“When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.”Luke 14:12–14
Is Jesus telling us that it is sinful to invite friends and family to a dinner party? Certainly not. He is teaching us about something much deeper. Throwing a dinner party for others is good when our motive is love. But if the goal of the dinner, or any other act of charity, is vainglory, then the vanity we achieve from such an act is the payment we will receive. Sadly, the “payment” of vainglory is sought and obtained by many in various ways. Jesus’ lesson teaches us that our only motive for the good we do should be the humble and hidden motive of loving service.
As a result of the temptation to pride, we can easily find ourselves being inordinately concerned about what others think about us. Holding a lunch or dinner for friends, family, and your wealthy neighbors is simply an illustration of the sin of pride at work. Within this context, Jesus is speaking about a person who performs some act for the sole purpose of building up their self-image and obtaining praise and flattery from others. This form of “glory” is truly vain in that it is not only worthless to the good of the soul, it is also damaging.
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