Consideration for the Lowly Ones
Who are the lowly ones? How may consideration be shown them?
LOFTY things seize man’s attention and make a deep impression on his mind. For this reason he has selected high places for the statues of his heroes and gods. For his rulers he has erected thrones. Man is impressed with the lofty, but God is drawn to the lowly ones; “the lofty one he knows only from a distance.” (Ps. 138:6) Jesus Christ said: “What is lofty among men is a disgusting thing in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15) Therefore, the Scriptures wisely admonish: “Better is it to be lowly in spirit with the meek ones than to divide spoil with the self-exalted ones.” “Do not be minding lofty things, but be led along with the lowly things.”—Prov. 16:19; Rom. 12:16.
By showing consideration for the lowly, God our Maker has set an example for us, and it will result in genuine happiness to us if we imitate him. His reason for residing with the crushed and lowly in spirit is to “revive the spirit of the lowly ones and to revive the heart of the ones being crushed.” (Isa. 57:15) His consideration is an open concern over their welfare. And this should be our reason for considering lowly ones.
God has been magnanimous in the support of the lowly. He supplies them with his revitalizing spirit and strengthens their hearts with the unfailing promises of his Word. He has ransomed them with the precious lifeblood of his only-begotten Son, thus opening a way for them to gain everlasting life. Such consideration recommends itself to us.—1 John 4:7-16.
Who are these lowly ones? These are not necessarily the poor of the world, for not all the world’s poor are lowly. Often the worldly poor are quite smug and haughty creatures. The lowly one worthy of heavenly consideration God himself identifies, saying: “To this one, then, I shall look, to the one afflicted and contrite in spirit and trembling at my word.” (Isa. 66:2) Such lowliness, therefore, has no reference to being inferior. It has to do with one’s awareness of his littleness before God. The lowly one is the man who knows Jehovah God and trembles at his Word.
Thus true lowliness is seen to spring from a number of things. First, it has its roots in gratitude. One who is acquainted with the majesty of God wonders why God should even consider him. “What is mortal man that you keep him in mind, and the son of earthling man that you take care of him?” (Ps. 8:4) A thinking person is humbled by God’s condescension. Lowliness also finds its roots embedded in reverence. How can a sinful man presume to approach the Creator himself? Yet God has made this possible. Aware of his inherent failure, he stands contrite before his Maker. Lowliness also arises from knowledge of the forgiveness of one’s sins. The lowly acknowledge their sins with childlike simplicity, and with joy and hope accept the free forgiveness extended. It is from God’s Word the Bible that they learn of God’s forgiveness. They tremble at the thought of Jehovah’s love and generosity. For what more can a dying man ask than to be pardoned of his sins? True knowledge of God compels him to be modest, meek and lowly. It is such lowliness that pleases God, for it reveals man for what he truly is—a creature completely dependent on his Creator.
No doubt, the supreme example of lowliness among men was the man Jesus Christ. He was God’s Son, yet he stooped down and washed the feet of his disciples. (John 13:1-17) Jesus was lowly in that he was not ashamed to do a slave’s work. He was lowly because he appreciated his relationship with his Father Jehovah. At one time he said: “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing.” (John 5:19, 30) On another occasion, when he invited people to come to him, Jesus said of himself: “Come to me, . . . for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls.” (Matt. 11:28, 29) From Jesus’ example we learn that real lowliness toward one another rests ultimately upon our being lowly before God.
As Jehovah does not spurn lowly ones, neither did Jesus, nor should we. Sinners are drawn to God in prayer, because he is approachable and because he is available. He who runs the universe is not too busy for the lowliest. In their prayers they pour out their hearts to him, and he listens. His almightiness and wisdom do not frighten them, for God does not abuse his power or parade before them his intellect. They rest comfortably in the warmth of his love. (Isa. 55:8, 9) Jesus imitated this wonderful example of his Father. Though he was perfect, lowly people never felt that Jesus was too far above them, nor were they fearful of his power. In fact, people brought their children to him, so that he would bless them. (Mark 10:13-16) Despised persons, prostitutes, tax collectors, the handicapped and the diseased flocked to him. He had time for them. When people objected to his associating with such ones, Jesus replied: “Go, then, and learn what this means, ‘I want mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came to call, not righteous people, but sinners.” (Matt. 9:13) We all do well to contemplate the meaning of those words and the example set. Do sinners come to you for help? Do they search you out for comfort? It is a good rule for judging the extent of one’s own lowliness.
