What a sacred trust God has committed to us, in making us His servants to aid in the work of saving souls! He has intrusted to us great truths, a most solemn, testing message for the world. Our duty is not simply to preach, but to minister, to come close to hearts. We should use our intrusted talents with skill and wisdom, that we may present the precious light of truth in the most pleasing manner, the way best adapted to win souls.
Paul thus speaks of the ministry of the new covenant: “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labor, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1:25–29). What a responsibility is this! A work is here brought to view that is more laborious than merely preaching the word; it is to represent Christ in our character, to be living epistles, known and read of all men.
“The love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). We must cherish love; and if those for whom we labor do not appreciate our efforts, we must not allow discontent or wrong feelings to rule in our hearts. Murmuring thoughts, jealousies, and evil surmisings imbitter the life and mar the labors. It is the Lord who has called us to this work, and we should have an eye single to His glory. We cannot trust to our own efforts, as though we could do the work of converting souls. God alone can convict and convert. Jesus invites sinners to come to Him with all their burdens, and He will give them rest and peace.
Let us never forget that Jesus loves us. He died for us, and now He lives to make intercession in our behalf. And the Father also loves us, and desires our happiness. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32)? Brethren, you should set an example of faith, confidence, and love, to the churches over which the Lord has made you overseers. Will you do your work with fidelity, in the fear of God? Will you feel that you must avail yourselves of every opportunity to obtain grace and power from on high, that you may render to God the very best service possible?
If, as laborers in the cause of God, you feel that you have borne greater cares and trials than have fallen to the lot of others, remember that for you there is a peace unknown to those who shun these burdens. But do not force your trials upon others; do not groan over them. There is comfort and joy in the service of Christ. The Christian gives the Lord his entire affections, but he takes as well as gives; and his language is not that of a murmurer or a constant backslider. He makes no effort to appear righteous, but his life shows that he is led by the Holy Spirit. He can speak with assurance of his hope in Christ; for has he not the promise of God? If he has complied with the conditions upon which these promises are based, God’s word is pledged that He will do for him more than he asks.
We honor God most when we trust Him most. Anxiety and worriment in His service, talking fears and doubts as to whether we shall be saved, savors of selfishness and unbelief. True faith is more solicitous to know what can be done to-day. As we take up our duties one by one, each will come in its proper place; and the faithful discharge of these duties, however small, opens a field where all the powers of the mind can be employed in the service of God. We shall know and obey His will.
Brethren in the faith, express no doubts. Follow closely your Guide. You must dispense with Him before you can lose your way; for the Lord has hedged you in on every side. In the darkest hour, Jesus will be our light. “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). It is an exalted privilege to be connected with Jesus. In every condition of trial, we may have the consolation of His presence. We may live in the very atmosphere of heaven. Our enemies may thrust us in prison, but prison walls cannot cut off the communication between Christ and our souls. One who sees our every weakness, who is acquainted with every trial, is above all earthly powers; and angels can come to us in lonely cells, bringing light and peace from heaven. The prison will be as a palace, for the rich in faith dwell there; and the gloomy walls will be lighted up with heavenly light, as when Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises at midnight in the Philippian dungeon. Bunyan was confined in Bedford jail; and thence issued a light that has illumined the pathway to the celestial city.
God is the “Rock of our salvation” (Psalms 95:1), a present help in every time of need. Then let us be no longer babes in Christ, but bold and firm soldiers of the cross, rejoicing in suffering for the will of God.
Morning Talks, To the Ministers at the General Conference, Battle Creek, Michigan, November, 1883, 12–15.