Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Humility, Christian Life
Volume 6 No. 358 July 15, 2016
II. Lectionary Reflections:Humility

He Who Humbles Himself Will Be Exalted

(A biblical reflection on Luke 14:1,7-14)

Gospel: Luke 14:1.7-14

Scripture Text

One Sabbath when He went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged the Pharisees, they were watching Him.

Now He told a parable to those who were invited, when He marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, "When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host come he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
(Luke 14:1.7-14 RSV)

"Every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
(Luke 14:11).

If there us one attitude consistently scorned by the world, it must be humility, and that is mostly because the world does not understand what humility is really about. Before anything else, humility involves a trusting reliance of God, just as its opposite, pride, is essentially a withdrawal from God (Sirach 10:12). Humility believes that God is good and so finds the strength to persevere through strong temptations and fiery trials. Prideful withdrawal from God, on the other hand, leads to self-centeredness and does not have the strength to endure difficulties – or understand the meaning in suffering.

The heart of humility is the knowledge that we are recipients of God’s lavish, undeserved mercy. When we know the generous, forgiving love of Jesus, we are humbled and a divine sort of generosity begins to develop in us. In the light of our experience of God’s love, we realize that we are beggars ourselves and that we are no different from any person whom the world might disregard. We realize that everyone on the earth is our sister and brother and that we are called to stand with those who are in "the lowest place" (Luke 14:10) and to share with them the love that we have received.

Jesus is the perfect example of humility. He was humble enough to call Himself our brother, to identify with us in our sin and weakness, and even to become one like us in order to save us. In the same way, Jesus asks us to be humble enough to look upon every needy person around us as our sister and brother and to pour ourselves out in service to them. Just as Jesus always looks after our interests, He calls us to look out for the interests of our neighbor (Philippians 2:4).

At the Holy Mass today, let us ask the Lord Jesus to show us the price He paid to release us from sin and to lift us up – exalt us – to the throne of His Father. Let His love move us to share that love with the people around us. May we all commit ourselves to lifting up our sisters and brothers so that together we can give glory to Jesus, our humble Redeemer!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach me to trust in Your provision today, and help me to love and care for everyone You put in my path today. We pray this in the most precious name of Your dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Source: A Christian Pilgrim

Jesus Teaches About Humility and Servanthood
Gospel: Luke 14:1-14

Just the fact that the only fault the Pharisees could find with Jesus was that He healed on the Sabbath tells us that He must have been a very good person. (We know that he was sinless). Jesus wasn't content to let them think that He was guilty of even one little sin, so He explained that the fault they'd found in Him wasn't a fault at all. Rather, they were criticizing Him for a virtue. He was helping someone who needed help on the Sabbath, just as they would do for their sons or animals if they were in need on the Sabbath. So Jesus proved that their only criticism of Him was unjustified. He was sinless.

As we've previously seen, the religion of the Pharisees was mostly just a show. They worked hard at looking good on the outside, but their inward motivation was all wrong. They were seeking the praise of men rather than the praise of God, something that usually characterizes religious people who are not born again. Jesus saw through them, and noted that their desire to be honored before others was evident even in how they seated themselves to eat a meal together. Each one tried to sit near the head of the table where the most "important" people sat, and Jesus seized the opportunity to teach a lesson about humility. When we exalt ourselves, we run the risk of being humbled, just like the man who takes a seat of honor at a wedding feast. It's much better and more pleasing to God if we will humble ourselves. If we will, we're more likely to be exalted.

Humble people are always thinking, not of themselves, but of others. For that reason, they have a servant's attitude, looking for opportunities to be a blessing. However, just because someone serves others isn't sure proof that he's a true servant. Many people outwardly seem to be kind and generous, but often they are just acting in order to gain people's favor. They are hoping to personally benefit in the long run. For example, people sometimes give gifts in order to make others feel indebted to them. That is one reason Jesus told us to give secretly. Secret gifts are motivated by pure love.

That is also why Jesus told the host of the dinner not to invite his friends, brothers, relatives and rich neighbors when he gave a dinner. They could and would repay him for his kindness. A higher, more godly love would be demonstrated by giving a dinner for those who could not repay him. Jesus told him that if he would give a dinner for people who could not repay him, such as the poor, crippled, lame and blind, God would reward him at the resurrection of the godly.

This doesn't mean that it's wrong for us to show love to our friends, brothers, relatives and neighbors. But our love for them could be just selfishness disguised as love if we have hidden motives. God is calling us to a higher love, one that is pure like His. He wants us to show love to those whom most people neglect, ignore, and even hate.

