“He (Christ) showed that our neighbor does not mean merely one of the church or faith to which we belong. It has no reference to race, color, or class distinction. Our neighbor is every person who needs our help. Our neighbor is every soul who is wounded and bruised by the adversary. Our neighbor is every one who is the property of God.”
“On the assurance of the love of God toward us, Jesus enjoins love to one another, in one comprehensive principle covering all the relations of human fellowship.
“The Jews had been concerned about what they should receive; the burden of their anxiety was to secure what they thought their due of power and respect and service. But Christ teaches that our anxiety should not be, How much are we to receive? but, How much can we give? The standard of our obligation to others is found in what we ourselves would regard as their obligation to us.
“In your association with others, put yourself in their place. Enter into their feelings, their difficulties, their disappointments, their joys, and their sorrows.
“Identify yourself with them, and then do to them as, were you to exchange places with them, you would wish them to deal with you. This is the true rule of honesty. It is another expression of the law. ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Matthew 22:39. And it is the substance of the teaching of the prophets. It is a principle of heaven, and will be developed in all who are fitted for its holy companionship.
“The golden rule is the principle of true courtesy, and its truest illustration is seen in the life and character of Jesus. Oh, what rays of softness and beauty shone forth in the daily life of our Saviour! What sweetness flowed from His very presence! The same spirit will be revealed in His children. Those with whom Christ dwells will be surrounded with a divine atmosphere. Their white robes of purity will be fragrant with perfume from the garden of the Lord. Their faces will reflect light from His, brightening the path for stumbling and weary feet.
“No man who has the true ideal of what constitutes a perfect character will fail to manifest the sympathy and tenderness of Christ. The influence of grace is to soften the heart, to refine and purify the feelings, giving a heaven-born delicacy and sense of propriety.
“But there is a yet deeper significance to the golden rule. Everyone who has been made a steward of the manifold grace of God is called upon to impart to souls in ignorance and darkness, even as, were he in their place, he would desire them to impart to him. The apostle Paul said, ‘I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.’ Romans 1:14. By all that you have known of the love of God, by all that you have received of the rich gifts of His grace above the most benighted and degraded soul upon the earth are you in debt to that soul to impart these gifts unto him.”
“Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. ‘Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?’ He answered, ‘What's written in God's Law? How do you interpret it?’ He said, ‘That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence--and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.’ ‘Good answer!’ said Jesus. ‘Do it and you'll live.’ Looking for a loophole, he asked, ‘And just how would you define "neighbor"’? Jesus answered by telling a story. ‘There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man. ‘A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man's condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, "Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill-—I'll pay you on my way back.” ‘What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?’ ‘The one who treated him kindly,’ the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, ‘Go and do the same.’”
“Pleasant, kind, and well-bred Christians will have an influence for God and His truth; it cannot be otherwise. The light borrowed from Heaven will shed its brightening rays through them to the pathway of others. . . . The words we speak, our daily deportment, are the fruit growing upon the tree. If the fruit is sour and unpalatable, the rootlets of that tree are not drawing nourishment from a pure source. If our affections are brought into harmony with our Savior, if our characters are meek and lowly, we evidence that our life is hid with Christ in God; and we shall leave behind us a bright track. . . . Beholders will discern that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him.”
ANDROCLES AND THE LION
A slave named Androcles once escaped from his master and fled to the forest. As he was wandering about, he came upon a lion lying down moaning and groaning. At first he turned to flee, but finding that the lion did not pursue him, he turned back and went up to him. As he came near, the lion put out his paw, which was all swollen and bleeding, and Androcles found that a huge thorn had gotten into it and was causing all the pain. He pulled out the thorn and bound up the paw of the lion, who was soon able to rise and lick the hand of Androcles like a dog.
Then the lion took Androcles to his cave, and every day brought him meat from which to live. But shortly afterward, both Androcles and the lion were captured, and the slave was sentenced to be thrown to the lion after the latter had been kept without food for several days.
The emperor and all his court came to see the spectacle, and Androcles was led out into the middle of the arena. Soon the lion was let loose from his den, and rushed bounding and roaring toward his victim. But as soon as he came near to Androcles, he recognized his friend, and fawned upon him, and licked his hands like a friendly dog. The emperor, surprised at this, summoned Androcles to him, who told him the whole story. Whereupon the slave was pardoned and freed, and the lion let loose to his native forest. Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
Just like Androcles, we have to listen through the pain, anger, and hurt that people present to us to hear their needs. Just as Androcles had to overcome his fear of the lion, we have to overcome our fear of people who are ‘worldly’ or different in order to understand what they need and take the gospel to them. Androcles never could have dreamed that his simple act of kindness would save his own life one day. We listen to non-believers not to save our own lives, but to save their lives for God’s kingdom. And the lives saved will be for life everlasting.
