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Humble Hero

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    Strife for the Highest Place

    The Savior said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” They did not understand the nature of Christ’s kingdom, and this was the apparent cause of their conflict. But the real cause lay deeper. Even after they had received the fullest knowledge, any question of rank or position might have started the trouble again. This would bring disaster to the church after Christ’s departure. The battle for the highest place was the outworking of that same spirit that had started the great controversy in the worlds above and had brought Christ from heaven to die. There rose up before Him a vision of Lucifer, who had said, “I will be like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:14. This desire to exalt himself had brought strife into the heavenly courts. Lucifer wanted God’s power but not His character. He sought the highest place, and every being moved by his spirit will do the same. The kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of force. Every individual regards every other as an obstacle in the way of his own advancement or a stepping-stone on which to climb to a higher place.HH 202.4

    While Lucifer wanted to be equal with God, Christ “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:7, 8. Now the cross was just before Him, and His own disciples were so filled with self-seeking that they could not enter into sympathy with their Lord or even understand Him when He spoke of His humiliation for them.HH 203.1

    Jesus tried to correct the evil. He showed what the principle is that prevails in the kingdom of heaven and what makes for true greatness. Those who were controlled by pride and love of distinction were thinking of themselves and the rewards they would have. There would be no place for them in the kingdom of heaven, for they belonged to the ranks of Satan.HH 203.2

    Before honor is humility. To fill a high place before others, Heaven chooses the worker who takes a lowly place before God. The most childlike disciple is the most efficient in labor for God. Those who feel their need of divine aid will plead for it. From communion with Christ they will go out to work, anointed for their mission, and they succeed where many of the intellectually wise would fail.HH 203.3

    But when people exalt themselves, feeling that they are necessary for God’s plan to succeed, the Lord causes them to be set aside. The work does not stop but goes forward with greater power.HH 203.4

    It was not enough for the disciples of Jesus to be instructed about the nature of His kingdom. What they needed was a change of heart. Calling a little child to Him, Jesus set him in the midst of them. Then tenderly wrapping the little one in His arms, He said, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” The simplicity, self-forgetfulness, and trusting love of a little child are the attributes that Heaven values, the characteristics of real greatness. At the feet of Jesus, earthly dignity and display are forgotten. Rich and poor, the educated and the ignorant, meet together as blood-bought souls, with no thought of social levels or worldly superiority.HH 203.5

    God places His own mark of ownership on us, not by rank, not by wealth, not by intellectual greatness, but by our oneness with Christ. “You have also given me,” said David, “the shield of Your salvation; ... Your gentleness”—as an element in the human character—“has made me great.” Psalm 18:35.HH 203.6

    The Savior’s words awakened a feeling of self-distrust in the disciples. John began to question whether his actions in a certain case had been right. “Teacher,” he said, “we saw someone ... casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.”HH 203.7

    James and John thought that in stopping this man they were defending their Lord’s honor. Now they began to see that they were jealous for their own. They acknowledged their error and accepted Jesus’ reproof, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me.” Many had been deeply moved by the character and work of Christ, and their hearts were opening to Him in faith. The disciples must be careful not to discourage these people. They must show the same far-reaching sympathy they had seen in their Master.HH 203.8

    Christ is the Great Teacher. We are to sit at His feet and learn from Him. Every individual whom God has made willing is a channel through whom Christ will reveal His pardoning love. How careful we should be not to discourage one of God’s light bearers and thus intercept the rays He wants to have shine to the world!HH 204.1

    Actions like John’s in forbidding someone to work miracles in Christ’s name might result in causing that person to lose salvation. Rather than for anyone to do this, said Jesus, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.”HH 204.2

    Why this strong language? Because “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10. Should His disciples show less regard for the salvation of others than the Majesty of heaven has shown? How terrible the sin of turning one person away, so that for him the Savior’s love and agony will have been in vain.HH 204.3

    “Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come.” NRSV. The world will surely oppose the followers of Christ, but woe to anyone who has taken Christ’s name and yet is found doing this work. Many are deceived and led into false paths by those who claim to serve Him but misrepresent His character.HH 204.4

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