[Editor’s Note: This article concludes a compilation of counsel given to strengthen and encourage anyone who is struggling through a crisis caused by the “Power of Speech.”]
Why the church is continually weak:
“God may choose instrumentalities that we do not accept, because they do not exactly meet our ideas. They do not work in the very line marked out as perfect, and in place of leaving them with God, for His Spirit to work with them, many begin to present difficulties, barricade the way, and cherish a grieved feeling because they see that they are doing a work that has not been done. Then begins the dissecting of character and the gathering up of tidbits of complaints, and faultfinding and slander, and magnifying of little occurrences and events into grave sins. This has been done in the church until we are weak, and we will always be weak unless this narrow order of things is changed. May the Lord show you all what to do that you may be filled with thanksgiving, gratitude and praise to God for the precious gift of the Son of God, and put away envyings, jealousies and rivalries, that true love and unity may exist.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, 265.
Faultfinders and their sympathizers are to be disfellowshipped.
“There are those members who are busybodies, speaking evil, sowing the seeds of doubt and infidelity, who pay no heed to the light God has given them in His Word. If we have but one church member who by his spirit, words, and influence seeks to counterwork the influence of the minister of Christ, labor with that one faithfully; and if after taking the steps required by Christ, he will not hear, will not change his course of action, then separate him from the church, and let him know the reason why the church cannot hold him in her fellowship. And if there are those who sympathize with him, who will not discern the right from the wrong, who, after patient instruction has been given them, choose to keep on the wrong side, let them also be suspended. God’s name must not be dishonored by murmurers, faultfinders, and those who are continually sowing seeds of disaffection.” Ibid., vol. 15, 163, 164.
We are not to yield to a faultfinding element in the church.
“It is so childish and inconsistent and miserable a mess that I do not think (it) possible for me to write. These murmurings, faultfinding, these exalting little motes to mention this. Making a man an offender for a word is a grievous sin in the sight of God. But this battle has turned; victory through Jesus Christ is ours. And we know the battle must be fought sometime and it must be done without yielding one inch to gratify and please this faultfinding, disorderly element.” Ibid., vol. 20, 360.
The faultfinder is not converted.
“We may make mistakes, and we may have to ‘admonish one another.’ But there has come into the churches at Oakland and the surrounding community a spirit of backbiting, of faultfinding and evil-speaking, which demonstrates that you are not converted. Words are uttered that never should pass the lips of a Christian. My brethren and sisters, when you have nothing better to speak of than something about the faults of others, remember that ‘silence is eloquence.’ Cease to dwell upon the shortcomings of others. Keep the tongue sanctified unto God. Refrain from saying anything that might detract from the influence of another; for by indulging in these words of criticism, you blaspheme God’s holy name as verily as you would were you to swear.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 367.
Satan tempts men to call reproof “faultfinding” (or accusing), saying that they are misused, etc.
“I see perplexities on every side. As character develops man and woman will take their position, for varied circumstances brought to bear upon them will cause them to reveal the spirit which prompts them to action. Every one will reveal the character of the bundle with which he is binding himself. The wheat is being bound up for the heavenly garner. The true people of God are now bound up for the heavenly garner. The true people of God are now pulling apart, and the tares are being bound in bundles ready to burn. Decided positions will be taken. Satan will move upon minds that have been indulged, upon men who have always had their own way, and anything presented to them in counsel or reproof to change their objectionable traits of character is considered faultfinding, binding them, restraining them, that they cannot have liberty to act themselves. The Lord in great mercy has sent messages of warning to them, but they would not listen to reproof. Like the enemy who rebelled in heaven, they do not like to hear, do not correct the wrong they have done but become accusers, declaring themselves misused and unappreciated.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 3, 995.
Do we have a Christlike character?
“When Christ was living on this earth, how surprised would have been His associates, if, after becoming acquainted with Him, they had heard Him utter one word of impatience, one word of accusation or of faultfinding! He expects those who love Him and believe in Him, to represent Him in character.” The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, 16.
“The children of God should never be rough and discourteous in their bearing toward one another. They should never blame and condemn. To those who want to give vent to a spirit of faultfinding, I would say, Go out among the rocks and stumps, and there relieve your mind of its evil thoughts; for these inanimate objects will not be harmed by your words. Only your own soul will suffer. After you have talked it all out, consider that it is written in the books of heaven what manner of spirit you are of. Then come to God with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, confess your need, and plead for his grace to make you one of his humble children. Let the ambition you have be exercised in a way that will bless needy souls.” Spalding and Magan Collection, 407.
“It is not the opposition of the world that most endangers the church of Christ. It is the evil cherished in the hearts of believers that works their most grievous disaster and most surely retards the progress of God’s cause. There is no surer way of weakening spirituality than by cherishing envy, suspicion, faultfinding, and evil surmising.” The Acts of the Apostles, 549.
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.