Seat of Honor
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." - Luke 14:11 HCSB
A town had two preachers. Pastor Smith was the humble pastor of a small but healthy congregation. The other, Pastor Jones, was the proud leader of a congregation better known for its material rather than its spiritual wealth.
Rev. Jones would not condescend to counsel the people on the wrong side of the tracks. He felt his education and personal charisma would be better used reaching society’s upper crust. Rev. Smith had led a hard life and struggled with poverty, but was known for his joy.
Rev. Jones used soft, mellifluous tones in his sermons, but in his personal life he always seemed angry and bitter. Now a person who hates others will eventually end up hating even himself and Rev. Jones finally came to the point where he felt he needed some help. What to do? His pride wouldn’t allow him to go to any of his parishioners and admit his root of bitterness. He hated to admit his weakness to other pastors. He finally settled on Rev. Smith because who would believe him if he told anyone he was counseling the great Rev. Jones? So he went (at night, lest anyone should see) and asked, “Why are you always so happy, while I remain miserable?”
Rev. Smith replied: “Last week you received an invitation to go to a rich man’s daughter’s wedding. But you were angered when you saw that you were sixteenth on the guest list, even though you were supposed to conduct the wedding. You thought, ‘How dare they! I’ll show them how important I am! I’ll show up late. See if they can have their wedding without me!’ So you showed up hours late, but meanwhile, they found someone else to conduct the wedding. The reception had already started, everyone was seated and there was no room at the table for you. By the time anyone noticed you were there and served you (because your pride wouldn’t allow you to simply serve yourself), all you got were leftovers. Then you hoped you could simply pray a prayer of blessing on the couple. But because you were sitting off to the side, everyone forgot to ask you and another got the privilege of blessing them.
I, on the other hand, was shocked to be so invited by a rich and powerful man of the community. Out of gratitude I decided to show up early and help. So I was there when they needed a pastor to fill in. Because I conducted the wedding I got to sit at the head of the table and because I was next to the master of the house, I was offered the opportunity to pray the blessing. You expect everything and whatever you receive is too little. So you went home cursing and angry. Because I expect nothing, I can be happy no matter what happens.”
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