that God needed to mend within me. While being in a tight knit Bible study, I was trying to coordinate a breakfast/ get together of some sort. It took a few comments from others to just put me on the brink of tears. I realized that through this reading and through all the comments, that I need to practice self-forgetfulness.
    Sisters, please pray that the planning for this simple yet lovely breakfast this weekend honors our heavenly father.
    That I am not to be seen through this, yet others get a time to connect and share their faith in a safe and open space.

    1. Mari V says:

      Prayed for you just now Michelle .

  8. Janet C says:

    Such a powerful lesson today. It seems that we all struggle with this issue of humility and I suppose that is because as we draw closer to Christ our sinfulness becomes more and more apparent. I too struggle so much with this. Why do I do what I do! May I suggest Sharon Hodde Millers book-Free of Me. It totally wrecked me. I recently went through the book with several ladies and it is so convicting yet freeing. Sharon has written for SRT several times and I think she has hit the nail on the head with this book. I will continued use to refer to it over and over. I also suggest Timothy Keller’s book The freedom of self forgetfulness which is quarters in this devotion. It’s a very short quick read.

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