In this passage he identifies the world system of favors and reciprocity that works so well in politics and commerce. It's a very personal and pointed comment here as he addresses the host of the dinner. The expectation was, and usually still is, that those you invite to a dinner will also invite you to their dinners as well. And Jesus exhorts the host to reject this paradigm and instead, invite those whom he knows will not, cannot, return the favor.
Again Jesus is exhorting those around him to a life of humility, not self exaltation. In the previous admonition he encourages them to humble themselves. Here he tells them to identify with those in humble circumstances. Once again, we find that Jesus didn't just teach this stuff, he lived it. Rejecting the accepted way of getting noticed and building an empire, Jesus instead surrounds himself with fishermen and tax collectors. Those of the religious elite who believed in him are on the periphery.
And what was the result? Initially he identified with the very worst of us by dying on the cross, the barbaric equivalent of modern day capital punishment, but with all the torture that can be added to it. But after his resurrection, he is, without a doubt, the most exalted person in history.
How does this impact what I do for others? Am I willing to do things for others knowing I'll never be rewarded for it in this life? It's amazing how even the charity organizations and many of those involved in them have been infused by the world system. Why do I do things for others? To get a tax write-off? To get others to praise my philanthropy? To feel good about myself? Do I participate in seed-faith giving so that I will get more in return? This can be so tricky because every time a charitable activity becomes institutionalized, the world system infiltrates and robs it of it's Kingdom effectiveness.
This Christmas I want to engage in a charitable activity that is truly a Kingdom activity -- one that is not tainted by the world system of reciprocal giving. Give to someone or some activity where we expect nothing in return including such things as tax write-offs, pats on the back from others, or other rewards. This will probably require anonymity. This can be difficult, but is worth the effort in terms of the Kingdom of God.
"But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matt. 6:3-4 NIV