The Best Seat in the House?

Once Jesus was invited to a banquet at the home of a religious leader. He reclined at the table, and watched as the other guests came in. The best seats filled up first, the places of honor.
So Jesus said this:
“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 person 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 the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 14:8-11).
Serving others takes a certain amount of humility. A certain level of sacrifice. Those who serve with humility don't expect to get paid back on earth. They look forward to their reward in heaven. Listen to the very next words Jesus speaks:
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your 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” (Luke 14:12-14).
Don't get me (or Jesus) wrong... there are rewards now for serving a meal for the homeless or packing a Christmas basket for a poor family. Even secular sociologists recognize that serving others gives us the warm fuzzies inside. It may even earn us some earthly applause, too. But Jesus says that if you work for those rewards, those are all the rewards you'll get (Matt 6:1-4). Instead, let's clean the kitchen at Grace House or coach basketball teams at YFC because we believe in the resurrection of the righteous--because we believe in a God who rewards (Heb. 11:6).

Community group leaders know that it can be difficult to get group members to serve, for any reason. We rejoice if we get a majority of our group to show up for something as easy as stuffing envelopes at CompassCare. But perhaps this season, as the joy (and stress) of Christmas begins to fill our cultural air, we can communicate to our groups about serving a little bit differently than ususal. Let's find an opportunity, set a date, make a plan--and when we communicate the details to our groups, let's do it with a focus on the God who rewards.

Hebrews 11 is about men and women of faith, people who were "longing for a better country" (v.16), who were looking ahead to their reward (v.26). And Jesus is the ultimate example, who "for the joy set before him he endured the cross" (12:2).

Northridge, "let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds" (10:24). Instead of making a beeline for the best seats in the house, let's humble ourselves, and serve as people who are certain of eternal joy.