Luke 14:12-14 (NIV) Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, 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.”
Jesus said these words at a banquet in the house of a Pharisee, and a wealthy one at that. It was common practice then, as it is in many circles today, to invite people of status to your banquets and parties, not because they were friends, but because social norms dictated that, if they deigned to come to your banquet, they were obligated to invite you to their next banquet. So people tended to load their guest lists with those that they wanted to be invited by in the future. So every party that a person threw tended to be loaded with the ulterior motive of climbing the social ladder, no matter how altruistic their stated reason for inviting their guests might be.
Jesus, on the other hand, saw through the surface reasoning, straight into the heart. Inviting people over is nice, sure. But if the people we invite, invite us back, our goodness and niceness will have been repaid, and God will not bless us for it.
If we want God to notice what a nice person we are to others, then we need to show that we have no ulterior, social-climbing motive hiding in the background by inviting those who have no potential to invite us back, no potential to improve our social standing. Such people, in those days and in ours, are the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. If we invite these, God knows that we are doing it from a pure motive, to simply bless those who are less fortunate, since there is no way that they could ever pay us back. And He promises to bless us in their place.
This is not to say that Christians can’t invite people to dinner who are well-to-do, or who could help our career. It simply means that if our motives are social gain or advancement, we can’t dress it up as a compassionate event and expect God to pour out His blessing on us.
Father, You always cut right to the heart of the matter, inspecting not just our actions, but our motives as well. Lord, help me to always act with motives that are firmly fixed on glorifying You and advancing Your kingdom, so that I can always receive Your great blessings. Amen.