Aug 28, 2016   " Humbleness and Humility "
Today's  message is based on Luke 14: 1, 7-14

So its good today that (as usual) nobody sits in the front row at church.
That’s really the case in just about all churches you might go to.
But today I want to use these first row chairs to make a point.
So let’s take four chairs and put them up front for you to see.

As you can see, these chairs I’ve set up can accommodate several people.
If we doubled up or scrunched, we could maybe handle a few more.
But there is only so much space here for people that these chairs can hold.
So now I’m gonna place myself in this seating area - tell me what you think.

When I lie down here taking up all all the space there’s really no room for anyone else.
But these are my chairs and so I can use as much room as I want.
I’m happy like this and I’ll maybe let someone in who can give me a massage or a drink.
Or maybe an important person who could do me a favor someday if I need it.

Let’s assume for a moment, that these chairs represent my heart and mind.
Let’s pretend that these chairs are the people I can hold within ‘being’ or my ‘soul’.
I think that most of us have a limited amount of space in our selves for others.
A finite area in which others can take up important residence in our hearts and souls.

We can hold people we know and love in there, and then that takes up some space.
But there is also always room for others to be in the thoughts and concern of our minds.
But, again, there is not an infinite amount of chairs here…or room within us for others.
That is, other people to love and care about and to care for.

So if we take up lots of space ourselves, that inevitably results in less room for others.
Less space to be concerned for others if we fill up our hearts and minds with ourselves.
And that’s why Jesus makes his point in the Gospel we read today about humility.

Jesus actually echoes what Proverb 25: 6-7 says about hubris and humility.
The advice is if you try to elevate yourself, you could end up being humbled.
So he says if you take a seat of honor trying to puff yourself up,…
someone of greater status and prestige may come and take your place.
That, of course, would be very embarrassing and nobody wants to be embarrassed.

But Jesus seems to advocate humility and humbleness for more than that reason.
He then says not to invite the high class to your dinner,….but the poor.
Because seeking to host only the prestigious people, we are again being self-absorbed.
He says that is looking to invite others into your space just to serve yourself.

Jesus is again reminding us of what God calls upon us to do.
God wants us to love him,….following Jesus as part of that,…and to be for others.

Martin Luther once described the essence and definition of sinfulness as this -
Being turned in towards one’s self - that is, self absorbed, self-centered, self-promoting.
When we’re all about ourselves, that narcissism gets in the middle of our space.
It takes up the space of our hearts and minds and souls of what defines who we are.
And when we fill up that space,…. it tends to leave less room for others.
Not just less room for others we know, but especially less room for any others.

So when sports figures get so fixated on themselves that they lack humility,…
you know that the rest of their teammates are left out of their view of the game.
When political leaders aspiring to office are self-absorbed and narcissistic,….
then you know that those who could help them govern are pushed aside.
When a business person is so focused on elevating themselves at all costs,….
then you know that their workers and suppliers and customers get short changed.

The examples are endless but you can fill in any role and its the same result.
When we don’t exercise humbleness in our lives, of either work or play, everyone pays.
Friends, colleagues and co-workers, family members,…and God himself suffers.
The less humility shown,…the less chance the love of God and neighbor is shown.
The less humbleness there is, the less chance there is God’s will can be accomplished.

If the humble Jesus is our model,…that doesn’t mean we go around lacking confidence.
We don’t have to hide our accomplishments or the talents we possess.
But we also don’t puff ourselves up about them to gain all attention that we can.
Humbleness and humility mean to let our talents and abilities draw attention to God.

Jesus himself lived that way and what he did always pointed to the love of the Father.
It enabled him to have room in his heart for love and concern for everyone.
Room for us to be in his heart always and forever!

Amen