The Signs of the Times


July 16, 1896

Before Honor is Humility


God had signally blessed the Jews, and they had been unfaithful to their trust; tho professing to be the people of God, they would have no place in the kingdom of heaven. They had been made the depository of sacred truth; they had had light far in advance of any other nation on the face of the earth, and yet by misappropriating the great gifts lent to them in trust, by dishonoring and misrepresenting God, by becoming self-righteous and self-important, they had lost the precious graces of the Spirit of God, and were wholly unfit for the heavenly courts. They had not honored God, therefore God could not honor them. They had counted other people as unworthy to associate with them. They had despised them, and fully believed that they themselves would go into heaven before others. But those whom they despised, who made a more faithful use of their privileges, would be accepted to God, and would enter heaven, to sit down with distinguished men who did not reject the world's Redeemer, or cast contempt upon the law of Jehovah. ST July 16, 1896, par. 1

The words that Christ spoke to John and James, recorded in Matthew 20:21, 22, contain a deep, unchangeable truth. Tho they did not understand its full significance when it was spoken to them, they afterward appreciated its meaning; for the Holy Spirit enlightened their minds. These words are written for our instruction as well as theirs. We are in the same danger as were those who supposed that they were the very favorites of heaven, who supposed that Christ had come to exalt the Jews as a nation, and to break the yoke of bondage under which they groaned with such a sense of humiliation. They excluded the gentiles from any participation in the kingdom of God; but Jesus distinctly told them that many who were called heathen would be saved, while those who had neglected to improve their rich opportunities, and who did not appreciate the treasures of truth, would be cast into outer darkness. ST July 16, 1896, par. 2

If we would be children of God in deed and in truth, we must seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and decide that we will be doers of the words of Christ, that we will obey God rather than men. We are to honor human agencies in whom we see the loveliness of Christ's character, but we are not to dishonor God, and him who was the Sent of God, by giving to men flattering titles. The greatest Teacher the world ever knew left no example of this character for us to follow. He did not call any fallible, sinful man by a title that belongs alone to God. No human being heard the title of reverend or right reverend from his lips as applied to man. Our highest honor is our humility. Christ, who was the most exalted among men and angels, bids us to learn of Him who is meek and lowly of heart. Those who took high titles to themselves, were rebuked by Christ as hypocrites. He said that they would not enter into the kingdom of heaven themselves nor permit others to do so. They made great pretensions, and presented themselves before the people as those who had superior knowledge of the Scriptures, but Christ said of them that they were ignorant both of the Scriptures and of the power of God. He said, “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” ST July 16, 1896, par. 3

The Pharisees sought in every way to destroy the force of the truth, and to eclipse the light of God from the view of the people. Professing to be representatives of God, under the garb of religion, they committed the grossest transgressions. Christ came to represent the Father, and therefore they were stirred with enmity against him, and were determined to put him out of the way. Christ placed the principles of the Gospel before the minds of his disciples and the people in order that they might see how great was the contrast between the spirit of true religion and that of the religion professed by the Pharisees. ST July 16, 1896, par. 4

John and James, who made the request that they might sit, one on the right hand and the other on the left hand of Christ in his kingdom, did not make this request in the spirit that many have thought they did. They both loved Christ, and desired to be as close as possible to his person. It was customary for John to take his position next to the Saviour at every possible opportunity. James also longed to be honored with as close a connection with Christ as John desired. But when the ten heard of the request that had been made, “they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.” Jesus called his disciples to him, and said: “Ye know that the princes of the gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” This means that those who would be great in the church of God must act as true shepherds in his church. They are to follow the example that Christ has given. “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant; even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” ST July 16, 1896, par. 5

The Mind of Christ

Jesus did not come to earth with outward pomp and display. His works of divine love and mercy were to testify to his divine origin and character. Those who would not receive him because of his outward humility, would be of no value to the Saviour, no blessing to humanity. He clothed his divinity with humanity, and yet he did not require that any one should minister unto him. He came to labor for others. He ever strove to do men good; he provided for their necessities. Among his disciples he was in every sense a care-taker, a burden-bearer. He shared their poverty. He practiced self-denial on their account. He went before them to smooth the more difficult places, and now he was nearing the time when he would consummate his work for men on earth by laying down his life. He paid his life as the price for our redemption. ST July 16, 1896, par. 6

The lessons given to the disciples of Christ, are full of significance, and present most profitable instruction for us who believe. We are not to act after the manner, precept, or example of men who are in authority in earthly positions, but to minister to others, to be servants to all, “even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” The kingdom of God is established on different principles than are the kingdoms of this world. There is to be no rank among the servants of Christ. Christ says, “All ye are brethren.” The rich, the poor, the learned, the unlearned, the bond, and the free are equally God's heritage, and he who is most exalted in the sight of God is he who has most genuine humility, the deepest sense of his unworthiness, the greatest realization of his dependence upon God. Those who truly love God, truly love their fellow-men. They constantly seek to do good to all those who are connected with them. They are laborers together with God. ST July 16, 1896, par. 7

Christ did not reprove John and James and their mother for offering this request to sit upon his right hand and upon his left hand in the kingdom. In presenting the principles of love that should actuate them in their dealings one with another, he presents to the indignant disciples the instruction that he would have them practice in their daily lives. They were to take his life as an example, and follow in his steps. The apostle presents this matter before us also in its true light, and says: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.” ST July 16, 1896, par. 8

Christ lived the law. He copied no human model, he drew no lessons from the maxims that guided the world. He was the brightness of his Father's glory, the express image of his person. He thought it not a thing to be grasped to be equal with God, and yet there was not one act of oppression in his whole life. He bore patiently with Judas. Judas condemned himself in betraying his Lord, gave himself up to the enemy, passed sentence upon himself, and put himself to death. How tenderly Jesus dealt with Peter; tho he denied him three times, yet he looked upon Peter with sorrowful regret, with pardoning love! It was that look that broke the heart of the disciple. Let us look upon the spotless life of Christ, appreciate his unstained purity of character, and pray earnestly, “Be thou my pattern.” ST July 16, 1896, par. 9

Christ was ever touched with human woe. He healed the sick. He worked miracles. He condescended to go to those who could not come to him. He raised the dead. And yet he bore with meekness and patience the charge that he cast out devils through the prince of devils. He denounced every abomination in the land. His own spotless, untainted purity put to shame every evil practice. It was this character that showed up in contrast the character of those who were deceiving the people and lording it over God's heritage. His lips were free from all guile; zeal for God's honor was unceasingly apparent in his life, and yet the most inveterate hatred was aroused against the only-begotten Son of God, who hated sin alone, yet loved the sinner. Satan could find nothing in Christ by which to lead him from the path of rectitude. Judas declared, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” Pilate, who condemned him, said, “I find no fault in him.” But, tho spotless, tho blameless, he was delivered to be crucified. Shall we who have been purchased by the blood of Christ complain of hardships? shall we for whom Christ has died oppress one another? Shall we who are mortal, erring men, heap reproach upon those who are mortal, erring men like ourselves? Shall we think it too great a disgrace to suffer reproach for the name of Christ?—God forbid. Let us go without the camp, and, if required, bear reproach cheerfully, gladly, for Christ's sake. If we have found Christ precious to our souls, then we owe it to Jesus to tell others of his preciousness, to lead them to understand what they shall do to inherit eternal life. We have received much of heaven; we are to impart much of heaven. We are to make known the ways of Christ upon earth. ST July 16, 1896, par. 10