The Signs of the Times



January 6, 1887

A Lesson in Humility and Love


“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:2-6. ST January 6, 1887, par. 1

The disciples had been disputing among themselves which of them should be greatest, as we learn from the account of this incident given by Mark and Luke. The disciples did not understand the nature of the kingdom that Christ was to set up. They looked for an earthly kingdom, with an earthly rule; their ambition was aroused, and there was an anxiety for the first place. Jesus understood the thoughts and feelings of their hearts. He saw that they lacked the precious grace of humility, and that here was a lesson which it was essential for them to learn. He knew the subject of their conversation by the way, when they had spoken freely, thinking themselves alone. So calling a little child unto him, he said to them, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” ST January 6, 1887, par. 2

Again Jesus said: “Whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.” Here we have an expression of the care which our Saviour has for his people. Man is the crowning glory of the Creator's works, and he has been redeemed at an inconceivable cost to the Son of God. None but he could restore to man the moral image of God, which had been lost through transgression. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He is represented as the true Shepherd. Leaving the ninety and nine in the wilderness, he goes in search of the wandering, straying sheep. He continues to search under the most discouraging circumstances, shrinking not from hardships and peril, until he finds the wanderer; and then all the suffering, and trial, and peril endured for its sake are forgotten in the joy of finding the lost sheep. When through genuine repentance for sin, and faith in Christ, the sinner has been brought back to the fold of God, there is joy in Heaven. ST January 6, 1887, par. 3

Jesus here presents the duty of man to his fellow-man. Whatever his position in life, man is the purchase of the blood of Christ, and should not be treated with indifference or contempt. Satan opposes great obstacles to the salvation of the human family. There is a rugged path for them to tread if they would journey Heavenward, and each needs all the encouragement his fellow travelers can give him as he toils up the steep ascent. God's word opens to us the wonderful conflict between light and darkness, good and evil, Heaven and hell. We are each on the battle ground, and Satan is striving for the victory. We should never lay a stumbling-block in the way of one who is fighting the battle with the powers of darkness and his own carnal heart; but we should help one another in the close, hand-to-hand fight with the deceiver of souls, in which we are engaged. ST January 6, 1887, par. 4

I wish we could see this matter in its true light. A man sees himself in slavery to sin, led captive by Satan at his will, and he tries to break the chain of sinful habits by which he is bound. He flees to Jesus as his helper; and our all-pitying Saviour undertakes his case, and enters the field of battle in his behalf. It is the Son of God combating the prince of darkness; and the prize for which they contend is the soul of man. If the sinner trusts implicitly to the mighty Helper, through his strength he becomes a conqueror, and wins the prize of everlasting life. Thus the battle is fought over and over again, and with what interest angels watch the warfare. And when through earnest faith and prayer man obtains the victory, there is joy in the presence of God. ST January 6, 1887, par. 5

But too often man looks with cold indifference upon the conflicts through which his fellow-man is passing, as though these fierce struggles with the powers of darkness were nothing that concerned him. When we see the divine condescension, the sacrifices and sorrows, to which the Son of the infinite God subjected himself in order to accomplish the salvation of the fallen race, how can we remain indifferent? Should not the tenderness, pity, and love of Christ take hold of our very hearts, and lead us to manifest the same spirit toward every soldier in the ranks of our great Captain? Should we not remember that we too are weak, and that in the warfare we are waging we need help and sympathy? ST January 6, 1887, par. 6

Those who are co-laborers with Christ will exercise that carefulness, manifest that love, in dealing with their fellow-men, of which Christ has given us an example in his life, and which he has impressed upon our hearts by the lessons of his word. But our work does not end here. The poor, straying, lost sheep are to be hunted up, and brought back to the fold. They are to be cared for, strengthened, and encouraged. We each need a Saviour, and we each need the sympathy, watchcare, and love of our brethren. As we are brought together in church capacity, we pledge ourselves to be faithful one to another; and any failure in our duty here, any wrong done to our brother, is registered in the books of Heaven as a wrong done to Christ in the person of his saints. ST January 6, 1887, par. 7

If we had a true sense of the work of Christ, we should appreciate the worth of souls for whom he died. “Love one another, as I have loved you,” said Christ. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” As we see the love which Christ has shown for fallen man, the divine compassion which he has manifested for the weak, the erring, and the most sinful, how it should humble our proud hearts, and awaken in them a deep, earnest, and far-reaching love for souls. ST January 6, 1887, par. 8

We are erring, and we shall see errors in those who are connected with us in the faith. They will have to bear with our perversities, and we must bear with theirs. But let us be careful to move with an eye single to the glory of God, and not to offend or grieve the souls so precious in his sight. If we see that a brother is wrong, if we see that he is pursuing a course that will bring darkness upon his own soul, and is imperiling the souls of others, there is one course that Christ has told us to pursue, and there is no other safe course for us to take. ST January 6, 1887, par. 9

If a brother has done you an injury, my Christian friend, you are not to seek revenge, nor even to harbor a desire for retaliation; but you should pity him; he has need of your pity. Have the same feelings of compassion for him that you would have others manifest for you if you were enshrouded in darkness. Call to mind the many times that you have erred, and made mistakes in your life-work; and remember how hard it has been to find the right way when you had once left it. If you have the Spirit of Christ abiding in you, no unkind words will fall from your lips. You will not push your brother into greater darkness, but with a heart full of pity you will tell him of his danger. You will get down and pray with him, and perhaps save his soul from death, and thus cover a multitude of sins. What right have you to pursue any other course than this? If you do, you walk contrary to the rule given by God, and grieve his Holy Spirit. ST January 6, 1887, par. 10

Let us take the words of Christ. If the man has done you an injury, go to him, and between you and him alone seek to set the matter right. Do not go to any one but himself. If he refuses to hear you, then take two or three others, and go to him again; but do not publish it in the church or out of the church. When you have done your duty, if he still refuses to hear you, then let the church take it up; but let them deal gently with the erring. Do not even listen to the gossiping tongue. If one comes to you with an evil report, ask him if he has been to the offending brother, as the Bible directs. If he has not, refuse even to hear him. Nine-tenths of the church trials might be avoided, if all would, in the spirit of kindness and love, pursue the course marked out by Inspiration. This can only be done by breaking down everything like a spirit of self-righteousness. ST January 6, 1887, par. 11

We want love and mercy to take possession of our hearts, and be interwoven with our characters; for just as we deal mercifully with others, God will deal mercifully with us. Oh, for more of the tender love of Jesus, more of the spirit of true humility before God! These are the lessons we must learn individually, in order to preserve harmony and peace, and gain the approval of our heavenly Father. ST January 6, 1887, par. 12

What we need is to be obedient to the word of God. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” ST January 6, 1887, par. 13

Here is brought to view the work of purification that will be carried on by every child of God. Angels are weighing character. They are marking our errors and defects, and recording them in the books of Heaven. In a little time in the future these books will be opened, and every man will be judged according to his deeds, and according to the light that has shone upon his pathway. ST January 6, 1887, par. 14

Basel, Switzerland.