“‘Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,’ says the LORD”(Jeremiah 1:8, NKJV).
“Not all can go as missionaries to foreign lands, but all can be home missionaries in their families and neighborhoods. There are many ways in which church members may give the message to those around them. One of the most successful is by living helpful, unselfish Christian lives. Those who are fighting the battle of life at great odds may be refreshed and strengthened by little attentions which cost nothing. Kindly words simply spoken, little attentions simply bestowed will sweep away the clouds of temptation and doubt that gather over the soul. The true heart expression of Christlike sympathy, given in simplicity, has power to open the door of hearts that need the simple, delicate touch of the spirit of Christ.”
“Christians will be in this world ‘a holy nation, a peculiar people,’ showing forth the praises of Him who hath called them ‘out of darkness into his marvelous light.’ This light is not to grow dim, but to shine brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. . . . The thrilling truth that has been sounding in our ears for many years, ‘The Lord is at hand; be ye also ready,’ is no less the truth today than when we first heard the message.”
Priyanth has gone to Christian schools all his life. He doesn’t really know anyone who is not of his faith. Now he has to go to a public high school. He wants to share his faith, but he is afraid people will think he is weird. What advice would you give him?
Go to http://guidemagazine.org/rtf to post your answers. Your thoughts and feelings may seem clearer to you when you write them down, so we’ve provided space for you here as well. You may also wish to share them with your class later. Be up-front and honest.
“So also with the gifts and blessings of this life: whatever you may possess above your fellows places you in debt, to that degree, to all who are less favored. Have we wealth, or even the comforts of life, then we are under the most solemn obligation to care for the suffering sick, the widow, and the fatherless exactly as we would desire them to care for us were our condition and theirs to be reversed.
“The golden rule teaches, by implication, the same truth which is taught elsewhere in the Sermon on the Mount, that ‘with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.’ That which we do to others, whether it be good or evil, will surely react upon ourselves, in blessing or in cursing. Whatever we give, we shall receive again. The earthly blessings which we impart to others may be, and often are, repaid in kind. What we give does, in time of need, often come back to us in fourfold measure in the coin of the realm. But, besides this, all gifts are repaid, even in this life, in the fuller inflowing of His love, which is the sum of all heaven's glory and its treasure. And evil imparted also returns again. Everyone who has been free to condemn or discourage, will in his own experience be brought over the ground where he has caused others to pass; he will feel what they have suffered because of his want of sympathy and tenderness.
“It is the love of God toward us that has decreed this. He would lead us to abhor our own hardness of heart and to open our hearts to let Jesus abide in them. And thus, out of evil, good is brought, and what appeared a curse becomes a blessing.”
“Of the apostolic church, in those bright days when the glory of the risen Christ shone upon them, it is written that no man said ‘that aught of the things which he possessed was his own.’ ‘Neither was there any among them that lacked.’ ‘And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.’ ‘And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.’ Acts 4:32, 34, 33; 2:46, 47.
“Search heaven and earth, and there is no truth revealed more powerful than that which is made manifest in works of mercy to those who need our sympathy and aid. This is the truth as it is in Jesus. When those who profess the name of Christ shall practice the principles of the golden rule, the same power will attend the gospel as in apostolic times.
“‘Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life.’”
“Now, shall professed Christians refuse to associate with the unconverted, and seek to have no communication with them? No, they are to be with them, in the world and not of the world, but not to partake of their ways, not to be impressed by them, not to have a heart open to their customs and practices. Their associations are to be for the purpose of drawing others to Christ.”
“Christ has given ‘to every man his work’ (Mark 13:34). He expects every man to do his work with fidelity. High and low, rich and poor, all have a work to do for the Master. Every one is called to action. But if you do not obey the voice of the Lord, if you do not do His appointed work in firm reliance upon Christ as your sufficiency, if you do not follow His example, ‘unfaithful, slothful servant’ will be registered against your name. Unless the light which has been given you is communicated to others, unless you let your light shine, it will go out in darkness, and your soul will be left in awful peril. God speaks to every one who knows the truth, ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven’ (Matt. 5:16). Communicate the knowledge of the truth to others. This is God's plan to enlighten the world. If you do not stand in your allotted place, if you do not let your light shine, you will become enshrouded in darkness. God calls upon all the sons and daughters of the heavenly family to be fully equipped, so that at any period they can step into the ranks ready for action. The heart made tender and sympathetic by the love of Jesus will find the precious pearls designed for the casket of the Lord Jesus.”
