In the gospels, Jesus was invited by a certain chief Pharisee to his house. Other Pharisees had been invited as well, men who were leading keepers of the law. When the host called his guests to be seated, there was a sudden scramble for the chief seats at the head table. Scripture tells us that Jesus “noted how they chose the best places” (Luke 14:7, NKJV). It was a brazen display of pride, a need to be seen and recognized.

When Christ himself sat down to eat, he gave that roomful of Israel’s top religious leaders this word of rebuke. “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:8-11).

As he considered his audience at that Pharisee’s house, he was describing a particular type of leader: those who “love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts…for a pretense make long prayers” (Luke 20:46-47). In short, Jesus tells us, there are men and women who do good works only to be seen by others. These people love the spotlight and are constantly blowing a trumpet for themselves.

This applies to ministers, but it is also a word for every child of God. We must take this particular word from the Lord very seriously.

Why exactly did Jesus put so much importance on “Take the lowest seat in the house”? If we obey this command, Christ can then invite us to “come up higher” into a place of righteous honor and enter into the fullness of God’s touch. It opens our hearts to the call to have a richer intimacy with Christ. Only then will we become a more convincing, sure and righteous oracle of the Lord.