[Editor’s Note: This article continues a compilation of counsel given to strengthen and encourage anyone who is struggling through a crisis caused by the “Power of Speech.”]
It is our duty to subdue natural feelings in not expressing unsanctified sympathy.
“You have a work to do for yourselves which no one can do for you. You are inclined to murmur and complain. You have something to do to subdue your natural feelings. Live for God yourselves, knowing that you have not to answer for the wrongs of others. I saw . . . that you would certainly be overcome by Satan, and make utter shipwreck of faith, unless you stop your faultfinding, and seek pure and undefiled religion before God. You need to be elevated in your thoughts and conversation; you need a thorough conversion.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 221.
“I was shown that neither of you really know yourselves. If God should let the enemy loose upon you, as He did upon His servant Job, He would not find in you that spirit of steadfast integrity that He found in Job, but a spirit of murmuring and of unbelief. Had you been situated at Battle Creek during my husband’s illness, at the time of the trial of our brethren and sisters there, when Satan had special power upon them, both of you would have drunk deep of their spirit of jealousy and faultfinding. You would have been among the number, as zealous as the rest, to make a diseased, careworn man, a paralytic, an offender for a word.” Ibid., vol. 3, 311, 312.
“Feelings of suspicion, jealousy, and unbelief have for years been gaining power upon your mind. You have a hatred for reproof. You are very sensitive, and your sympathies arise at once for anyone who is reproved. This is not a sanctified feeling, and is not prompted by the Spirit of God. Brother and Sister A, I was shown that when this spirit of faultfinding and murmuring should be developed in you, when it should be manifested and the leaven of dissatisfaction, jealousy, and unbelief which has cursed the life of E and her husband should appear, we would have a work to do to meet it decidedly and give that spirit no quarter; and that, until this should be developed, I should keep silent, for there was a time to speak and a time to keep silent. I saw that, should apparent prosperity attend the labors of Brother A, unless he was a thoroughly converted man he would be in danger of losing his soul. He does not have becoming respect for the position and labors of others; he considers himself second to none.” Ibid., 313, 314.
What is the result to the child of continual faultfinding?
“In your own house you should exercise kindness, speaking gently to your child, treating him affectionately, and refraining from reproving him for every little error, lest he become hardened by continual faultfinding.” Ibid., vol. 4, 61.
“You are overbearing, and stir up strife by faultfinding and hasty condemnation. You have so long cultivated a spirit of retaliation that you continually need the grace of God to soften and subdue your nature. The dear Saviour has said: ‘Bless them that curse you, . . . and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ [Matthew 5:44.]” Ibid., 134.
How long will we receive reproof in this world?
“The Lord is fitting a people for heaven. The defects of character, the stubborn will, the selfish idolatry, the indulgence of faultfinding, hatred, and contention, provoke the wrath of God and must be put away from His commandment-keeping people. Those living in these sins are deceived and blinded by the wiles of Satan. They think that they are in the light when they are groping in darkness. There are murmurers among us now, even as there were murmurers among ancient Israel. Those who by unwise sympathy encourage men in rebellion when their self-love is smarting beneath merited reproof are not the friends of God, the great Reprover. God will send reproof and warning to His people as long as they continue upon earth.” Ibid., 180.
The curse of politics in the church:
“No countenance should be given to a spirit that implies: ‘If you favor me, I will favor you.’ This is unsanctified, worldly policy, which displeases God. It is paying favors and admiration for the sake of gain. It is showing a partiality for certain ones, expecting to secure advantages through them. It is seeking their good will by indulgence, that we may be held in greater estimation than others fully as worthy as ourselves. It is a hard thing to see one’s own errors, but everyone should realize how cruel is the spirit of envy, rivalry, distrust, faultfinding, and dissension.” Ibid., 222.
When will God not bring souls into the church?
