I. IMPORTANCE OF LEARNING TO LIVE.
1. Learning to live with people means that we must first learn to live with ourselves. Learning to live with ourselves is not the particular theme of our study to night. Since we have previously dis cussed this topic, let us study some additional thoughts that will add to its importance.
2. Learning to live with ourselves calls for an ideal setup in the soul. We have that ideal in the character of Jesus. "God's ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. . . . The ideal of Christian character is Christ- likeness." The Desire of Ages, p. 311.
3. Studying our ideal, we will be changed in spite of ourselves, for God has set in operation a law that by beholding we are changed. 2 Cor. 3:18.
4. We are admonished not to take our eyes from Jesus lest we become discouraged. Heb. 12:1-3.Remember the days of the old copybook, when the pattern of good penmanship was placed before the pupil.
II. PRIME FACTORS TO BE RECOGNIZED IN HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS.
1. No two people are exactly alike. They never have been and never will be. "Every individual has a life distinct from all others, and an experience differing essentially from theirs. God desires that our praise shall ascend to Him, marked by our own individuality." Ibid., p. 347.
2. Only God knows the character of an individual. Jer. 17:9, 10.
3. No one has the right of absolute control over the minds of others. God invites us to the higher way of life by setting before us the precious power of choice. Only Satan seeks to control and compel. (See Ministry of Healing, pp. 242, 243.)
4. We must ever remember that no one is yet perfect. All are invited to become so through Christ. Even in the most hope less He recognizes a candidate for heaven.
5. We live for others. "No man can be independent of his fellow- men; for the well-being of each affects others. It is God's purpose that each shall feel himself necessary to others' welfare, and seek to promote their happiness. ... By the atmosphere surrounding us, every person with whom we come in contact is consciously or unconsciously affected." Christ's Object Lessons, p. 339.
III. TYPES WE MUST LIVE WITH IN THE CHURCH.
We have noticed briefly some prime factors in knowing people. Let us now go into further detail to seek a fuller understanding of human nature. As Christians we have great advantage, for- we know how God anciently dealt with the twelve tribes of Israel. We may not be able to distinguish them clearly, but we cannot help being intrigued in our study as we recognize that in every group God is perfecting citizens for the nations of the redeemed. The recognition that there are twelve tribes with varied characteristics should make us more tolerant, understanding, and interested in individuals who may be quite different from ourselves.
Lessons From the Study of These Twelve Tribes.
Genesis 49 Jacob's prophecy; Deuteronomy 33 Moses' prophecy; Rev. 7:1-8. (To provide background for a study of these tribes, we may refer to The Cross and Its Shadow, by S. N. Haskell, and Brothers of the King, by A. W. Spalding.)
1. Reuben: Excellency of dignity, power, and strength. Gen. 49:3, 4. Character: Covetous, selfish, not to be depended upon "unstable as water" easily influenced. Consented to sell Joseph no confidence in word or promises. Here is strength, but also instability.
2. Simeon: Uncontrolled anger, resentful, and revengeful. "Instruments of cruelty in their habitations." "Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel." Verses 5-7. That they might do less harm, God scattered them throughout Jacob and Israel. Verse 7. When? Now? There will be a nation of overcomers. We may be privileged to help some Simeonites.
3. Levi: Younger than Simeon, yet they were pals. Verses 5-7. Later learned lessons of self-control and trust, and in the crisis at Sinai stood true to God. This gave prestige to the Levites. Barnabas and Mark of this tribe also.
4. Judah: Strong, quiet leader. In lineage of Messiah. Matthew 1. Jesus, the lion of the tribe of Judah. Rev. 5:5. Note the prophecy. Gen. 49:8, 9. Praised because strong and courageous as a lion. Reuben failed in his home life. Judah there prevailed. The characteristic that invites trust and compels followers. Verse 10.
5. Dan: The lost tribe. Verses 16, 17. Not in Revelation 7. Do not listen to gossip. (Education, pp. 235, 236.) How to handle this problem:
a. "Before you tell me, let's pray."
b. "Let's go to him and talk it over."
c. Some things must be discussed. Ask first:
(1) Is it constructive and helpful?
(2) Is it because of curiosity?
(3) Proper steps. Matt. 18:15-20.
