“When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 14: 8-11).
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12: 32).
Sometimes, the words of Christ Jesus have lessons for us, but these lessons can be misinterpreted. For example, I used to decipher the first quotation above (about the wedding seats) in an erroneous way. While the Master was showing us the results of assuming self-importance over others (causing ourselves public shame from such behavior) I was seeing it as a directive to always devalue myself. As a result, and in fear that I wasn’t worthy of some good thing or provision, I often denied myself some good that needed not to be denied.
On one such occasion, when I was struggling to believe that I and my family deserved a home that more completely filled our needs, I had a “teaching” dream that clarified the situation. Now, mostly my dreams are of the muddled variety; but occasionally, one unfolds with logical steps and reasoning. This is what, to me, is a ‘teaching’ dream.
This was the essence of the dream: I was walking into some kind of theatre, when an usher walked up to me and asked me where I wanted to sit. I asked what my choices were. He said that I could go to the expensive seat section; the mid-range expense section, or the cheap section. Without hesitation, I chose the mid-range section. As soon as I did so, I awoke from the dream with a voice in my mind saying (as I remember), “You have just chosen your own value. Because you believe, rightly, that as a human being you are no better and no worse than anyone else, you erroneously stay in the middle on just about everything else.”
This voice within (thoughts) continued, “In choosing to stay in the middle range, even when it comes to your needs being met (expecting nothing too good or too perfect from God, but only mediocre) you are confusing the difference between belief of one’s value and the belief in self-importance over others. God’s loving provision has nothing to do with the mental state of self-importance over others.
“As God’s own spiritual child (the thoughts went on) you are of much more value than you accept for yourself. In the Kingdom of God and Spirit’s infinite provision for all, every child of God is of great value. There are no mid-level and lower level places for God’s own children. All are entitled to the expensive, best-seats-in-the-house section. Only when one thinks he is better than others does the parable of the wedding seats apply.”
As I said, I don’t remember the dream, word for word; but this message is what basically unfolded to me. From that dream, the distinction between self-importance and value was clearer to me: I realized that the infinite creativity of God, the divine Intelligence of the spiritual universe, is capable of giving all good to each and every one of Its children, who are all of great value to Its universe. There are no limits to be placed upon God and the infinite creativity of Spirit; thus, we need not (in our own thinking) limit the divine resources, ever-present to provide whatever we humanly need. In other words, we are not exalting ourselves erroneously when we expect God to supply all our needs. All good things are present and possible to the divine Intelligence of God, who wants Its divine children to return to God’s everlasting love for them.
Pondering the dream’s illustration, in which I was determining my own, limited sense of what I thought was my ‘place’ and entitlement, I also began to realize another fact: the value we mentally place upon ourselves is very much related to the human identity we place upon ourselves. If we think of ourself as a miserable sinner, unworthy of God’s love and favor, we don’t expect much out of life, and even less from God. If we have a more spiritual view of our identity, we realize that there is something better and holier within us than what is shown by some of the things we do in this material experience. In short: in our spiritual identity, we have a value and worth to God and all creation, which we, humanly, just don’t recognize.
Looking back over my lifetime, I can recall several times where someone proved to others that God’s loving provision was ever-present. One incident that particularly stays with me occurred about thirty years ago. My aunt received a visit from her own aunt, Lily, who was eighty-five years old. (I think this would be my great aunt.) Anyway, I hadn’t met Aunt Lily before, but when I met and talked with her, I found out that she was an avid Bible reader. Her faith in God was a driving force in her life.
Now, Aunt Lily didn’t have much money; but she said that God had always taken care of her. She’d come to our city to find an assisted living home for herself, which wasn’t a nursing home. This was hard to find back then; yet, she’d found a rather exclusive ‘home’ for the aged that she liked. Unfortunately, she was told that she just wasn’t affluent enough to get in.
As I recall, she would need $1,500 down, plus any monthy income she possessed and a deed to any home she owned (which she didn’t have anymore). It looked like an impossible dream. (This was in the days that $1,500 was a great deal of money, and her income was low or non-existent, except for a meager social security check.) So, she was told she couldn’t afford the place.
I remember feeling really bad for her. Yet, when I spoke with her about the situation, she was cheerful as could be. She told me not to worry a bit for her. Then she quoted this Bible verse to me: “I have been young and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” (Psalm 37: 25). She then went on and told me that God was always taking care of her, and she’d have all she needed. She considered herself a daughter of God. Her home would become apparent.
She was right; within days someone from the expensive elderly home she wanted gave her a call, saying that they had decided to waive all entry expenses for her and would take whatever small amount of social security she had as full payment. (This was a place where she needed no spending money, since everything was paid, and purchases such as clothing and personal items were donated by various associations and funds.)
Aunt Lily lived there, in complete comfort and good health, about seven years. She passed away quietly at ninety-two.
This is one of many such experiences I’ve encountered from people who have trusted in God as their Source, not just of health but of abundance. Aunt Lily never felt she needed money; she always felt she needed God.
To really accept this view of one’s spiritual Sonship or Daughtership to God is to realize one’s unique image and likeness of God. God is Spirit, and as children of Spirit, we must be spiritual, not physical in essence and true substance. We must find ourselves worthy of God’s love and eternal care, in our true, Christly identity.
Personality wise, this certainly requires the more spiritual view of oneself—for the material personality (we seem to be) is full of faults. We all really do play the part of a miserable sinner, a good deal of the time. We resort to survival skills, rather than spiritual trust, when protecting ourselves from what seems, at times, a hostile environment. Evil sometimes seems justified, in order to protect ourselves. But this material view takes no cognizance of the invisible presence of Spirit, right where discordant physical situations claim to have authority over us. Returning to the correct identification of ourselves reminds us of God’s presence, power, and love for us; there is no need for wrong behavior.
So, the parable at the beginning of this article, about humbling ourselves, was speaking to the point of honoring others, as ourselves. It isn’t addressing one’s value to God, nor God’s provision to each and every one of Its off-spring. The parable on humility was addressing the false sense of self-importance over others that we sometimes assume in this human experience. Yet, despite such behavior, we still have our real value to God, and we each have our own infinitely good provision from God, our Source—with no need for any more importance than that.