“Some have been ready to say anything, to prefer any charge, against the servants of God, and to be jealous and faultfinding. And if they can find any instance where, in their zeal for the cause of God, they think ministers have spoken decidedly, and perhaps severely, they have been willing to make the most of their words, and have felt at liberty to cherish the most bitter, wicked spirit, and to charge the Lord’s servants with wrong motives. Let these faultfinders ask what they would have done under similar circumstances, bearing similar burdens. Let them look and search and condemn their own wrong, overbearing course and their own impatience and fretfulness; and when without sin themselves, let them cast the first stone of censure at the brethren who are trying to get them into working order. A holy God will not bring out souls to the truth to come under such an influence as has existed in the church. Our heavenly Father is too wise to bring souls into the truth to be molded by the influence of these men who are unconsecrated in heart and life. These men are not in harmony with the truth. They are not in union with the body, but are drawing off from the church. They are working at cross purposes with those whom God is using to bring souls into the truth.” Ibid., 238.
Becoming excited in speech:
“Some think it is a virtue to be unrestrained, and they will speak in praise of their outspoken habit of talking out disagreeable things which are in the heart. They let an angry spirit exhaust itself in a torrent of reproach and faultfinding. The more they talk, the more excited they become, and Satan stands by to help on the work, for it suits him. The words irritate the one to whom they are spoken, and they will be thrown back, giving provocation for still harder words, until a little matter has blazed into a great flame. Both of you feel that you have all the trials that you can possibly endure and that your lives are most unhappy. Resolutely commence the work of controlling your thoughts, your words, your actions. When either of you feels the rising of resentment, make it a rule to go by yourself and humbly pray to God, who will hearken to the prayer which goeth not forth from feigned lips.” Ibid., 243.
On making strong statements:
“Brother F, you are naturally an impatient, fretful, exacting man at home; and after a short acquaintance you show this out in new places. You frequently talk in an impatient, overbearing manner. This must all be repented of. You may now begin anew. God has in His boundless mercy given you another chance. Your wife has much in herself to contend against, and you should be on your guard that you do not throw her upon Satan’s ground. Fretting, faultfinding, and making strong statements must be given up. What time have you set to gain the victory over your perverse will and the defects in your character? With the advancement you now make, your probation may close before you have made the determined efforts essential to give you the victory over self. You will, in the providence of God, be placed in positions where your peculiarities, if existing, will be tried and revealed. You neither see nor realize the effect of your thoughtless, impatient, complaining, whining words.” Ibid., 341, 342.
“Ungovernable passion will not be subdued in a moment; but your lifework is before you to rid the garden of the heart of the poisonous weeds of impatience, faultfinding, and an overbearing disposition.” Ibid., 365.
What is another way in which we may practice self-denial?
“Self-denial means to rule the spirit when passion is seeking for the mastery; to resist the temptation to censure and to speak faultfinding words; to have patience with the child that is dull and whose conduct is grievous and trying; to stand at the post of duty when others may fail; to lift responsibilities wherever and whenever you can, not for the purpose of applause, not for policy, but for the sake of the Master, who has given you a work to be done with unwavering fidelity; when you might praise yourself, to keep silent and let other lips praise you. Self-denial is to do good to others where inclination would lead you to serve and please yourself. Although your fellow men may never appreciate your efforts or give you credit for them, yet you are to work on.” Ibid., 521.
When will faultfinding cease?
“When Christ is in the heart it will be so softened and subdued by love for God and man that fretting, faultfinding, and contention will not exist there. The religion of Christ in the heart will gain for its possessor a complete victory over those passions that are seeking for the mastery.” Ibid., 610.
Faultfinding reveals a worldly spirit.
“The church is composed of imperfect, erring men and women, who call for the continual exercise of charity and forbearance. But there has been a long period of general lukewarmness; a worldly spirit coming into the church has been followed by alienation, faultfinding, malice, strife, and iniquity.” Ibid., vol. 5, 104.
If we have love in our hearts, how will it be revealed?
“Love vaunteth not itself. It is a humble element; it never prompts a man to boast, to exalt himself. Love for God and for our fellow men will not be revealed in acts of rashness nor lead us to be overbearing, faultfinding, or dictatorial. Love is not puffed up. The heart where love reigns will be guided to a gentle, courteous, compassionate course of conduct toward others, whether they suit our fancy or not, whether they respect us or treat us ill. Love is an active principle; it keeps the good of others continually before us, thus restraining us from inconsiderate actions lest we fail of our object in winning souls to Christ. Love seeks not its own. It will not prompt men to seek their own ease and indulgence of self. It is the respect we render to I that so often hinders the growth of love.” Ibid., 123, 124.