Jesus’ apostle Paul showed that God did not favor lofty ones to represent him in the earth. “Not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth,” wrote Paul. But God chose the foolish things, the weak things, “the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, . . . in order that no flesh might boast in the sight of God.” (1 Cor. 1:26-31) Understandably, then, many of these chosen lowly ones would be persons with questionable backgrounds, little or no education and whose personalities might be far from cultured. Yet God has chosen them and showered them with his sacred secrets of truth and life.
There was Zacchaeus. He was a small man who climbed a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus. In the community he was considered a terrible sinner. Jesus come to his home? Unthinkable! He was unworthy of so great an honor. But what did Jesus do? He invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house. The account says: “With rejoicing [Zacchaeus] received him as guest.” So moved was Zacchaeus with Jesus’ visit that he stood up and said: “‘Look! The half of my belongings, Lord, I am giving to the poor, and whatever I extorted from anyone by false accusation I am restoring fourfold.’ At this Jesus said to him: ‘This day salvation has come to this house . . . For the Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost.’” (Luke 19:1-10) How thrilled Zacchaeus was because Jesus took the initiative! Oftentimes, it remains for the strong to make the first step. Lowly ones feel themselves too unworthy to invite prominent personages into their homes, but they would feel eternally grateful if these would invite themselves. Such visits are unforgettable blessings and an encouragement to the lowly ones.
SOME DESERVE SPECIAL ATTENTION
Some lowly ones have a tendency to withdraw. They become introverted. Often these lead capsuled lives. They need help. A lowly widow of Zarephath was visited by the prophet Elijah. (1 Ki. 17:8-24) His visit proved a blessing to her. Widows and widowers often slip into lonely lives. A visit would help to change this.
In old age the mind often takes off and the imagination goes wild. Older people feel themselves left behind. Youth can show them consideration by including them in some of their affairs. Nothing is quite so stimulating as an unexpected knock, a youthful visitor. By showing older persons a little thoughtfulness, you can help them to feel like new assets rather than old liabilities.—Matt. 15:4-6; Ex. 20:12.
Set yourself a simple but organized program for improving your relationship with the physically handicapped, with persons who have little of this world’s goods or who may have personality problems. What can you do? Make scheduled dates and appointments with such persons to visit them. When having a special dinner, the tendency is to entertain prominent guests. Why not invite lowly ones over too who may enjoy such association? Those in high stations of life are constantly feasted and showered with gifts. Here is what Jesus said: “When you spread a dinner or evening meal, do not call your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors. . . . But when you spread a feast, invite poor people, crippled, lame, blind; and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous ones.” (Luke 14:12-14) Give this thoughtful consideration the next time you prepare a feast.
These lowly ones are generally aware of their weaknesses. No doubt they have been reminded of them dozens of times. So their need is encouragement, consideration, love. They know they need to be better mixers, freer in conversation, but with some this takes time. What you can do is love them and let them love you and your family. You can help them to be doers of things through encouragement, inviting them to work with you at Christian assemblies or in the ministry. You can help them to keep in touch with other people by visiting them, by bringing someone along with you.
None of this effort is wasted. The Bible says: “Happy is anyone acting with consideration toward the lowly one; in the day of calamity Jehovah will provide escape for him.” (Ps. 41:1) Happiness is sure to come, and this is no small reward. These lowly ones are sure to remember you in their prayers, which in itself is an unspeakable blessing. But in addition to all of this, Jehovah promises protection to those who show consideration to his lowly ones. What other effort could be more worth while?