Last night I seemed to be in an assembly of men who had been entrusted with large and important responsibilities. There were ministers present, and all seemed to be filled with apprehension for the future. After prayer had been offered, the cases of canvassers who had been appropriating means from the treasury instead of bringing means into it, were considered with much sorrow, and some counsel was offered as to the best way of dealing with those who were proving unfaithful to their trust.
When other grave matters had been presented, I arose and said, For a long time I have been pressed under the burden of the fact that we are not elevating the standard as we should. New fields are continually opening, and the third angel’s message must be proclaimed to all kindreds, nations, tongues, and peoples.
We must not feel that we are compelled to hover over churches who have received the truth. We are not to spend our time doing detail work, but are to educate others, teaching them how to labor in right lines. We must not encourage the people to depend on ministerial help and labor to preserve spiritual life. Everyone who has received the truth must go to God for his individual self, and decide to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, and do true service for God. Those who have embraced the third angel’s message must not make man their trust, depending upon the ministers to make their experience for them. They are to secure an individual experience by looking to God for themselves.
Have Root in Yourselves
Let the people of God have root in themselves, because they are planted in Jesus Christ. There must be no strife for supremacy. Let everyone seek God for himself, and know for himself that the truth of God is the sanctifier of soul, life, and character. Service to God is an individual responsibility. Let all feel that it is their duty and privilege to bear their testimony in the church, speaking of those things which will edify. No one should try to sermonize. No one should speak in a way that savors in the least of self-exaltation, or raise questions that will cause dissension. Let each one present lessons from the life of Christ, and reveal none of self but all of Jesus.
Let ministers and responsible men impress the individual members of the church that in order to grow in spirituality they must take the burden of the work which the Lord has laid upon them—the burden of leading souls into the truth. Let them teach the people that they should have a strong desire to see those not in the faith converted to the truth. Let those who have opportunity do their God-given work. Those who are not fulfilling their responsibility should be visited, prayed with, and labored for, that they may become faithful stewards of the grace of Christ. Do not lead the people to depend upon you as ministers, but teach every one who shall embrace the truth that he has a work to do in using the talents God has given him to save the souls of those who are nigh him. In thus working, the people will have the co-operation of the angels of God. They will obtain a valuable experience which will increase their faith and give them a strong hold of God.
Pray for the Laborers
Let everyone do all in his power to help both by his means and by his prayers to carry the burden for the souls for whom the ministers are laboring. Earnest prayer sent up to God for His blessing upon the laborers in the field will follow the laborers as sharp sickles into the harvest field. When the people thus pray for the work, they will not be selfish. They will seek to answer their own prayers by corresponding works. They will not hold the minister preaching to them, but will say to him, Go and carry the truth so precious to us to those who are in error, and our prayers will go with you. This will be a valuable experience to every member of the church.
In Humanity and Weakness
The messengers God sends to the people must not permit the people to attach themselves to them. They must ever keep Jesus Christ before their congregations as the One in whom all their hopes of eternal life are centered.
In every messenger whom the Lord uses there must be humility, meekness, and lowliness of mind. . . . Self must not seek for recognition. There should be no striving to be first. Self must be hid with Christ in God. Self must die, and Christ must live in the soul.
Call for Action
The laborers must learn to bear a firm, decided testimony, in humility of mind. The truth [must be] unadulterated with cheap matters which are never a help, but always a hindrance to the truth. Carry the people upward and forward positively, step by step, from strength to strength, to the firm foundation of sound Bible doctrine. The laborers should have an intense interest in their work, and as they advance, call for decided action. While the spirit of conviction rests upon the hearts of the people, fasten upon their minds the importance of deciding for and living out the truth. While they are obtaining gems of truth, lead them out to give practical expression to their faith and their gratitude for every ray of light. Let them see that the truth is a living reality to those who are holding forth the words of life. Impress upon them the importance of walking in the light that shines upon them from the Word of God.
