The print that hangs in a corner of our dining room reads: “When you have more than you need, build a bigger table, not a higher fence.” My family tries to live by this wisdom, and it provides me a much-needed daily reminder of God’s provision, God’s nature to care for and feed God’s people.
In Luke 14, Jesus attends a meal at the home of a Pharisee. After observing how the guests choose their seats, Jesus tells a parable about a meal. Jesus recommends guests take the lowest seat because they do not know their level of distinction compared to the other guests. Then, when the guest of honor comes, the host will invite the guest in the lowest seat to move up higher rather than having to ask the guest to give up the seat. Jesus recommends this practice as an act of humility that will lead to honor.
Perhaps like the Pharisees who listened to Jesus’ story, we need the reminder to choose humility. We can practice such humility by recognizing that God gives us enough. The Great Feeder provides us with every ounce of sustenance, both metaphorically and physically. Out of this overabundance of grace, we can build a bigger table, invite more people to it, and give away our seat of honor to take the seat of a servant. After all, we are no better than the person to our right or left. In building bigger tables instead of higher fences, we acknowledge that God alone is enough. And maybe, when that happens, we will begin to recognize anew that we have enough to share abundantly and that all are worthy in the eyes of God.
God, sometimes praying for humility is the hardest prayer of all. Show me what it means to believe that you are enough, so I might act generously out of your provision for me. Amen.
Jeremiah (the “weeping prophet”) is not very popular in his time. In this passage he relates a message from God that the people have forsaken God (living water) and put their trust in things that can never satisfy (leaky cisterns). The psalmist expresses similar frustration from God. Israel will not listen to God’s voice or receive God’s provision, so God allows them to experience the unfortunate consequences of their choices. The author of Hebrews provides practical advice for living the Christian life: showing hospitality, caring for those in prison, honoring marriage, and avoiding materialism. This ethical living is an offering to God. Jesus reinforces this in his parable of the banquet. We should be generous to those who need it most, not just to those who can provide us some benefit in return.
Read Jeremiah 2:4-13. When have you missed the fountain of living water springing up before you?
Read Psalm 81:1, 10-16. How is God seeking to provide for you? Are you willing to accept God’s satisfying provision?
Read Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16. How do you or your faith community share hospitality? Do you distinguish between friends and strangers?
Read Luke 14:1, 7-14. Whom do you invite to your home and to your church? Do you invite those who cannot repay you or only those who can?
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