“Jesus does not bid the Christian to strive to shine, but just to let his light shine in clear and distinct rays to the world. Do not blanket your light. Do not sinfully withhold your light. Do not let the mist and fog and malaria of the world put out your light. Do not hide it under a bed or under a bushel, but set it on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are in the house.... God bids you shine, penetrating the moral darkness of the world.
“Many do not know what is the matter with them. They want light and see no ray. They are calling for help and they hear no response. Shall doubt and unbelief be perpetuated because I do not gather the divine rays of light from Jesus Christ and let them shine forth to others?”
You may be wondering, what is the big deal about listening to non-Christians? If they want to know anything, they can get all the info they need from the Internet. True, they can get facts and figures, devotionals, and doctrines from a Christian Website. But they can’t get a listening heart, friendship, or a hug (at least not the three-dimensional kind) from cyberspace.
Though e-mail and the Web are great communication tools, living breathing human beings need to have face time and ear time and eye time with one another. It doesn’t have to be anything heavy at first. Try playing soccer or volleyball at the local park where most kids hang out. Do your homework at the public library. Volunteer in a community organization. Join—or start—a club.
The important thing is to be where people are so you can get used to the sounds of their voices and tap into the unspoken desires of their hearts. Then you can introduce them to the Author of those desires that He alone can fulfill.
Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 38, 39
“When love fills the heart, it will flow out to others, not because of favors received from them, but because love is the principle of action. Love modifies the character, governs the impulses, subdues enmity, and ennobles the affections. This love is as broad as the universe, and is in harmony with that of the angel workers. Cherished in the heart, it sweetens the entire life and sheds its blessing upon all around. It is this, and this only, that can make us the salt of the earth.
"‘Ye are the light of the world.’
“As Jesus taught the people, He made His lessons interesting and held the attention of His hearers by frequent illustrations from the scenes of nature about them. The people had come together while it was yet morning. The glorious sun, climbing higher and higher in the blue sky, was chasing away the shadows that lurked in the valleys and among the narrow defiles of the mountains. The glory of the eastern heavens had not yet faded out. The sunlight flooded the land with its splendor; the placid surface of the lake reflected the golden light and mirrored the rosy clouds of morning. Every bud and flower and leafy spray glistened with dewdrops. Nature smiled under the benediction of a new day, and the birds sang sweetly among the trees. The Saviour looked upon the company before Him, and then to the rising sun, and said to His disciples, ‘Ye are the light of the world.’ As the sun goes forth on its errand of love, dispelling the shades of night and awakening the world to life, so the followers of Christ are to go forth on their mission, diffusing the light of heaven upon those who are in the darkness of error and sin.
“In the brilliant light of the morning, the towns and villages upon the surrounding hills stood forth clearly, making an attractive feature of the scene. Pointing to them, Jesus said, ‘A city set on a hill cannot be hid.’ And he added, ‘Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house.’ R.V. Most of those who listened to the words of Jesus were peasants and fishermen whose lowly dwellings contained but one room, in which the single lamp on its stand shone to all in the house. Even so, said Jesus, ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’
“No other light ever has shone or ever will shine upon fallen man save that which emanates from Christ. Jesus, the Saviour, is the only light that can illuminate the darkness of a world lying in sin. Of Christ it is written, ‘In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.’ John 1:4. It was by receiving of His life that His disciples could become light bearers. The life of Christ in the soul, His love revealed in the character, would make them the light of the world.”
“Christ does not say to us, ‘Strive to shine.’ He says, ‘Let you light shine.’ He in whose heart Christ abides cannot help shining. ‘Let your light shine.’ Do not allow your light to be dimmed by selfishness or unrighteous actions. Never gather clouds about you; for this means concealment of your light. Do not dim it by speaking words of harshness or anger. Let the light shine forth brightly to those within and without the home. Gather rays of light from Him who is the Light of the world, and shine more and more brightly. Let your lamp be always trimmed and burning.”
Match the following texts from the New International Version of the Bible with the phrases that correspond to them.
A. James 1:19, 20
B. Matthew 5:13-16
C. 1 Corinthians 9:19-22
D. Acts 13:47
E. Romans 1:14-16
Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 40, 41
“Humanity has in itself no light. Apart from Christ we are like an unkindled taper, like the moon when her face is turned away from the sun; we have not a single ray of brightness to shed into the darkness of the world. But when we turn toward the Sun of Righteousness, when we come in touch with Christ, the whole soul is aglow with the brightness of the divine presence.
