“When you give a dinner banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
In this section of Luke 14, we find Jesus giving us 3 connected sections of teaching, all about generosity, status, and social dynamics. All 3 are set at a banquet. The first calls us to take the low, insignificant place, for “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” The second brings a warning not to base our generosity on what it’s return on investment will be. Lastly, Jesus tells a parable about the hearts of the people he really seems to care about: those who have nothing and are ready and willing to come be with him, versus those who have much and are too tied up in their possessions and commitments to spend time with him. Where do you find your heart on this spectrum of worldly emptiness versus fullness, of humble gratitude versus proud self-protection?
These parables are really about the heart. They are not about whether or not we’re allowed to invite our friends to a party. Jesus is not so much concerned with our practical social skills as he is with our heart. Have you embraced the freedom that a true encounter with Jesus brings? If you make decisions out of self-protection, you haven’t met Jesus freely. His protection and care for you means that nothing else overshadows his importance. If you serve the King of Glory, why wouldn’t you give without thought of return? If your life is characterized by pervasive self-protection, do you need an extra dose of trust in Jesus this week? What stupid thing are you going to do for Jesus this week?