Temperance Work a Living Issue. --Every true reform has its place in the work of the gospel and tends to the uplifting of the soul to a new and nobler life. Especially does the temperance reform demand the support of Christian workers. They should call attention to this work, and make it a living issue. Everywhere they should present to the people the principles of true temperance, and call for signers to the temperance pledge. Earnest effort should be made in behalf of those who are in bondage to evil habits.
There is everywhere a work to be done for those who through intemperance have fallen. In the midst of churches, religious institutions, and professedly Christian homes, many of the youth are choosing the path to destruction. Through intemperance habits they bring upon themselves disease, and through greed to obtain money for sinful indulgence they fall into dishonest practices. Health and character are ruined. Aliens from God, outcasts from society, these poor souls feel that they are without hope either for this life or for the life to come. The hearts of the parents are broken. Men speak of these erring ones as hopeless; but not so does God regard them. He understands all the circumstances that have made them what they are, and He looks upon them with pity. This is a class that demand help. Never give them occasion to say. "No man cares for my soul."
Give First Attention to the Physical Condition. --Among the victims of intemperance are men of all classes and all professions. Men of high station, of eminent talents, of great attainments, have yielded to the indulgence of appetite, until they are helpless to resist temptation. Some of them who were once in the possession of wealth are without home, without friends, in suffering, misery, disease, and degradation. They have lost their self-control. Unless a helping hand is held out to them, they will sink lower and lower. With these self-indulgence is not only a moral sin, but a physical disease.
Often in helping the intemperate, we must, as Christ so often did, give first attention to their physical condition. They need wholesome, unstimulating food and drink, clean clothing, opportunity to secure physical cleanliness. They need to be surrounded with an atmosphere of helpful, uplifting Christian influence. In every city a place should be provided where the slaves of evil habit may receive help to break the chains that bind them. Strong drink is regarded by many as the only solace in trouble; but this need not be, if, instead of acting the part of the priest and Levite, professed Christians would follow the example of the good Samaritan.
Patience Needed in Dealing with Demon-Possessed Inebriate. --In dealing with the victims of intemperate we must remember that we are not dealing with sane men, but with those who for the time being are under the power of a demon. Be patient and forbearing. Think not of the repulsive, forbidding appearance, but of the precious life that Christ died to redeem. As the drunkard awakens to a sense of his degradation, do all in your power to show that you are his friend. Speak no word of censure. Let no act or look express reproach or aversion. Very likely the poor soul curses himself. Help him to rise. Speak words that will encourage faith. Seek to strengthen every good trait in his character. Teach him how to reach upward. Show him that it is possible for him to
live so as to win the respect of his fellow men. Help him to see the value of the talents which God has given him, but which he has neglected to improve.
Although the will has been depraved and weakened, there is hope for him in Christ. He will awaken in the heart higher impulses and holier desires. Encourage him to lay hold of the hope set before him in the gospel. Open the Bible before the tempted, struggling one, and over and over again read to him the promises of God. These promises will be to him as the leaves of the tree of life. Patiently continue your efforts, until with grateful joy the trembling hand grasps the hope of redemption through Christ.
Continued Efforts Needed. --You must hold fast to those whom you are trying to help, else victory will never be yours. They will be continually tempted to evil. Again and again they will be almost overcome by the craving for strong drink; again and again they may fall; but do not, because of this, cease your efforts.
They have decided to make an effort to live for Christ; but their will power is weakened, and they must be carefully guarded by those who watch for souls as they that must give an account. They have lost their manhood, and this they must win back. Many have to battle against strong hereditary tendencies to evil. Unnatural cravings, sensual impulses, were their inheritance from birth. These must be carefully guarded against. Within and without, good and evil are striving for the mastery. Those who have never passed through such experiences cannot know the almost overmastering power of appetite, or the fierceness of the conflict between habits of self-indulgence and the determination to be temperate in all things. Over and over again the battle must be fought.
Not to Be Discouraged by Backsliding. --Many who are drawn to Christ will not have moral courage to continue the warfare against appetite and passion. But the worker must
not be discouraged by this. Is it only those rescued from the lowest depths that backslide?
Remember that you do not work alone. Ministering angels unite in service with every truehearted son and daughter of God. And Christ is the Restorer. The Great Physician Himself stands beside His faithful workers, saying to the repentant soul, "Child, thy sins be forgiven thee." Mark 2:5, and A.R.V. margin.
Many Will Enter Heaven. --Many are the outcasts who will grasp the hope set before them in the gospel, and will enter the kingdom of heaven, while others who were blessed with great opportunities and great light which they did not improve will be left in outer darkness. --The Ministry of Healing, pages 171-174.
Good Impulses Beneath a Forbidding Exterior. --We become too easily discouraged over the souls who do not at once respond to our efforts. Never should we cease to labor for a soul while there is one gleam of hope. Precious souls cost our self-sacrificing Redeemer too dear a price to be lightly given up to the tempter's power.
