This morning I am preparing this week’s message from Luke 14:11 where Jesus says, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exulted.”
I think one of the reasons this passage bothers me so much (in a good way) is that it runs so counter-cultural to what so many influential speakers and authors teach. Every day it seems I read articles and see video clips that subtly (or not so subtly) expound on ways we can “sit at the head of the table” and exult ourselves, establish our platform, and build our brand.
While I really like social media (such a blessing!), I can’t help but feel that it also accelerates a self-centred desire within each of us to present ourselves as better than we are. In fact, it opens the door wide open to the option of 24/7 self-exultation!
And there are so many clever ways to do it in a way that actually appears humble!
For instance, “So blessed to be with [Insert Famous Person], they are such an inspiration in my life.” #NameDrop
Here’s another, “Humbled that so many people would come out to hear my presentation today! [Insert image of tightly cropped picture revealing a room full of people] #ImImportant
One more, “Wow, thinking about taking a break from Facebook because there is so much negativity! Glad, MY life is centred on Jesus!” #IAmNotLikeOthers
By the way, on each of these above accounts, I am certain at various points I have been guilty as charged! And I am certainly not suggesting that every promo is wrong. Quite the opposite. I really like seeing what God is doing in another church! I love it when someone is excited about their latest business product! And I am genuinely happy for the family posting pictures of their latest vacation to Japan!
However, I think the principle Jesus wants to convey to us is that we should not rush or seek out ways to exult ourselves. We should instead let people discover our talents and abilities. I think we’ve all met a person or two in our lives who was famous. Yet, when we met them, we were disappointed with who they were in a private setting. We realized their family wanted little to do with them because they were a workaholic. They had very few close friends and they were often harsh and demanding.
Perhaps the reason Jesus calls us not to exult ourselves is because by doing so it is a way we can greater depend on him. Without a firm belief and dependance on the person that Jesus is (the transcendent God of the universe), we will inevitably feel that self-exultation is a necessity to get to where we are wanting to go in life. In the words of one former presidential candidate, "Sometimes you have to toot your own horn because nobody else will."
But when we get an accurate picture of Jesus, I believe we get an accurate picture of exultation. We realize that God can do more for us in a moment than we could do in a decade. And, perhaps the places that we could go through self-exultation would not reap the eternal rewards that would come through God-exultation.
Now more than ever, I want to focus my sights on "being" rather than on "becoming." A quote from author Mark Batterson really rings true in my life when he writes, “I want those who know me the best to respect me the most.”
Here is a thought provoking question I am asking myself in light of Luke 14: If someone were to only know me from social media, would they be disappointed to meet me in person?
Ouch! That one causes me to think. God help me to "sit at the foot of the table."