“Christ's followers are to be more than a light in the midst of men. They are the light of the world. Jesus says to all who have named His name, You have given yourselves to Me, and I have given you to the world as My representatives. As the Father had sent Him into the world, so, He declares, ‘have I also sent them into the world.’ John 17:18. As Christ is the channel for the revelation of the Father, so we are to be the channel for the revelation of Christ. While our Saviour is the great source of illumination, forget not, O Christian, that He is revealed through humanity. God's blessings are bestowed through human instrumentality. Christ Himself came to the world as the Son of man. Humanity, united to the divine nature, must touch humanity. The church of Christ, every individual disciple of the Master, is heaven's appointed channel for the revelation of God to men. Angels of glory wait to communicate through you heaven's light and power to souls that are ready to perish. Shall the human agent fail of accomplishing his appointed work? Oh, then to that degree is the world robbed of the promised influence of the Holy Spirit!”
“But Jesus did not bid the disciples, ‘Strive to make your light shine;’ He said, ‘Let it shine.’ If Christ is dwelling in the heart, it is impossible to conceal the light of His presence. If those who profess to be followers of Christ are not the light of the world, it is because the vital power has left them; if they have no light to give, it is because they have no connection with the Source of light.
“In all ages the ‘Spirit of Christ which was in them’ (1 Peter 1:11) has made God's true children the light of the people of their generation. Joseph was a light bearer in Egypt. In his purity and benevolence and filial love he represented Christ in the midst of a nation of idolaters. While the Israelites were on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land, the true-hearted among them were a light to the surrounding nations. Through them God was revealed to the world. From Daniel and his companions in Babylon, and from Mordecai in Persia, bright beams of light shone out amid the darkness of the kingly courts. In like manner the disciples of Christ are set as light bearers on the way to heaven; through them the Father's mercy and goodness are made manifest to a world enshrouded in the darkness of misapprehension of God. By seeing their good works, others are led to glorify the Father who is above; for it is made manifest that there is a God on the throne of the universe whose character is worthy of praise and imitation. The divine love glowing in the heart, the Christlike harmony manifested in the life, are as a glimpse of heaven granted to men of the world, that they may appreciate its excellence.”
“God does not select angels who have never fallen, but fallen man who has felt the redeeming power of the grace of Christ sanctifying his own life, and the bright beams of truth warming his own heart. As they have been in peril themselves, they are acquainted with the dangers and difficulties of others, and the way to reach others in like peril” (Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, January 8, 1880).
In a few more years, you will be in high school and then off to college. You will probably take a course in effective listening. This will enable you to take better notes during class and to retain lots of information for tests.
The wonderful thing is that these skills translate into other areas, such as relationships. The skills gained may have eternal consequences for the people that you meet as well.
To paraphrase a Bible verse: unless we become good listeners by God’s grace, neither we nor those who don’t know about or believe in God will ever enter the kingdom of heaven.
“Take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
“Jesus does not say to the Christian, strive to shine; but, ‘Let your light so shine before men [for it is God's gift], that they may see your good works.’ Never shut in the light God has given you, by mist and darkness caused by ill-advised words, an impatient spirit, murmuring, or complaining. Wherever you are, let your light shine in clear rays. Do not hide your light under a bushel. You need not make extra exertions to shine, for light from the throne of God will shine” (Ellen G. White, The Gospel of Health, September 1, 1898).
For one two-hour period today, when you know you will be around a lot of people, make an attempt to clarify everything that another person says by mirroring his or her actions and paraphrasing what he or she says. Note the outcomes—his or her nonverbal reaction, how you felt, what her or she said. Be prepared to share them in class on Sabbath.
“Today when I talked with Juanita, she was sad about her pet dying. I made a sad face when she made one. I told her I knew that it was hard to lose a pet. She cried a little bit (I didn’t cry, though), thanked me for taking the time to talk with her, and smiled. I felt good that she seemed to feel better about it.”
“Manny was pumped about winning the geography bee. At first I wasn’t going to say anything because so many people were around him. I gave him a high-five and asked him how he did it. His eyes lit up when I asked him that. He told me how his uncle made map flash cards for him to study with during the day and how he drilled him at night. I kept nodding my head and asking questions, and he kept talking. I even asked to see the cards. The more interested I acted, the more he talked. I thought I would never get away. I learned a lot, though.”
Following is a list of Bible Characters. Beside each one’s name, tell who he or she listened to, or who listened to him or her. Also, tell how this “listener” was a witness.