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From Heaven With Love

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    Strife for Highest Place

    The Saviour said to them, “If any man desire to be first, the same 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 contention. But the real cause lay deeper. Even after they had received the fullest knowledge, any question of precedence might have renewed the trouble. Thus disaster would have been brought to the church after Christ's departure. The strife for the highest place was the outworking of that same spirit which was the beginning of the great controversy in the worlds above and which 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. The desire for self-exaltation had brought strife into the heavenly courts. Lucifer desired God's power, but not His character. He sought the highest place, and every being actuated 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 steppingstone on which to climb to a higher place.HLv 294.1

    While Lucifer sought to be equal with God, Christ “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.” 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 as He spoke of His humiliation for them.HLv 295.1

    Jesus tried to correct the evil. He showed what is the principle that bears sway in the kingdom of heaven, and in what true greatness consists. Those who were actuated by pride and love of distinction were thinking of themselves, and of the rewards they were to have. They would have no place in the kingdom of heaven, for they were identified with the ranks of Satan.HLv 295.2

    Before honor is humility. To fill a high place before men, Heaven chooses the worker who takes a lowly place before God. The most childlike disciple is the most efficient in labor for God. He who feels his need of divine aid will plead for it. From communion with Christ he will go forth to work, anointed for his mission, and he succeeds where many of the intellectually wise would fail.HLv 295.3

    But when men exalt themselves, feeling that they are a necessity for the success of God's plan, the Lord causes them to be set aside. The work does not stop, but goes forward with greater power.HLv 295.4

    It was not enough for the disciples of Jesus to be instructed as to 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 folding the little one in His arms, He said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The simplicity, the self-forgetfulness, and the confiding 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, learned and ignorant, meet together as blood-bought souls, with no thought of caste or worldly preeminence.HLv 295.5

    God places His own signet on men, not by rank, not by wealth, not by intellectual greatness, but by their oneness with Christ. “Thou hast also given me,” said David, “the shield of Thy salvation: ... and Thy gentleness”—as an element in the human character—“hath made me great.” Psalm 18:35.HLv 296.1

    The Saviour's words awakened in the disciples a feeling of self-distrust. John was led to question whether in one case his action had been right. “Master,” he said, “we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, ... and we forbade him, because he followeth not us.”HLv 296.2

    James and John thought that in checking this man they had in view their Lord's honor; they began to see they were jealous for their own. They acknowledged their error, and accepted the reproof of Jesus, “Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly 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 souls. They must manifest the same far-reaching sympathy they had seen in their Master.HLv 296.3

    Christ is the Great Teacher; we are to sit at His feet and learn of Him. Every soul whom God has made willing is a channel through which Christ will reveal His pardoning love. How careful we should be lest we discourage one of God's light bearers, and thus intercept the rays He would have shine to the world!HLv 296.4

    Such an act as that of John in forbidding one to work miracles in Christ's name might result in causing the loss of a soul. Rather than for one to do this, said Jesus, “It is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”HLv 296.5

    Why this strong language? Because “the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10. Shall His disciples show less regard for the souls of their fellowmen than the Majesty of heaven has shown? How terrible the sin of turning one soul away, so that for him the Saviour's love and agony shall have been in vain.HLv 296.6

    “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come.” RSV. The world will surely oppose the followers of Christ, but woe to him who has taken Christ's name and yet is found doing this work. Multitudes are deceived and led into false paths by those who claim to serve Him but misrepresent His character.HLv 297.1

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