It is one thing to have ambition, but quite another thing to be selfishly ambitions for position and power. The man with true ambition will prepare himself, be faithful in his work, and watch for God-given opportunities for growth and advancement. He knows there are no successful shortcuts to the top. The ambitious man is so concerned with the end that he is not careful about the means to the end, and he will use any means—fair or foul—to get to the top.
A successful insurance man I know resigned his top position to start at the bottom in a different company. He explained his decision to me as we sat in his office. “I got to the top by bluffing. I didn’t really learn the business as I should. I had a successful business, but I was not a successful person. My character suffered. Now I’m starting all over at the bottom, and it’s terrific what the Lord is doing in me!”
A person’s worth is not based on position, a title on the door, or the applause of people, but on Christian character and his relationship to God.
A Lesson in Generosity (14:12-14)
Having taught the proud guests a lesson, Jesus then turned to the host and tried to help him. The Lord noticed that the Pharisee had invited as guests only the people who were important, influential, and rich. These guests probably would, in turn, invite the host to their houses, and on and on it would go. These people really were not hungry, and they did not need the meal. Christ was not opposing hospitality or showing hospitality to those who can repay us. The tense of the Greek verb in verse 12 helps us understand His statement: “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not always keep inviting your friends” (literal translation). In other words, do not get into the habit of entertaining only those who entertain you.
Before we criticize this Pharisee, let’s examine our own social life to see whether or not we may belong to a Christian clique or an evangelical mutual admiration society. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the fellowship of good friends, but we are sinning if we do this exclusively. It is difficult for visitors, and even new church members, to break into the exclusive clubs that form in almost every local church. Shame on those saintly social climbers who want to be seen with whom they think are the best people. Jesus taught us to live to serve others and to get our reward from God alone. A pastor friend of mine, now with the Lord, often reminded me, “You can’t get your reward twice. You will get it either from men today or the Lord tomorrow.” Of course, there is an inner joy and enrichment when we obey the Lord and share with those less fortunate than we are. But there is also an eternal reward from the Lord if we have served Him and our motives have been pure.
Christian hospitality is an exciting ministry. “Being given to hospitality” (Rom. 12:13) is a mark of a Christian. Peter admonished believers who were going through suffering, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging” (1 Peter 4:9). And the writer to the Hebrews wrote, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers. For thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2). No matter what may be your views on the Second Coming of Christ, you must admit that the Lord emphasized practical hospitality (see Matt. 25:31ff).
The Lord gave three practical lessons on sympathy, humility, and generosity. At that point one of the guests (probably under conviction) thought he would make a spiritual remark, so he shouted, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15). This remark led Jesus to give the climactic parable of the meal, the Parable of the Great Supper.
© 2006 Warren W. Wiersbe
© 1989 by The Good News Broadcasting Association, Inc. All rights reserved.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).