Q. What do you think God would say to a person who wants to look good in the eyes of others when he humbles himself with the hope of being exalted?

A. God would say that person is guilty of false humility. True humility has no plans for being exalted by other people. It only desires the praise of God.

Q. How do you think God feels about social cliques, small groups of exclusive people who look down upon or don't associate with those who don't meet their standards for acceptance?

A. He's against them, because they are held together by selfishness and convey hatred toward people He loves.


Is there anyone you know that most people ignore, a person who receives very little love from others? It may even be someone in your school or church who is a little different from everyone else. In light of what Jesus said, what do you think He wants you to do? Will you?

Source: Family Style Devotions

When My Pride Is Humbled

by Father Gary

Gospel: Luke 14:1-14

Almost everyone has been to some kind of banquet or award dinner in which there is a head table. Usually it is reserved for those who are being honored in some way or who are part of the program for the evening. Even in monastic communities, there is often an "abbot's table;" a monk or a guest would not normally sit there unless invited to! As the pastor of a big parish, I go to quite a few dinners, and usually I end up sitting at the head of the table (something I don't enjoy very much), often because I'm giving the invocation. Anyway, when priests are honored in this way (such as at Mass), it is almost always Christ that we are intending to honor!

In this Sunday's gospel (Luke 14:1-14) Jesus is attending a dinner party, and is watching human nature being played out. Apparently there were more people trying to sit in the most prominent seats then there were seats for them. Also it would seem that Jesus was not one of those to be honored at the head table!

Most of us have also had the experience of working with someone, having a classmate, or a friend who is good at "self-promoting." One type of self-booster-ism that I particularly do not appreciate is when people keep dropping hints about all the places that they visited: these days almost no one is impressed by travel since so many have done it. Other irritating ways that this is done is when people assume the square footage of our home will impress, or the successes our children are having, or making remarks about other possessions which implies wealth. Most of us are not impressed with this behavior, and neither is God.

The real question, though, is what does impress God? The answer is humility: acting like Christ did. If there was one person in that biblical dinner party who deserved to be at the head table, it was Jesus, but he did not seek that. No one likes to be passed over for honors or recognition or a promotion, but if this happens, my reaction to this will tell me a great deal about how much humility I really have, or rather how much pride I am holding onto.

What are some of the other ways that this principle is worked out in our lives? Perhaps I've done something nice for someone and have been criticized for it and not thanked; I've given a gift to someone that was not appreciated; I voice an opinion and it is ridiculed; I reach out to someone with a phone call or an email or letter and I'm ignored; I get caught in a traffic jam and get inordinately upset; I have lost my luggage and am obnoxious to the agent!

What all of these types of situations have in common is that my ego, my plans, my self-importance has been knocked down a peg. By these and many other situations we come to realize how much pride we are carrying around, resulting in a self-centered worldview. So many times life deals us opportunities disguised as problems, and sometimes the best blessings that we receive are when we are humbled and don't deserve it, because this makes us more like Christ and puts our worldview in its proper perspective.

Humility and Exaltation

by Dr. Richard C. Leonard

Gospel: Luke 14:1-14 NIV

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?" But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.

Then he asked them, "If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?" And they had nothing to say.

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Let me begin by relating an experience I had many years ago. My wife was a new teacher in a high school, and being at the bottom of the faculty totem pole she was tapped to be a chaperone for one of the school dances. Naturally, I went along as her "date." We arrived as things were still being set up, and we noticed that at one end of the gym there were several sofas and stuffed armchairs in a little circle. How kind of the school, we thought, to provide a special place for the chaperones. So we went over and sat down to observe the rest of the preparations.

Just as the dance was about to start, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and turned to face several students, all nicely dressed in tuxedos and gowns and such. "Excuse me," said the first young man, "these seats are reserved."

"But we're the chaperones," I explained.

"I'm sorry," replied the young man. "These are for the patrons."

I looked behind the students, and found they were leading a procession of a dozen or so adults, elegantly attired and looking like the "cream of the crop" of that community. It became quickly obvious that we peon faculty chaperones had trespassed into territory reserved only for the really important people - the local muckety-mucks who were the class's honored guests or who, perhaps, had shelled out cash to sponsor the dance.

The incident made me pretty angry. It was humiliating to be told we had to step down from that exalted spot where we had placed ourselves. If I had been a Christian then, I might have had a better perspective. I might have taken the whole matter less seriously. I might even have remembered that Jesus warned us about exactly this sort of thing, in our Gospel reading for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost. For, here in Luke 14, he tells us, "when you are invited, take the lowest place. . . . For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled."

