Sunday, September 1, 2013

Proper 17 Know your Place Luke 14:1-14

May the love of the brothers remain. Do not forget the hospitality, for through this it has escaped the notice of some who were surprised by angels. Remember the prisoners, as fellow-prisoners, the mistreated as also these are being in the Body. Honor marriage in everything and the bed undefiled, for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. May your manner be not greedy; sufficient is your return. For He Himself has said, "No, I will not abandon you, and no, I will not leave you behind." So we are confident to say, "The Lord is my Helper, I will not fear! What can man do to me?" Remember the ones who led you, the ones speaking to you the Word of God, as looking carefully at the end of their behavior, mimicking the faith. Jesus Christ yesterday and today the same and into the ages..

In the lessons today, we hear about the humility we should have in this life, that God might exalt us. You wouldn't want to presume to be the King's favorite, only to be humiliated by him later on. So it is with the humble life you walk on this earth as a Christian. You are to *know your place*. Your place is not to exalt yourself as though you know everything, and deserve many honors. You don't. Your place is to be last, so God can make you first. Your place is to be low so God Himself can raise you up.

So, just what is your place in this lowly, humble life? First, the writer to the Hebrews address how your life of humility looks to your fellow man. You are to be a Philadelphian. Live your life in brotherly love toward others. You are to open your homes to strangers, care about prisoners and those who are downtrodden. For God has placed you here on earth with your neighbors so you can care for them. Yet you find excuse after excuse why your own cares and concerns are more important than theirs.

Has your God treated you the same way? Not by a long-shot! Your God came down from His comfortable home in heaven to walk this world with the likes of you. He didn't have to, but He wanted to because He loves you. He came to this sin-sick world to become infected with your sin at the cross. There He gave His body in death and shed His blood to ransom you. His body He forfeited, so that by eating His body and drinking His blood at communion, you may become of the Body of Christ forever!

How else does your life of humility look now? Well it's not to your honor, but to God's. Therefore you are given to honor the things of God, for by doing so you show Him respect. Take marriage. It is not something you get to define by your own notions. It is a gift of God Who joins together a man and his wife. This you are to honor, keeping the marriage bed chaste. Yet what have you done? Sex outside of marriage, unfaithfulness to your spouse, and you fall into all kinds of debauchery that defiles you.

Has God treated His relationship with you as you have acted in your relationships with people? Hardly! Where you have been the unfaithful one, time and again in your relationship with God, He's been nothing but faithful to you. Though He has every reason to leave you, instead He says, "No, I won't abandon you, I won't leave you." He proclaims His unending love for you in Christ Jesus, your Husband, Who by His sacrifice at Calvary has redeemed you as His bride as Boaz redeemed Ruth..

How else does your place in life's humility manifest itself? It shows itself in your stuff. You are to consider the blessings God has chosen to give you as *sufficient*. But you don't. You are jealous of other people; you envy their job, their family, their possessions; you are greedy to obtain more stuff as you strive to "keep up with the Joneses". You fail to consider God to provide, because you are not satisfied with what He's given you so far. You should be content with God's blessings, but you aren't.

Has God stopped providing for you since you've been so ungrateful? No way! He's still your Helper. You have no reason to fear that you will be lacking any good thing. God provides for you as a loving Father provides for His children, because you are God's Own child! At your baptism, God adopted you into His heavenly family. He gave you God's Own Name that day, cleansing you from your sins which Jesus bore for you at the cross. He even gave you Christ's Own righteousness as your own!

So what's your place in this humble life? Being convicted of your sins by God's law is a good start. But you don't remain lowly for long. A servant to God and others in word and deed on this earth, yet being served by Your Savior Jesus, Who has raised you up into Himself at your baptism, and will exalt you fully when He returns on the last day. For although you waffle in your humble walk as a Christian, Jesus never does. He's the same yesterday, today and forever! He keeps on speaking God's word to you, by which He keeps on forgiving you, saving you, giving you life, and exalting you heavenward.  Amen.

Hymns for today from LSB:

#706   Love in Christ is Strong and Living
#842   Son of God, Eternal Savior
#845   Where Charity and Love Prevail

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