True story: I attended a meeting held in a conference room. The chairs arranged in the usual circle looked typically uncomfortable except for one large, ornate, padded chair which no one had yet claimed. I had walked far to be there and was tired, but the idea of taking that particular chair seemed selfish. So I passed on it, choosing a tin folded chair instead. More people arrived. They eyed the beautiful chair wistfully. Each chose another place to sit. Finally a pert little woman walk in and without hesitation made a beeline for the best chair in the room. As she plopped into it, there was a creaking sound, and the bottom fell out and she went through it! As we helped the poor woman up – bruised only in the ego – we all laughed at having coveted that precarious chair. We need it the Chair of Humiliation. It looked appealing, but led to embarrassment. Sometimes the comforts we seek and the honours we claim have a way of backfiring. Humility beats humiliation by a mile!
Who is your best teacher of true humility?
Practice humility. Surrender the larger portion. Let someone get ahead of you. Allow the quiet person to speak. Seek wise teachers. Listen to their words, watch their actions, imitate their example.
The Scripture (Luke 14: 10-11) Humility and Hospitality
Jesus continued, “When you’re invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may well say, ‘Friend, come up to the front’. That will give the dinner guests something to talk about! What I’m saying is, if you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself”.
With six of us crowded around the dinner table most nights, the idea of a ‘place of honour’ was foreign to my children until one of them encountered it in a book. As the eldest, he thought he should be seated at the ‘head’ of the table, a place we usually reserved for the high chair or the youngest, messiest eater. My son had the misfortune of insisting on this one night, and I promptly made him switch seats with his baby sister. He sat down in a puddle of gravy. From that evening, I was once again allowed to determine the seating arrangements.
Whether in our families, our social circles, or the daily workplace, it is easy to be persuaded that status matters. Jesus reminds us that insisting on our own importance rarely yields the results we want. Even if our only motivation is to avoid embarrassment, humility is always the safer course of action.
You call us to account, O God, for pride and self-interest are ours.
We will reflect on the needs of the powerless and disadvantaged rather than our own. We will reflect on how we can serve, rather than how much we can get.
We will hear another out, before we offer an opinion.
We will judge slowly, and forgive generously.
Humility led Jesus all the way to the cross. It is not an easy way for you.
It is the way of peace for us.
Thanks be to God!
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