The workers in the cause of God are to hold themselves continually under the bright rays of the Sun of Righteousness. They are to pray much, opening their hearts to receive the Holy Spirit into the life and character. Then they will manifest His holy influence in their life practice. They are not to feel that it is their prerogative to work the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is to work them, mold them out of self, away from hereditary and cultivated tendencies, and fashion them into the image of Christ’s mind and ways. The workers must present with long patience, line upon line, precept upon precept, the duty of the people to be earnest workers.
Religion in the Home
They are to point out the duty of parents to teach their little ones the truth as it is in Jesus, that in their simplicity the children may present to their associates that which they have learned. . . . The home is to be an educating school where parents are to do their work in perfecting the characters of their children. But parents are asleep. Their children are going to destruction before their eyes, and the Lord would have His messengers present before the people the necessity of home religion. Urge this matter home upon your congregation. Press the conviction of these solemn duties, so long neglected, upon the conscience. This will break up the spirit of Pharisaism and resistance to the truth as nothing else can. Religion in the home is our great hope, and makes the prospect bright for the conversion of the whole family to the truth of God.
Will not our ministers wrestle in earnest prayer for the holy unction, that they may not bring unimportant, unessential things into their labor at this important time? Let them not bring into their ministerial labors only that which can be heard in any of the denominational churches. Let them ever keep an uplifted Saviour before their hearers, in order to prevent their converts from attaching themselves to the man, to bear his mold, and copy his ways in their manner of conversation and conduct.
Workers in Many Lines to Blend
The Lord has a variety of workers who must impress the people in various lines. One man’s mind and one man’s manner or ways are not to be regarded as perfect, to be imitated exclusively. Christ is our model.
This Scripture is to be understood: “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” These different workers are each to do a special work; but are they to separate themselves from their fellow laborers, confining their labors to a few whom they think they have succeeded in bringing to a knowledge of the truth? Shall one say to another of the instrumentalities of God, Leave these souls to me to work with, and to bring to perfection of the faith? Let me work for them and train and educate them to perfection of faith and character?
No, this is not the way the Lord works. The one who thus thinks and thus acts is himself deficient in character. He has some strong points, and can work in certain lines; but in other lines he is weak. Other human agencies are needed whom the Holy Spirit shall guide to act their part in completing the work. No man is complete in or through any other man. It is not any one man’s gift that accomplishes the work essential. It is the Holy Spirit that works the man. Human agents of diverse gifts are needed.
By the Power of the Spirit
One man cannot carry through any work and make it complete himself, unless no other worker is available; then the Holy Spirit supplies the deficiencies of the worker. But because a measure of success attends his labors, let him not suppose that it is his methods and capabilities which have done the work; for this idea will often bring defeat. Let not men flatter themselves and take to themselves the credit of doing wonderful things; for they are weak and feeble in doing even their best. The Holy Spirit is the worker, and if the human instrument is a close student of his Bible, seeking to know the light and to walk in it, thus learning daily of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will use him as a means of communicating the Word while the Holy Spirit Himself works the heart.
All those who hold forth the Word of Life, whether they be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers, have a part to act in the work of the perfection of the saints, wherever they may be. They are all to work together harmoniously.
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:12–16.
Begin at the Heart
To every man is given his work. One man may not be able to do the work for which another man has been trained and educated. But the work of every man must begin at the heart, not resting in a theory of the truth. The work of him who surrenders the soul to God and co-operates with divine agencies will reveal an able, wise workman, who discerns how to adapt himself to the situation. The root must be holy, or there will be no holy fruit. All are to be workers together with God. Self must not become prominent. The Lord has entrusted talents and capabilities to every individual, and those who are most highly favored with opportunities and privileges to hear the Spirit’s voice are under the heaviest responsibility to God.