We need to put ourselves in the place of the tempted ones. Consider the power of heredity, the influence of evil associations and surroundings, the power of wrong habits. Can we wonder that under such influences many become degraded? Can we wonder that they should be slow to respond to efforts for their uplifting?
Often, when won to the gospel, those who appeared coarse and unpromising will be among its most loyal adherents and advocates. They are not altogether corrupt. Beneath the forbidding exterior, there are good impulses that might be reached. Without a helping hand many would never recover themselves, but by patient, persistent effort they may be uplifted. Such need tender words, kind consideration, tangible help. They need that kind of counsel which will not extinguish
the faint gleam of courage in the soul. Let the workers who come in contact with them consider this.
Fruits of the Miracle of Grace. --Some will be found whose minds have been so long debased that they will never in this life become what under more favorable circumstances they might have been. But the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness may shine into the soul. It is their privilege to have the life that measures with the life of God. Plant in their minds uplifting, ennobling thoughts. Let your life make plain to them the difference between vice and purity, darkness and light. In your example let them read what it means to be a Christian. Christ is able to uplift the most sinful, and place them where they will be acknowledged as children of God, joint heirs with Christ to the immortal inheritance.
By the miracle of divine grace, many may be fitted for lives of usefulness. Despised and forsaken, they have become utterly discouraged; they may appear stoical and stolid. But under the ministration of the Holy Spirit, the stupidity that makes their uplifting appear so hopeless will pass away. The dull, clouded mind will awake. The slave of sin will be set free. Vice will disappear, and ignorance will be overcome. Through the faith that works by love the heart will be purified and the mind enlightened.-- The Ministry of Healing, pages 168, 169.
Personal Labor Called For. --Missionary work does not consist merely of preaching. It includes personal labor for those who have abused their health and have placed themselves where they have not moral power to control their appetites and passions. These souls are to be labored for as those more favorably situated. Our world is full of suffering ones. -- Evangelism,page 265.
The Example of Self-Control. --Those who control themselves
are fitted to labor for the weak and erring. They will deal with them tenderly and patiently. By their own example, they will show what is right, and then they will seek to place the erring where they will be under good influences.
"Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from Mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto Me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?"
If any of you find others who are in uncertainty as to what they should do, you are to show them. Everyone should be engaged in the work of soulsaving. Everyone should be prepared to give instruction in regard to the science of salvation. --Manuscript 38 1/2, 1905.
Be Compassionate and Sympathetic. --Let us seek to understand how to reach the people. There is no better way to do this than to be compassionate and sympathetic. If you know of those who are sick and in need of assistance, help them, try to relieve them in their distress. As you do this work, the power of the Lord will speak through it to the soul. -- General Conference Bulletin, April 23, 1901.
Win by Sympathy and Love. --Persons are attracted by sympathy and love; and many may thus be won to the ranks of Christ and reform; but they cannot be forced or driven. Christian forbearance, candor, consideration, and courtesy toward all who do not see the truth as we do, will exert a powerful influence for good. We must learn not to move too fast, and require too much of those who are newly converted to the truth.--Manuscript 1, 1878.
Encouragement of Little Attentions. --In all our associations it should be remembered that in the experience of others there are chapters sealed from mortal sight. On the pages of memory are sad histories that are sacredly guarded from curious eyes. There stand registered long, hard battles with trying circumstances, perhaps troubles in the home life, that day by
day weaken courage, confidence, and faith. Those who are fighting the battle of life at great odds may be strengthened and encouraged by little attentions that cost only a loving effort. To such the strong, helpful grasp of the hand by a true friend is worth more than gold or silver. Words of kindness are as welcome as the smile of angels.-- The Ministry of Healing, page 158.
Offer Something Better--Don't Attack. --It is of little use to try to reform others by attacking what we may regard as wrong habits. Such effort often results in more harm than good. In His talk with the Samaritan woman, instead of disparaging Jacob's well, Christ presented something better. "If thou knewest the gift of God," He said, "and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water." John 4:10. He turned the conversation to the treasure He had to bestow, offering the woman something better than she possessed, even living water, the joy and hope of the gospel. This is an illustration of the way in which we are to work. We must offer men something better than that which they possess, even the peace of Christ, which passeth all understanding. We must tell them of God's holy law, the transcript of His character, and an expression of that which He wishes them to become. Show them how infinitely superior to the fleeting joys and pleasures of the world is the imperishable glory of heaven. Tell them of the freedom and rest to be found in the Saviour. "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" (verse 14), He declared.
Lift up Jesus, crying, "Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!" John 1:29, A.R.V. He alone can satisfy the craving of the heart, and give peace to the soul.
Unselfish, Kind, Courteous. --Of all people in the world, reformers should be the most unselfish, the most kind, the most courteous. In their lives should be seen the true goodness
of unselfish deeds. The worker who manifests a lack of courtesy, who shows impatience at the ignorance or waywardness of others, who speaks hastily or acts thoughtlessly, may close the door to hearts so that he can never reach them.
