A wedding is an interesting endeavor. You want to invite all of your friends and family to come celebrate your “big day”, eat food, dance, and share love and affection with those closest to you. The actual inviting can become much less altruistic when the guest list needs to be reduce because the food is $12 a plate, The Convention Center is too expensive. That is when one’s “value” is determined. Aunt Edna is invited because she always send the nicest (most expensive) gifts, cheapskate Uncle Edgar is not invited, and Cousin Marcia is not invited because she will bring her 4 children and because her husband is always traveling, those 4 curtain climbers will be doing just that.
A friend got married and on the day of the wedding, the state was coated in freezing rain preventing many from making the trip. A wedding planned for 200 was suddenly populated by about 5 people. To add to the frustration was something that would have been great if more people had shown up than said they would, but not with a quarter of the people planned for… there was enough food to feed about 400 people. The bride and groom made the best of it but in the calm mind of the bride’s father, he had a plan. After the Saturday wedding was completed and the reception cleaned up, Sunday morning brought a feast for the homeless shelter that served the city of 250,000 people. Those that were invited were not the ones who enjoyed the food, but those who enjoyed the food were a bigger blessing to that couple than if everyone invited had been there.
Jesus tells the Parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14:15-24 where a man prepared a banquet for his friends and family but one by one, they gave excuses for why they couldn’t attend. In the end, the man has his servants invite everyone far and wide, even outside of his own territory, so that the banquet could be enjoyed and nothing wasted. As with most scriptures though, we have to go back a bit to Luke 14:1-14 to see that Jesus Himself is at a banquet and ultimately tells the Pharisees (Churchy People) to be humble themselves at banquets and when throwing their own, not to invite those who will just invite them in return. He tells them to “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Our motivation in who we invite often reveals what we desire to get in return. When we treat the poor and lowly in our world with honor, we will one day be honored by God. If we invite in order to get something in return from others, we will find ourselves all the poorer for it.
Do I value others based on what they benefits they offer to me?
Does my generosity have an agenda? Do I give to get something back?