Now, of course, my wife and I had no intention of exalting ourselves by sitting in seats reserved for others. It was an honest mistake; nobody had clued us in that only the patrons were supposed to sit there. It was only my resentment at being displaced that makes Jesus' words really applicable to the situation. The real problem was in me, not the circumstances, and I'm afraid my exit from the scene was not as gracious as it could have been.

That was "a long time ago, in a galaxy far away," but my defensive attitude of resentment at slights, real or imagined, continued to plague me till after I became a Christian and the Lord gave me the resources to begin dealing with it. And I still deal with it to some extent. I guess we all do.

This is really a question of our self-image, or how we look at ourselves. Paul, in Romans 12:3, wrote, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." He was talking about how we each understand our spiritual gifts in the life of the body of Christ, but I think we can take his words in a more general sense. As Christians we learn to look at ourselves realistically , "with sober judgment," as Paul says , and this might keep us from having those feelings I had at that high school dance.

It's not that we demean ourselves, or put ourselves down. Instead, we simply understand that we're not the big deal we thought we were. The world doesn't revolve around us, after all. As Christians we're called to a high purpose in life: to glorify God and enjoy his presence and serve him. And when God's glory is our central concern, the little slights that come our way don't have the same power to humiliate. Our high purpose doesn't make us any higher than anyone else, for it's only Jesus that we are to lift up, that others might be drawn to him.

But let me back up now and take another look at our reading from the Gospel of Luke: "When [Jesus] noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 'When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.'"

There's really a lot here, and we'll get to it, but first let's ask: Why would anyone thrust himself into a "place of honor" that might not rightfully be his? What's going on in this grab for attention, or power, or exaltation over other people? We see it all around us, in politics, in sports and entertainment, in our workplace, in the home, and even - Lord help us - in the church. There are always those who seem to covet the highest place, in order to enjoy the recognition and esteem of other people. If we're honest we'll have to admit that it's not always somebody else who does this. It might be you or I. Well, I don't know about "you," but I sure know about "I."

What's going on here? As I said before, it's a question of what we really think of ourselves. But it works in a perverse sort of way. If we are really happy with ourselves, I doubt that we're going to make a mad dash for the place of honor. We don't need that external stamp of approval we think will be conferred by being seated in the patron's corner. We'll be content to take a lower place, even the lowest, knowing that our place in Jesus Christ is the only place that matters. We don't have to promote ourselves, because real promotion comes only from the Lord. Self-promotion always backfires.

So when we see another person climbing over us to "get to the top," or making themselves into a "big shot," or scrambling for the place of honor and attention in our group, our family, our office or some other environment, then we need to take a look at ourselves and we'll understand what's happening. That person we think has such a high opinion of himself is really filled with self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness. Those motives may be well covered up, and hidden even from that person. Few people do have a really good understanding of themselves, after all. But the underlying cause of their behavior, reaching for the top of the heap, is that they're unsure of their own worth and are looking for something that will reinforce that good feeling they would like to have about themselves. When you see someone acting like a real jerk, it's not because he thinks he's better than you. It's because he really doesn't like himself.

Understanding this could make us a lot more tolerant of people, even people who try to walk all over us. When you're tempted to "cut them down to size," remember that they're hurting. The hurt that causes their behavior may be greater than your hurt as a result of their behavior.

That's true in many situations of life. I once conducted a funeral for the wife of the man who owned the town's local hardware store. A few days later I walked into the store and the owner launched into a tirade against me for something I had said about his wife during the service - actually, it was because I had mentioned that she had prayed before her death to commit her life to Christ. Her husband took this as a reflection on her character, that I thought she hadn't been "a good woman" till that time. I didn't know what to make of this, but then it came to me how much this man was hurting. He'd seen his wife through a long, wasting illness, and he was tired and depleted and lonely. I know he was lonely, because a few months later he married a widow in the community, the mother of another of my church members. I wish I had summoned the courage to go back to him and try to help him find the peace of Christ. But maybe I would have been the wrong person to try that. And anyway, I didn't want to risk another attack. I was hurting, too.

Letting our hurts control us is a formula for failure. If we look for the "place of honor," for recognition and approval from other people, to bolster our self-doubt and lack of worth and cover our hurts, we're riding for a fall. Jesus warned us not to try it, but instead to "take the lowest place" at the banquet. Then, he said, "when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

I said there was a lot here, and we would get to it, and this is as good a place as any to get to it. You see, this principle of humbling ourselves, that God might exalt us, isn't just a general principle of life. No, it's a principle of life in the kingdom of God - that "heavenly city" we were thinking of last week. Jesus' teaching is always about the kingdom of God, the inbreaking of God's sovereignty over the affairs of men.