Those who are represented as having but one talent have also their work to do. By trading, not with pounds, but with pence, they are diligently to employ their ability, determined not to fail or be discouraged. They are to ask in faith, and depend upon the Holy Spirit to work upon unbelieving hearts. If they depend upon their own capabilities, they will fail. Those who faithfully trade upon the one talent will hear the gracious commendations spoken to them with as much heartiness as to those who have been gifted with many talents, and who have wisely improved them, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” [Matthew 25:21.]
It is the spirit of humility in which the work is done which God regards. He who had but one talent had an influence to exert, and his work was needed. In perfecting his own character, in learning in the school of Christ, he was exerting an influence that helped to perfect the character of those who had larger responsibilities, who were in danger of building themselves up, and of neglecting some important little things, which that faithful man with his one talent was regarding with diligent care. . . .
God Honors the Humble Worker
There should be no murmuring or complaining among the workers, when one who moves in a humble position is appointed to work with them, who are looked upon as more capable. They may suppose this humble worker incapable of co-operating with them; but in this they may be greatly in error. It is essential that they learn the lesson of humility and contrition, and become capable of blending in unity with any of God’s workers, doing their best under all circumstances, believing that God alone can water the seed sown. In thus doing they will double their influence; for when duty is done with fidelity, and faithful diligence is manifested by the worker, it is evident that he bears the test and pruning of God; and the Lord requires nothing more. That man who thinks himself least the Holy Spirit assists most.—Manuscript 21, 1894. Notebook Leaflets from the Elmshaven Library, vol. 1, 127–130.
Unity of Action Essential
Unity of action is essential in the Lord’s work. His followers are to be of one heart and one mind, speaking the same thing. But not all have the same talents or the same office. “There is a variety of gifts.” Christ gives different men different abilities, to be used in different lines of work. Some are specially fitted to carry on one line of work, while others are adapted for another line. Some will labor in one way, and some in another. Some will preach the Word, others will use their ability in writing and translating books. Still others will give themselves to the work of circulating the books containing the message of present truth.
It is by the Lord’s appointment that men of varied minds are brought into the church, to be laborers together with Him. His servants have many different minds to meet, and different gifts are needed. The apostle John was different from the apostle Peter. Each had his own work. Each was to subdue his peculiarities, that he might be a help to the other.
Is Christ divided?—No. Christ abiding in a soul will not quarrel with Christ in another soul. If we are at variance with those around us, we may know that it is because self has not been crucified. He whom Christ makes free is free indeed. And we are not free unless we love one another as Christ has loved us. Our characters must be molded in harmony with Christ’s character; our wills must be surrendered to His will. Then we shall sit together in heavenly places with Him. Then we shall work together, without a thought of collision.
Little differences, dwelt upon, lead to actions that destroy Christian fellowship. Let us not allow the enemy thus to gain the advantage over us. Let us keep drawing nearer to God and to one another. Then we shall be as trees of righteousness, planted by the Lord, and watered with the river of life. And how fruitful we shall be! Did not Christ say, “Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit”? [John 15:8.]
The prayer that Christ offered for His disciples just before His crucifixion reveals God’s purpose concerning us. The heart of the Saviour is set upon His followers fulfilling God’s purpose, in all its height and depth. They are to be one in Him, even though they are scattered the world over. But God can not make them one with Christ and with one another unless they are willing to give up their way for His way.
Harmony and union existing among men of varied dispositions is the strongest witness that can be borne that God has sent His Son into the world to save sinners. It is our privilege to bear this witness. But in order to do this, we must place ourselves under Christ’s command. The tender regard shown by the Saviour for His church calls upon us to keep our souls in His love. Each one has something to do. Let us strive earnestly and untiringly to fulfill God’s purpose for us “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God,” unto perfect men and women, “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” [Ephesians 4:13.] Pacific Union Recorder, March 26, 1903.
[All emphasis supplied.]
Ellen G. White (1827–1915) wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books during her lifetime. Today, including compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English. She is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Mrs. White was appointed by God as a special messenger to draw the world’s attention to the Holy Scriptures and help prepare people for Christ’s second advent.