Sunday, February 13, 2011

Radical politeness

I came across this article today: 4 Star General, 5 Star Grace, and two things really stood out to me. The first was one of sadness: Not to minimize the actions of General Chiarelli, as they were stellar, but this article brings home the lack of civility in our society.

The second thing was that this, once again, the teachings of Jesus are no less relevant today than they were in the first century. Consider:

“When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”” (Luke 14:7–11 NIV)

The general could have easily been offended, made a comment that would have humiliated the woman who asked, and the social pages would have read something like "Can you BELIEVE she asked the general to get her a glass of wine???" and there would have been much humor at the requester's expense. But by being humble and gracious, General Chiarelli instead is the hero of this tale instead of the victim. Indeed, by humbling himself General Chiarelli has been exalted in the media and by those who witnessed the event, just as the parable teaches.

How often do we focus on what we deserve rather than how we can be humble and serve others? Perhaps we all need to re-read Luke 14 and remember that a little humility goes a long way.