Have you noticed how often in the Gospels Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a meal, in fact, a banquet? Think of Luke 13:29-30, for example: "People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last." It's no accident that Jesus used a meal, the last supper with his disciples, to symbolize the renewing of God's covenant with his people. Giving the cup, he said, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."

Next Sunday we'll sit again at the Lord's table, and eat and drink with him in the feast of the kingdom of God. Our life in Christ is a banquet, and our host is the Lord of hosts, and if we come in humility to take the lowest place, the place of service, he will come and say to us, "Friend, come up higher."

We take the "lowest place" at the banquet, the place of service and not the place of honor, because we already know our place. Our place is secure in Jesus, "our only Mediator and Advocate." We don't have anything to prove about ourselves, because he pleads for us. We are to have the mind of Christ, says Paul:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death -
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11).

Indeed, when we "take the lowest place" we're only doing what Jesus did: not claiming to be equal to God and striving for glory and honor, but depending on God to bring us to that place of esteem where we understand who we are in Christ - people made in God's own image as responsible, capable and beloved creatures who don't need to prove who they are to themselves or anyone else.

But before we end I want to add a word of caution. I suggested earlier that we don't always have a good understanding of ourselves or our motives. We don't always think of ourselves "with sober judgment," as Paul says. And if we aren't careful we can appear to take to lowest place but really be doing so with an ulterior motive.

We might be trying to manipulate God into exalting us. You know that the person who says, "Well, after all I'm really a nobody around here," is often looking for you to tell them otherwise, to tell them they're really important. We may be tempted to try that with the Lord and it won't work. He doesn't respond well to manipulation. God wants to exalt us not in ourselves but in Jesus, with whom we are already "raised us up with Christ and seated . . . with him in the heavenly realms," (Ephesians 2:6) as Paul says. That's really about all the exaltation anyone could stand! Let's not try to force God's hand to make us look important, by pretending to be unimportant. We're not unimportant; by his blood Jesus has already made us "kings and priests" to God his Father (Revelation 1:5-6). There's no higher honor than being able to minister worship and service to God.

Then, we might "take the lowest place" with another ulterior motive , to avoid responsibility. Nobody asks much of someone who looks like he's at the bottom of the heap. We may be tempted to hide behind the pretense of lowliness and humility in order not to be bothered by demands from our family, our employer, our teacher, our church or some other person or group that might ask us to do something. That false humility will never lead to exaltation in Christ, for the committed Christian is always willing to say, "I can do all things in him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13).

It's never simple, is it, this Christian life of humility and exaltation? So much to think about, so much to be on guard against, lest we go astray at some critical point. "Let a man examine himself," Paul said; our motives are always suspect. No, it's never simple. But neither is it hard, for one reason: The Christian life isn't about us, it's about Christ. Staying close to Jesus is what makes this new life possible, because we live it with him. "Take my yoke upon you," he says, "and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:29-30).


Honor for the Humble

by Dr. John MacArthur

"Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you" (James 4:10).

God graciously bestows every spiritual blessing on the humble.

Those who are scripturally humble will recognize their unworthiness when they come before God. They will be like the prophet Isaiah who, in seeing God, cursed himself:

"Woe is me, for I am ruined [damned]! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isa. 6:5).

Whenever you see who God really is—infinitely holy, sovereign, mighty, majestic, and glorious—all you can see about yourself is your own sin.

Every time Isaiah or any other person in the Old Testament came face to face with the reality of God’s holy presence, he was overwhelmed with fear. A sinner in the presence of a holy God is overpowered by his sense of exposed sinfulness and has every reason to fear. It was the same in the New Testament, such as when the disciples were afraid after Jesus stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee: "And they became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’" (Mark 4:41). If we are humble before the true God, we’ll have the same response.

But God does not leave us bowed down in awe or cowering in fear. James promises us that the Lord will exalt the humble. And if we are humble in spirit and saved by grace, we will be sanctified and ultimately glorified. The apostle Paul summarizes this so well in Ephesians 2:4-7, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God today for His holiness and His sovereign control over all things, especially how He is leading you to spiritual maturity.

For Further Study

Read Isaiah 6.

What is the focal point of God’s nature in this chapter? What could help you to be as willing as Isaiah was to serve God (v. 8)?

Source: Grace to


Malankara World Journal is published by
Copyright © 2011-2019 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.