Which classes of individuals should not be allowed in the ministry?
“It is such workers that are needed in the cause of God today. The self-sufficient, the envious and jealous, the critical and faultfinding, can well be spared from His sacred work. They should not be tolerated in the ministry, even though they may apparently have accomplished some good. God is not straitened for men or means. He calls for workers who are true and faithful, pure and holy; for those who have felt their need of the atoning blood of Christ and the sanctifying grace of His Spirit.” Ibid., 224.
Which sins produce the greatest evil in the church and separate the church from the Holy Spirit?
“An earnest effort should be made in every church to put away evilspeaking and a censorious spirit as among the sins productive of the greatest evils in the church. Severity and faultfinding must be rebuked as the workings of Satan. Mutual love and confidence must be encouraged and strengthened in the members of the church. Let all, in the fear of God and with love to their brethren, close their ears to gossip and censure. Direct the talebearer to the teachings of God’s word. Bid him obey the Scriptures and carry his complaints directly to those whom he thinks in error. This united action would bring a flood of light into the church and close the door to a flood of evil. Thus God would be glorified, and many souls would be saved.” Ibid., 609, 610.
“Believers have not infrequently allowed the enemy to work through them at the very time when they should have been wholly consecrated to God and to the advancement of His work. Unconsciously they have wandered far from the way of righteousness. Cherishing a spirit of criticism and faultfinding, of pharisaical piety and pride, they have grieved away the Spirit of God and have greatly retarded the work of God’s messengers.” Ibid., vol. 9, 125.
“As they assimilate their character to the divine Pattern, men will not guard their own personal dignity. With jealous, sleepless, loving, devoted interest, they will guard the sacred interest of the church from the evil which threatens to dim and cloud the glory that God intends shall shine forth through her. They will see that Satan’s devices have no place or countenance in her by encouraging faultfinding, gossiping, evilspeaking, and accusing of the brethren; for those things would weaken and overthrow her.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 406, 407.
Reform in speech is to begin at home.
“The Lord weighs our actions and our motives, and He will give great power to those who are His own. Christ is not divided; Christ in one worker will acknowledge Christ in a brother worker. Those who are exacting, who are faultfinding, who think evil of others, are advancing the work of the enemy, tearing down that which God would have built up. All these discordant elements represent the powers of darkness, and show that Christ, the hope of glory, is not found within.” Testimonies to Southern Africa, 26.
“If we are engaged in contentions and faultfinding when we ought to be doing our best for the Master, how can we expect God to bring souls into the truth, and trust them to our unfaithful, unchristlike guidance? Seek the Lord with all your heart; die to self. God’s people must be a unit, and the work must begin in our hearts. The work must begin in our own families. The true witness says, ‘I know thy works.’ You may be constantly imbibing the Spirit of Christ.” Ibid., 34.
What are we to do with unhappy thoughts?
“We must lay hold of the supreme Power, and close our ears to complaint and faultfinding. Crush this inclination, and empty the soul temple of evil-thinking. Let not one unhappy thought remain within. Souls are perishing in their sins. Work to the glory of God.” This Day With God, 347.
When is it impossible to be an overcomer?
“The life we now live must be by faith in Jesus Christ. If we are Christ’s followers our lives will not be as pieced out by little cheap spasmodic actions according to circumstances and surroundings—jerking actions, revealing feelings to be our master, indulging in little frettings, envious faultfindings, jealousies, and selfish vanity. These put us all out of harmony with the harmonious life of Jesus Christ, and we cannot be over-comers if we retain these defects. . . .” The Upward Look, 36.
What is the cause of the present feebleness in the church?
“Envy, evil surmising, backbiting, and faultfinding—let these not be named amongst Christ’s disciples. These things are the cause of the present feebleness of the church. We have a perfect pattern, even the life of Christ. It is to be our eager desire to do as He has done, to live as He lived, that others, seeing our good works, may be led to glorify God. The Lord’s blessing will rest upon us as we seek to bless others by doing the work that Christ came to this world to teach us how to do.” Ibid., 117.