As the dew and the still showers fall upon the withering plants, so let words fall gently when seeking to win men from error. God's plan is first to reach the heart. We are to speak the truth in love, trusting in Him to give it power for the reforming of the life. The Holy Spirit will apply to the soul the word that is spoken in love.
Naturally we are self-centered and opinionated. But when we learn the lessons that Christ desires to teach us, we become partakers of His nature; henceforth we live His life. The wonderful example of Christ, the matchless tenderness with which He entered into the feelings of others, weeping with those who wept, rejoicing with those who rejoiced, must have a deep influence upon the character of all who follow Him in sincerity. By kindly words and acts they will try to make the path easy for weary feet.-- The Ministry of Healing, pages 156-158.
The Lost Coin--Precious Still. --The lost coin, in the Saviour's parable, though lying in the dirt and rubbish, was a piece of silver still. Its owner sought it because it was of value. So every soul, however degraded by sin, is in God's sight accounted precious. As the coin bore the image and superscription of the reigning power, so man at his creation bore the image and superscription of God. Though now marred and dim through the influence of sin, the traces of this inscription remain upon every soul. God desires to recover that soul, and to retrace upon it His own image in righteousness and holiness.
How little do we enter into sympathy with Christ on that which should be the strongest bond of union between us and Him,--compassion for depraved, guilty, suffering souls, dead
in trespasses and sins! The inhumanity of man toward man is our greatest sin. Many think that they are representing the justice of God, while they wholly fail of representing His tenderness and His great love. Often the ones whom they meet with sternness and severity are under the stress of temptation. Satan is wrestling with these souls, and harsh, unsympathetic words discouraging them, and cause them to fall a prey to the tempter's power.-- The Ministry of Healing, page 163.
No Censure for the Straying Sheep. --The parable of the lost sheep is a forcible illustration of the Saviour's love for the erring. The Shepherd leaves the ninety and nine in the shelter of the fold, while He goes out to search for the one lost, perishing sheep; and when it is found, He places it upon His shoulder, and returns with rejoicing. He did not find fault with the straying sheep; He did not say, "Let him go if he will;" but He went forth amid frost and sleet and tempest, to save the one that was lost. And He patiently continued His search until the object of His solicitude was found.
Thus are we to treat the erring, wandering one. We should be ready to sacrifice our own ease and comfort when a soul for whom Christ died is in peril. Said Jesus, "Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." As joy was manifested at the recovery of the one lost sheep, so will exceeding joy and gratitude be manifested by the true servants of Christ when one soul is saved from death.--Manuscript 1, 1878.
Christ Will Show Us How. --We are called upon to work with more than human energy, to labor with the power that is in Jesus Christ. The One who stooped to take human nature is the One who will show us how to conduct the battle. Christ has left His work in our hands, and we are to wrestle with God, supplicating day and night for the power that is unseen. It is laying right hold of God through Jesus
Christ that will gain the victory.-- Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 111.
Gratitude of the Saved. --The worth of a soul cannot be fully estimated by finite minds. How gratefully will the ransomed and glorified ones remember those who were instrumental in their salvation! No one will then regret his self-denying efforts and persevering labors, his patience, forbearance, and earnest heart-yearnings for souls that might have been lost had he neglected his duty or become weary in well-doing.--Manuscript I, 1878.
Safeguards for the Worker. --The temptations to which we are daily exposed make prayer a necessity. Dangers beset every path. Those who are seeking to rescue others from vice and ruin are especially exposed to temptation. In constant contact with evil, they need a strong hold upon God, lest they themselves be corrupted. Short and decisive are the steps that lead men down from high and holy ground to a low level. In a moment decisions may be made that fix one's condition forever. One failure to overcome leaves the soul unguarded. One evil habit, if not firmly resisted, will strengthen into chains of steel, binding the whole man.
The reason why so many are left to themselves in places of temptation is that they do not set the Lord always before them. When we permit our communion with God to be broken, our defense is departed from us. Not all your good purposes and good intentions will enable you to withstand evil. You must be men and women of prayer. Your petitions must not be faint, occasional, and fitful, but earnest, persevering, and constant. It is not always necessary to bow upon your knees in order to pray. Cultivate the habit of talking with the Saviour when you are alone, when you are walking, and when you are busy with your daily labor. Let the heart be continually uplifted in silent petition for help, for light, for strength, for knowledge. Let every breath be a prayer.
Protection for Those Who Make God Their Trust. --As
workers for God we must reach men where they are, surrounded with darkness, sunken in vice, and stained with corruption. But while we stay our minds upon Him who is our sun and our shield, the evil that surrounds us will not bring one stain upon our garments. As we work to save the souls that are ready to perish, we shall not be put to shame if we make God our trust. Christ in the heart, Christ in the life, this is our safety. The atmosphere of His presence will fill the soul with abhorrence of all that is evil. Our spirit may be so identified with His that in thought and aim we shall be one with Him.-- The Ministry of Healing, pages 509-511.