May 29, 2011 – June 4, 2011
The Character of the Wise
“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” Song of Solomon 2:15.
Study Helps: The Signs of the Times, October 22, 1885; Christ’s Object Lessons, 355–360.
“Great truth can be brought into little things; practical religion must be carried into the lowly duties of daily life.” Our High Calling, 228.
- In what ways are the smaller matters in life worthy of our attention? Proverbs 15:16; Song of Solomon 2:15.
Note: “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 Review and Herald, October 8, 1895.
- What watchfulness is needed? Jeremiah 17:9; Proverbs 14:12.
Note: “It is for the eternal interest of every one to search his own heart, and to improve every God-given faculty. Let all remember that there is not a motive in the heart of any man that the Lord does not clearly see. The motives of each one are weighed as carefully as if the destiny of the human agent depended upon this one result.” The Review and Herald, March 8, 1906.
2 SOME IMPORTANT—OTHERS NOT
- Of what types of small things should we cultivate keen discernment—and what other kinds are best ignored? Luke 6:41, 42.
Note: “It does not behoove those from whom Jesus has so much to bear, in their failings and perversity, to be ever mindful of slights and real or imaginary offense. And yet there are those who are ever suspecting the motives of others about them. They see offense and slights where no such thing was intended. All this is Satan’s work in the human heart. The heart filled with that love which thinketh no evil will not be on the watch to notice discourtesies and grievances of which he may be the object. The will of God is that His love shall close the eyes, the ears and the heart to all such provocations and to all the suggestions with which Satan would fill them.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1160.
“Some will be ready to ask, ‘How can I get out of the worries in which I find myself involved? How shall I ever be understood and appreciated? I have no confidence in this one’s religion or honesty, and that one has done me wrong.’ Be careful how you sin against your brethren by misjudging them, and speaking evil of them. God has not given you permission to climb upon the judgment-seat, and pronounce one good because he praises, pets, and favors you, and denounce another because he is not your particular friend. This selfish, narrow, bigoted spirit does harm to those with whom you associate. It is not the spirit of Christ, but of him who has been from the beginning the accuser of the brethren. Instead of misjudging others, examine your own conduct. Place the most favorable construction on the words and actions of others, and you will thus be exercising the mercy that is becoming to those who are the holy and beloved of God, members of the royal family. Seek the meekness of Christ. He suffered wrong, and did not attempt to avenge himself.” The Signs of the Times, October 22, 1885.
- From what small beginning is sin conceived? James 2:13–16; Proverbs 4:27.
3 TESTS OF OUR CHARACTER
- What factors concerning one’s reputation are often not fully understood? Proverbs 18:19; Ecclesiastes 7:1, 8.
Note: “We must give others an example of not stopping at every trifling offense in order to vindicate our rights. We may expect that false reports will circulate about us; but if we follow a straight course, if we remain indifferent to these things, others will also be indifferent. Let us leave to God the care of our reputation. And thus, like sons and daughters of God, we shall show that we have self-control. We shall show that we are led by the Spirit of God, and that we are slow to anger. Slander can be lived down by our manner of living; it is not lived down by words of indignation. Let our great anxiety be to act in the fear of God, and show by our conduct that these reports are false. No one can injure our character as much as ourselves. It is the weak trees and the tottering houses that need to be constantly propped. When we show ourselves so anxious to protect our reputation against attacks from the outside, we give the impression that it is not blameless before God, and that it needs therefore to be continually bolstered up.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1160, 1161.
- How does the Bible illustrate the importance of controlling our temper? Proverbs 25:28; 16:32.
Note: “There is a noble majesty in the silence of the one exposed to evil-surmising or outrage. To be master of one’s spirit is to be stronger than kings or conquerors. A Christian leads one to think of Christ. He will be affable, kind, patient, humble and yet courageous and firm in vindicating the truth and the name of Christ.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1160.
- How does God view dishonest trade? Proverbs 11:1; 16:11.
Note: “Fraud in any business transaction is a grievous sin in God’s sight.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1160.
“Our character building will be full of peril while we underrate the importance of the little things.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 356.
4 FAR-REACHING CONSEQUENCES
- What advice given through Solomon is applicable to the Laodicean condition? Proverbs 28:25, 26. How does it also encompass the apparently small matter of appetite?
Note: “Adam and Eve persuaded themselves that in so small a matter as eating of the forbidden fruit there could not result such terrible consequences as God had declared. But this small matter was the transgression of God’s immutable and holy law, and it separated man from God and opened the floodgates of death and untold woe upon our world.” Steps to Christ, 33.
- Explain one reason why God refrains from bringing more new souls to our midst. How can we remedy this situation? Luke 17:1, 2; I Corinthians 8:13.
Note: “Some have felt at liberty to criticize and question and find fault with health reform principles of which they knew little by experience. They should stand shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, with those who are working in right lines.
“The subject of health reform has been presented in the churches; but the light has not been heartily received. The selfish, health-destroying indulgences of men and women have counteracted the influence of the message that is to prepare a people for the great day of God. If the churches expect strength, they must live the truth which God has given them. If the members of our churches disregard the light on this subject, they will reap the sure result in both spiritual and physical degeneracy. And the influence of these older church members will leaven those newly come to the faith. The Lord does not now work to bring many souls into the truth, because of the church members who have never been converted and those who were once converted but who have backslidden. What influence would these unconsecrated members have on new converts? Would they not make of no effect the God-given message which His people are to bear?
“Let all examine their own practices to see if they are not indulging in that which is a positive injury to them. Let them dispense with every unhealthful gratification in eating and drinking.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 370, 371.
5 SMALL BUT BLESSED
- Upon what kinds of small gestures does heaven smile? Matthew 10:42. How do such things reveal our heart? Proverbs 4:23.
Note: “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.” The Review and Herald, October 8, 1895.
- How can we reflect Christ more often than we may think? Proverbs 19:22; 16:1.
Note: “Things will go wrong with every one; sadness and discouragement press every soul; then a personal presence, a friend who will comfort and impart strength, will turn back the darts of the enemy that are aimed to destroy. Christian friends are not half as plentiful as they should be. In hours of temptation, in a crisis, what a value is a true friend! Satan at such times sends along his agents to cause the trembling limbs to stumble; but the true friends who will counsel, who will impart magnetic hopefulness, the calming faith that uplifts the soul—oh, such help is worth more than precious pearls.” Sons and Daughters of God, 161.
Review and Thought Questions
1 How does God view the little and the lowly?
2 What is too often the real cause of church troubles?
3 In what ways might our character be tested?
4 How can our own habits hinder successful evangelism?
5 What kind of Christian would you like to see—and be?
Copyright © 2002 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.