It pains me to say that there are unruly tongues among church members. There are false tongues that feed on mischief. There are sly, whispering tongues. There is tattling, impertinent meddling, adroit quizzing. Among the lovers of gossip some are actuated by curiosity, others by jealousy, many by hatred against those through whom God has spoken to reprove them. All these discordant elements are at work. Some conceal their real sentiments, while others are eager to publish all they know, or even suspect, of evil against another.
I saw that the very spirit of perjury, that would turn truth into falsehood, good into evil, and innocence into crime, is now active. Satan exults over the condition of God’s professed people. While many are neglecting their own souls, they eagerly watch for an opportunity to criticize and condemn others. All have defects of character, and it is not hard to find something that jealousy can interpret to their injury. “Now,” say these self-constituted judges, “we have facts. We will fasten upon them an accusation from which they can not clear themselves.” They wait for a fitting opportunity and then produce their bundle of gossip and bring forth their tidbits.
In their efforts to carry a point, persons who have naturally a strong imagination are in danger of deceiving themselves and deceiving others. They gather up unguarded expressions from another, not considering that words may be uttered hastily and hence may not reflect the real sentiments of the speaker. But those unpremeditated remarks, often so trifling as to be unworthy of notice, are viewed through Satan’s magnifying glass, pondered, and repeated until molehills become mountains. Separated from God, the surmisers of evil become the sport of temptation. They scarcely know the strength of their feelings or the effect of their words. While condemning the errors of others, they indulge far greater errors themselves. Consistency is a jewel.
Is there no law of kindness to be observed? Have Christians been authorized of God to criticize and condemn one another? Is it honorable, or even honest, to win from the lips of another, under the guise of friendship, secrets which have been entrusted to him, and then turn the knowledge thus gained to his injury? Is it Christian charity to gather up every floating report, to unearth everything that will cast suspicion on the character of another, and then take delight in using it to injure him? Satan exults when he can defame or wound a follower of Christ. He is “the accuser of our brethren.” Shall Christians aid him in his work?
God’s all-seeing eye notes the defects of all and the ruling passion of each, yet He bears with our mistakes and pities our weakness. He bids His people cherish the same spirit of tenderness and forbearance. True Christians will not exult in exposing the faults and deficiencies of others. They will turn away from vileness and deformity, to fix the mind upon that which is attractive and lovely. To the Christian every act of faultfinding, every word of censure or condemnation, is painful.
There have always been men and women who profess the truth, who have not conformed their lives to its sanctifying influence; men who are unfaithful, yet deceiving themselves and encouraging themselves in sin. Unbelief is seen in their life, their deportment, and character, and this terrible evil acts as does a canker.
Would all professed Christians use their investigative powers to see what evils needed to be corrected in themselves, instead of talking of others’ wrongs, there would be a more healthy condition in the church today. . . .
All should wait patiently until they hear both sides of the question, and then believe only what stern facts compel them to believe.
Testimonies, vol. 5, 94–97.
Reprinted from LandMarks, October 1995.
Those who separate from God and lose their spirituality, do not fall back all at once into a state which the true Witness calls lukewarm. They conform to the world little by little. As its influence steals upon them, they fail to resist it and maintain the warfare. After the first step is taken to have friendship with the world, darkness follows and they are prepared for the next. At every step they take in the downward course darkness gathers about them, until they are enshrouded. As they conform to the world they lose the transforming influence of the Spirit of God. They do not realize their distance from God. They think themselves in good case because they profess to believe the truth. They grow weaker and weaker, until the Spirit of God is withdrawn, and God bids his angels, Let them alone! Jesus spues them out of his mouth. He has borne their names to his Father; he has interceded for them, but he ceases his pleadings. Their names are dropped, and they are left with the world. They realize no change. Their profession is the same. There has not been so glaring a departure from the appearance of right. They had become so assimilated to the world that when heaven’s light was withdrawn they did not miss it. Review and Herald, November 26, 1861.
Reprinted from LandMarks, April 1994.
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.