The Signs of the Times


May 14, 1896

When Thou Makest A Feast, Call the Poor


When the Lord was invited to the house of the chief Pharisee, he not only reproved those who chose out the highest places, but gave them instruction as to what kind of guests they should invite to their feasts. “Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee.” ST May 14, 1896, par. 1

This is a lesson of great importance to those to whom the Lord has intrusted riches, and many do not consider the interests of those who are in less favorable circumstances than they are themselves. “When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and thou shalt be blessed; for they can not recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” ST May 14, 1896, par. 2

How few who claim to be Christians practice the lesson that Christ has given on this point! In principle this was not new teaching; for the Old Testament gave rules that should control the action of those who loved God. From the pillar of cloud, Christ had given instructions to his people, saying: “If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother; but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.... For the poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.” These words had been given to Moses to speak to the children of Israel. They were among the last words that he spoke to the Hebrew nation. Their invisible Leader, who was enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, gave these words of instruction to the people who had been chosen of God to be the light of the world. ST May 14, 1896, par. 3

How closely does the instruction given at the lips of Moses harmonize with the instruction that fell from the lips of Christ at the Pharisee's house! He presented to the Pharisees the principles that were ever to be maintained by his representatives in the world. Christ saw abundant reason for repeating the principles that he had given in the Old Testament; for his professed people failed to carry them out in practical life. The poor were not to cease out of the land; they were always to remain in it, in order that there should be need for the continual exercise of beneficence. Through this means a counteracting influence was set into operation against the temptation to become selfish, to appropriate the Lord's intrusted gifts, to use the opportunities and privileges which he had given them in gratifying themselves. Should they neglect the poor, and fail to diffuse light, then they would represent Satan, while flattering themselves that they were representing the principles of the character of God. The Lord reminds those assembled that God desires them to impart of his bounty to those who are less fortunate. ST May 14, 1896, par. 4

In his conversation at the table the Lord was not speaking new truth, advancing new doctrines, or expounding new principles. He was repeating an old commandment which he had previously given to Moses to be given to them. He wished them to understand that his teachings in nowise lessened the force of the commandments previously given. The feasts and the suppers that were given by the priests, the Pharisees, and rulers, were given merely for selfish enjoyment. They called in their favorites, their wealthy relatives and friends, who would in their turn invite them to feasts at their houses, and, if possible, spread before them more abundant supplies. Jesus sought to extend their vision, to show them that they had a duty, which was obligatory upon them for all time, and that was to minister to the poor, the lame, the halt, and the blind. He also would have them consider the fact that no duty done to the needy, the afflicted, and the sorrowing, would lose its reward. ST May 14, 1896, par. 5

No man should be content to settle down in the comfortable home that was provided for him through the benevolence of God, and close his eyes and hands, so that he shall not see the wants of the poor, nor administer to their necessities. Every man is called upon to cultivate the attributes that God will approve. We should cast aside selfish, earthly ambitions. Instead of exhausting our powers in strife for the first and highest place, seeking to be esteemed as honorable by men, we should seek to help others to enjoy the precious things that are given to us of God. We should not drop eternity out of our reckoning, but remember that in blessing others we shall bring a sure return to ourselves. Those who follow the example of Christ will receive nothing less than heaven, and the life that measures with the life of God. ST May 14, 1896, par. 6

The Lord Jesus entreats human agents not to cheat themselves out of heavenly treasures, and deprive themselves of an immortal inheritance by hoarding their earthly treasures, and by seeking to provide for themselves a portion in this life. He would have them understand that they are a part of the great web of humanity, and that they are to interweave their interests with the interests of others, and recognize that they are a part of the web of humanity, by supplying the needs of God's suffering poor. Christ gives cautions and warnings that are of the highest importance, urging men to establish their principal interest in heaven. “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and thou shalt be blessed; for they can not recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” In his sermon on the mount he brought forth the same truth when he said: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” ST May 14, 1896, par. 7