The Review and Herald

795/1902

October 8, 1895

Choose the Lowest Place

EGW

“And he spake a parable unto those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief seats.” (R. V.) The chief rooms are not to be understood as the rooms of the house, but the most exalted positions at the table, the places nearest the one most honored at the feast. Jesus marked the deportment of those who chose out the best seats, looking upon themselves as most deserving, and having no reference to those who were yet to come, or to those who were more deserving. He said: “When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honorable man than thou be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher; then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” RH October 8, 1895, par. 1

In this parable Christ gives a safe precept as to the proper manner of conducting ourselves when so greatly honored as to be invited as a guest to the house of one who is honorable. The word of God not only lays out the great principles that should underlie our actions, but also gives a definite rule with which to regulate our conduct. How perfectly adapted are the lessons of Christ to the regulation of society! The Lord desires that all who claim God as their Father should bring their actions into accordance with heavenly principles. He would have men recognize their obligation to their fellowmen. He would not have his children striving for the highest place. RH October 8, 1895, par. 2

In this parable the Lord shows us that he disapproves of the efforts of men who seek to be thought the greatest. The spirit that urges men to seek the highest place, is accompanied with pride, selfishness, and self-esteem, and the result will be that he who struggles for the highest position will find himself in the lowest. Nothing will make a man really great except to be truly good. But he who is wholly consecrated to God does not have the exaltation of self in view, but the glory of God. Amid the scenes of daily life, character is developed and made manifest. As we seek to bring the truth into practical life, we shall see the importance of taking heed to ourselves. The Christian is to imitate Christ. He is not to be careless of the proprieties of life; in so doing he places himself where he will reveal human attributes, and misrepresent the character of Christ. But wherever Christlike religion is manifested, it will work a blessing, and every detail of life will be made fragrant by the influence of the divine Spirit. RH October 8, 1895, par. 3

The Pharisees thought themselves righteous above all men upon the earth; but the Lord gave them a lesson that revealed their true spirit. Some who were present took the lesson to heart, and avoided the course that he pointed out as being abhorrent in the sight of God. He had come to restore the moral image of God in man. On another occasion he said, “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!” Self-exaltation leads to most inconsistent manifestations. Those who indulge this spirit may profess the name of Christ, but their acts of selfishness, their inconsistency, put stumbling-blocks in the way of sinners, and we shall never know in this world the mischief that is done by their inconsistent course. The absence of Christian humility and meekness is expressed in character. The more men neglect to cultivate these attributes, the less they will manifest the character of Christ, and the more strenuous will be their efforts to exalt self. But the exaltation of self is a marked witness against those who indulge in it, and in place of leading to exaltation, it leads to abasement, and he who would be highest will find himself in the lowest position. RH October 8, 1895, par. 4

Christ says: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” He who cherishes pride and selfish feelings will show that he is seeking self-exaltation in the little and larger things of life. Those who are really worthy of attention and preference will never be found putting themselves forward, but will leave the best and highest places for some one else, esteeming others better than themselves. Yet this very modesty and humility of character cannot be hid. The person who is willing to be little and unknown will be esteemed, for his life will be fragrant with unselfish actions. He will not be ostentatious, and seek to impress upon others in a lower position that he is vastly their superior. Grace works quietly and steadily, and educates the believing soul in such a way that he conforms to principles upon which a well directed education is founded. It is the Spirit of God that works to mold and fashion the human agent through acts oft repeated, to the model of Christ's character. Faithful in little things, the Christian pays strict attention to the smallest matters, and thus forms a character that will lead him to be faithful in great matters. He possesses the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. God has made us his own by creation and redemption, and if we are willing to occupy a lowly position in this life, are content to be little and unknown, we shall have full recognition in the future life. Our Redeemer will say, “Child, come up higher.” God has caused the sun to bless with its light not only the mountain heights, but the lowly valleys and plains, and he will cause the beams of the Sun of Righteousness to fill the souls of those who are humble and contrite, whose spirit is meek and lowly. The love and grace of Christ will fill the soul of him who humbly walks with God as did Enoch. It is in proportion as the heart is sanctified by grace, and filled with active love for God and for our fellow-men, that we do nothing for show or by compulsion. Those who love God do that which is pleasant for them to do, and that is to reveal God in character, and submit the whole heart to the sanctification of the truth. RH October 8, 1895, par. 5

God has promised to give wisdom to those who feel their need of it. He says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” We must feel our need of wisdom daily, or else we shall not seek it, and will become filled with self-sufficiency, self-importance, and thus be unfitted to learn the lesson that Christ has given in regard to becoming meek and lowly of heart. All need wisdom to understand that it is true greatness to keep company with Jesus Christ, to walk in meekness and humility with God, cultivating single-hearted simplicity, and being ever ready to receive instruction from the great Teacher. God has promised his Holy Spirit, which is sufficient to teach us, illuminating to our minds the word of God, which, if practiced, will thoroughly furnish a man unto all good works. God's commandments are exceeding broad. RH October 8, 1895, par. 6

The lesson Christ gave at the feast was to show that pretensions, ambitious display, and strife for supremacy, will have a tendency to create envy and jealousy, and will lead those who cherish these desires to pull down others in order to exalt self. God has endowed some of his servants with special talents and gifts, and no one is called upon to disparage their excellence. These qualifications are to be appreciated, to be cultivated by their possessors, and to be employed in the Master's service. But let none use their precious attributes in exalting themselves. Let them not regard themselves as favored above their fellow-men, and vaunt themselves above those who are sincere and earnest workers. The Lord looks upon the heart. He who is most devoted to the service of God is most highly esteemed by the heavenly universe. Those who occupy positions of influence are responsible to God and to their fellow-men. But their position does not constitute them more pious and holy than their fellow men. The greater their influence, the larger is their responsibility, and the greater the necessity to comfort themselves as God's stewards, that they may deal with Christlike tenderness and consideration, and reveal the fine feelings which should control men who occupy positions of trust. Those who are placed in responsible positions should be as fathers,—just, tender, and true. They should represent the character of Christ. They should unite themselves with their brethren in the closest bonds of union and fellowship, appreciating the fact that the sympathies and prayers of their brethren will be great aids to them in assisting them to deal with justice and equity. RH October 8, 1895, par. 7

The Lord tests character. He permits men to occupy positions of influence, and the universe of heaven watches to see how they will fulfill their stewardship. If one is seen exalting himself, and oppressing his fellow-laborers who are in a more lowly position, if he is harsh and unsympathetic toward those who are not as favorably situated as he is himself, then he is failing to represent the character of his professed Master. If he is exacting, demanding of others what he would not do himself, taking advantage of circumstances to favor his own interests, then his plans are not in harmony with God's plans, and he is revealing a principle that has a demoralizing tendency. He is seeking to lift up himself. After a time the Lord will manifestly abase the man who has taken a position in the highest seat. In his providence he will permit circumstances to come that will bring down the lofty thoughts of self, that will shake his confidence in self, and cause him to cast aside pride and self-esteem, and to take a lowly seat. But the Lord lifts up the humble, and raises up those who are bowed down, and makes manifest the fact that those who realize that they are poor and needy are his heritage and special care. RH October 8, 1895, par. 8