6. Naphtali: Spreader of cheer. Deut. 33:23. Swift runners "hind let loose"; happy; "goodly words." Gen. 49:21. Nathanael. "No guile." John 1:47. We find them in every company.
7. Gad: Warlike, restless, fighters, back sliders. Gen. 49:19. Prayer prevailed. 1 Chron. 5:18-20. Elijah of this tribe.
8. Asher: The prosperous. Gen. 49:20. "Dip his foot in oil." Deut. 33:24. Shoes of "iron and brass." Verse 25. Shod with the gospel of peace. Eph. 6:35. Oil a symbol of Holy Spirit. Acts 10:38. Wherever they go their influence is felt.
9. Issachar: Ninth son of Jacob by Leah. Quiet, tended to duties, carried the extra burdens. Double load. Gen. 49:14, 15. Men of vision. "Had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do." 1 Chron. 12:32.
10. Zebulun: Literary and artistic. Judges 5:14. Not greedy. "They were not of double heart." 1 Chron. 12:33.
11. Joseph: Truly consecrated, constant under all tests, forgiving, kind, a trusted leader. Gen. 49:22-26.
12. Benjamin. The prophecy suggests a willful, spoiled child. Verse 27. Judges 20:16 gives an interesting record of the tribe. Deut. 33:12 gives another picture. Samuel lived at Ramah, in the borders of Benjamin. Paul was of this tribe.
IV. LEARNING How TO LIVE SUCCESSFULLY.
1. Isa. 11:1-5. A prophecy of the Master as He lived and walked among men. "In the heart of Christ, where reigned perfect harmony with God, there was perfect peace. He was never elated by applause, nor dejected by censure or disappointment. Amid the greatest opposition and the most cruel treatment, He was still of good courage." The Desire of Ages, p. 330. "Jesus revealed no qualities, and exercised no powers, that men may not have through faith in Him. His perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was." Ibid., p. 664.
2. Our responsibilities and possibilities. "Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God." Christ's Object Lessons, p. 327."He who loves Christ the most, will do the greatest amount of good. There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, by putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God." The Desire of Ages, p. 250.
V. TYPES WE MEET IN EVANGELISM.
1. Those who "enjoy poor health."
a. Learn to recognize their bid for attention. Many really are ill.
b. Plan not to let them usurp time that belongs to others, but guard against letting them feel neglected.
c. Never refer to their illness. Talk faith and cheer. Make very short visits. Tell of happy events. Leave literature easily read, a few flowers small gifts mean much to this class. Ask them to pray for someone who is really ill.
2. Those who are easily offended.
a. This is a sign of an immature Christian.
b. Those who pout and sulk and those who become distant and cold.
c. Prayer bands; teach them to be heartily interested in helping others. Patient, kind treatment when the affliction is acute.
3. Those who are forever telling you what to do and how and when to do it.
a. This too is a bid for attention and calls for much patience. The patience of Jesus with Peter. Luke 22:32.
b. You can afford to keep sweet, smile, and listen. But keep them busy, and do not spare the word of appreciation and "thank you."
4. Those who "have no talents" and so "cannot help."
a. Carefully arouse No. 3 group to interest themselves in these.
b. Ask them to call on some who are ill, to study the Sabbath school lesson with some shut-in.
c. Hold out companionship in Dorcas groups, et cetera.
"If we surrender our lives to His service, we can never be placed in a position for which God has not made provision. Whatever may be our situation, we have a Guide to direct our way; whatever our perplexities, we have a sure Counselor." Christ's Object Lessons, p. 173.
The ability to get along with others is a great blessing. The Christian is tested on this point in his church relationships. If we remember that God planned for us to help one another in developing a consistent character, we will understand why there is such a variety of temperament. Man does not live for himself. All nature would teach him the lessons of cooperation with others who may not naturally be drawn together. Christians have a mission to lead the unsaved to Christ. Like Jesus, we develop a love for even those who are unlovable. We owe all men a revelation of Jesus in our lives. Our interest should be to overcome selfish tendencies and live for others.
The minister's wife as the companion of God's representative must seek by Christ's help to develop a well-poised personality. Her mission is to minister to those who need her services.
(Continued next month)