“The slightest diversion from Christ is so much influence, power, and efficiency given to the enemy. The church was called into existence to counteract the influence of Satan; but as member after member of the church allows his ability and power to be diverted, one in one line and another in another line, connections are formed with the world, and the enemy of all righteousness triumphs. Almost imperceptibly the world’s standard, the world’s maxims and customs, are introduced into the church; and as these find room, the objectionable maxims and customs more boldly appear, and leaven the influence of the church; and Satan’s devices are successful, just as he has designed they should be. In this way there is brought into the church a mixed company, a divided service. Many profess to love God, yet they are serving mammon, and bowing at worldly shrines. The world is brought into the church, but not through repentance, contrition, and conversion, but because church-members become wedded to the world; and this unholy union is the explanation of the weakness and inefficiency of the church. It is made manifest when church-members follow the maxims of the world, that spiritual discernment is gone. Where this union is preserved, contention, criticism, faultfinding, strife, and decided hatred one of another comes in among those who should be servants of Jesus Christ.” Review and Herald, August 23, 1892.
“Envy, evil surmising, backbiting, and faultfinding,—let these not be named among Christ’s disciples. These things are the cause of the present feebleness of the church. We have a perfect Pattern, even the life of Christ. It is to be our eager desire to do as he has done, to live as he lived, that others, by seeing our good works, may be led to glorify God. The blessing of heaven will rest upon those who try to help others by doing the work that Christ came to do.” Ibid., May 10, 1906.
When Satan triumphs:
“Oh, I have been shown how he exults when we are overcome and the spirit of impatience and faultfinding is indulged. He is in an exultation of triumph, for he knows that this grieves the Spirit of God and separates us from our Strength. Our words must be faultless, our spirit patient, and kind, forbearing, long-suffering, and we manifesting by our words and actions that we have learned of Jesus and are still learning in the school of Christ. . . .” The Upward Look, 127.
“If we could discern the exultation of Satan when his temptations are received, when a captious, faultfinding, uncharitable spirit is revealed, there would be less judging one another.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Material, vol. 3, 1154.
How are the ears defiled?
“Let not one evil word escape our lips, because our lips, our voice, belong to the Lord, and must be consecrated to the Lord and to His service. These lips must not dishonor Jesus, for they belong to Him. He has bought them and I must speak nothing that will offend Jesus. My ears must be closed to evil. Thus day by day we can consecrate ourselves to God. The ears must not be defiled by listening to any gossip that faultfinding ones would have us hear, for I not only cause them to sin in allowing them to talk of others’ faults, but I sin myself in listening to them. I can prevent much evil speaking in thus having ears consecrated to God. I can say before the evil is done, ‘Let us pray,’ then ask God to enlighten both our minds to understand our true relation to one another and our true relation to God.” The Upward Look, 237.
What should we do when tempted to find fault?
“When tempted to speak words of faultfinding, begin to sing, ‘Praise ye the Lord.’ ” The Voice in Speech and Song, 152.
“Oh, pardon our transgressions, and forgive our sins! Show us where we have come short. Let Thy Holy Spirit descend upon us. The world is perishing in sin, and we ask Thee to roll the burden upon us at this meeting. We desire to be weighted down with the Holy Spirit. We desire to stand where Thou canst reveal Thyself to us. Take away our hardness of heart, and give us softened hearts. I ask Thee, for Christ’s sake, that Thou wouldst give understanding, that Thou wouldst give spiritual knowledge, that Thou wouldst give sensitive hearts, that all may see that it is high time to open the door of the heart to Jesus. Thou hast said that Thou hast heard the many words of complaint, and faultfinding, and murmuring, brother against brother, and friend against friend. Thou hast heard these words, and they are written in Thy book. They have stood as a block against the wheel of salvation, hindering its advancement. Convert Thy people in this the day of Thy preparation, that the time may not come when they will say, ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.’ ” The General Conference Bulletin, April 2, 1903.
Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life Ministry and pastor of the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.