When reflecting on my brother-in-law’s wedding to my sister-in-law, I remembered when I was seated in the second row with the groom’s family. I turned around and saw my husband’s Uncle and Aunt seated several rows behind me. I waved them forward to come sit by me since they were also part of the groom’s family. They moved forward.
When I asked why they sat far back they responded, “Always sit towards the back and wait until you are invited to a more reverent position.”
That sentiment has stuck with me for the last 2 years.
It also reminded me of when I was a Junior in High School and our Youth Group leader set up a dinner event for us at the church. We could sit wherever we wanted at the table. But it ended up being a lesson in choosing to sit at the head table verse sitting in “lesser” position. Those of us that had sat at the head table were then asked to become the servers at the dinner party.
Both examples are reminiscent of the “Parable of the Great Banquet” or “Parable of Guests” from Luke 14:7-10.
“And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place.But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you.”
Luke 14:7-10 (NASB)
Pride dictates to us that we are worthy of sitting at the front table. It’s pride that allows us to think we should sit in a place of honor.
But it’s someone else’s authority that allows us to stay there.
At a wedding, it’s the protocol of Emily Post. At a dinner party, it’s the host or hostess’ decision.
As a Christian, Jesus outlines that we are to wait until we are invited to move to that position of honor. Jesus didn’t tell us this as a mean way of “keeping us in check.” Rather, He was teaching us how we can learn to control pride…before it controls us. He was teaching us how to be humble…so that we can be an example to others.
Through a deliberate lesson geared towards teenagers, my youth group leaders taught me the lesson early. Years later, by demonstrating this behavior, my husband’s Aunt and Uncle illustrated a real-life lesson in that humility.
This week, I pray that we are each humble in our decisions about where we choose to sit at the table.