The fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians contains lessons given us by God. In this chapter one speaks under the inspiration of God, one to whom in holy vision God had given instruction. He describes the distribution of God's gifts to His workers, saying: "He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:11-13. Here we are shown that God gives to every man his work, and in doing this work man is fulfilling his part of God's great plan.
This lesson should be carefully considered by our physicians and medical missionaries. God established His instrumentalities among a people who recognize the laws of the divine government. The sick are to be healed through the combined effort of the human and the divine. Every gift, every power, that Christ promised His disciples He bestows upon those who will serve Him faithfully. And He who gives mental capabilities, and who entrusts talents to the men and women who are His by creation and redemption, expects that these talents and capabilities will be increased by use. Every talent must be employed in blessing others and thus bringing honor to God. But physicians have been led to suppose that their capabilities were their individual property. The powers given them for God's work they have used in branching out into lines of work to which God has not appointed them.
Satan works every moment to find an opportunity for stealing in. He tells the physician that his talents are too valuable to be bound up among Seventh-day Adventists, that if he were free he could do a very large work. The physician is tempted to feel that he has methods which he can carry independent of the people for whom God has wrought that He might place them above every other people on the face of the earth. But let not the physician feel that his influence would increase if he should separate himself from this work. Should he attempt to carry out his plans he would not meet with success.
Selfishness introduced in any degree into ministerial or medical work is an infraction of the law of God. When men glory in their capabilities and cause the praise of men to flow to finite beings, they dishonor God, and He will remove that in which they glory. The physicians connected with our sanitariums and medical missionary work have by God's providence been bound to this people, whom He has commanded to be a light in the world. Their work is to give all that the Lord has given them to give, not as one influence among many, but as the influence through God to make effective the truth for this time.
God has committed to us a special work, a work that no other people can do. He has promised us the aid of His Holy Spirit. The heavenly current is flowing earthward for the accomplishment of the very work appointed us. Let not this heavenly current be turned aside by our deviations from the straightforward path marked out by Christ.
Physicians are not to suppose that they can compass the world by their plans and efforts. God has not set them to embrace so much with their own labors merely. The man who invests his powers in many lines of work cannot take in hand the management of a health institution and do it justice.
If the Lord's workers take up lines of labor which crowd out that which should be done by them in communicating light to the world, God does not receive through their labors the glory that should accrue to His holy name. When God calls a man to do a certain work in His cause, He does not also lay upon him burdens that other men can and should bear. These may be essential, but according to His own wisdom God apportions to every man his work. He does not want the minds of His responsible men strained to the utmost point of endurance by taking up many lines of labor. If the worker does not take up his appointed task, that which the Lord sees is the very thing he is fitted to do, he is neglecting duties which, if properly executed, would result in the promulgation of the truth and would prepare men for the great crisis before us.
God cannot give in greatest measure either physical or mental power to those who gather to themselves burdens which He has not appointed. When men take upon themselves such responsibilities, however good the work maybe, their physical strength is overtaxed, and their minds become confused, and they cannot attain the highest success.
Physicians in our institutions should not engage in numerous enterprises and thus allow their work to flag when it should stand upon right principles and exert a worldwide influence. God has not set His colaborers to embrace so many things, to make such large plans, that they fail in their allotted place of accomplishing the great good He expects them to do in diffusing light to the world, in drawing men and women as He is leading by His supreme wisdom.
The enemy has determined to counterwork the designs of God to benefit humanity in revealing to them what constitutes true medical missionary work. So many interests have been brought in that the workers cannot do all things according to the pattern shown in the mount. I have been instructed that the work appointed to the physicians in our institutions is enough for them to do, and what the Lord requires of them is to link up closely with the gospel missionaries and do their work with faithfulness. He has not asked our physicians to embrace so large and varied a work as some have undertaken. He has not made it the special work of our physicians to labor for those in the dens of iniquity in our large cities. The Lord does not require impossibilities of His servants. The work which He gave to our physicians was to symbolize to the world the ministry of the gospel in medical missionary work.
The Lord does not lay upon His people all the burden of laboring for a class so hardened by sin that many of them will neither be benefited themselves nor benefit others. If there are men who can take up the work for the most degraded, if God lays upon them a burden to labor for the masses in various ways, let these go forth and gather from the world the means required for doing this work. Let them not depend on the means which God intends shall sustain the work of the third angel's message.
Our sanitariums need the power of brain and heart of which they are being robbed by another line of work. Everything that Satan can do he will do to multiply the responsibilities of our physicians, for he knows that this means weakness instead of strength to the institutions with which they are connected.
Great consideration must be exercised in the work that we undertake. We are not to assume large burdens in the care of infant children. This work is being done by others. We have a special work in caring for and educating the children more advanced in years. Let families who can do so adopt the little ones, and they will receive a blessing in so doing. But there is a higher and more special work to engage the attention of our physicians in educating those who have grown up with deformed characters. The principles of health reform must be brought before parents. They must be converted, that they may act as missionaries in their own homes. This work our physicians have done, and can still do, if they will not sacrifice themselves by carrying so many and varied responsibilities.
The head physician in any institution holds a difficult position, and he should keep himself free from minor responsibilities; for these will give him no time for rest. He should have sufficient trustworthy help, for he has trying work to perform. He must bow in prayer with the suffering ones and lead his patients to the Great Physician. If as a humble suppliant he seeks God for wisdom to deal with each case, his strength and influence will be greatly increased.
Of himself, what can man accomplish in the great work set forth by the infinite God? Christ says: "Without Me ye can do nothing." John 15:5. He came to our world to show men how to do the work given them by God, and He says to us: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." Matthew 11: 28-30. Why is Christ's yoke easy and His burden light? Because He bore the weight of it upon the cross of Calvary.
Personal religion is essential for every physician if he is to be successful in caring for the sick. He needs a power greater than his own intuition and skill. God desires physicians to link up with Him and know that every soul is precious in His sight. He who depends upon God, realizing that He alone who made man knows how to direct, will not fail in his appointed work as a healer of bodily infirmities or as a physician of the souls for whom Christ died.
One who bears the heavy responsibilities of the physician needs the prayers of the gospel minister, and he should be linked, soul, mind, and body, with the truth of God. Then he can speak a word in season to the afflicted. He can watch for souls as one who must give an account. He can present Christ as the way, the truth, and the life. The Scriptures come clearly to his mind, and he speaks as one who knows the value of the souls with whom he is dealing.
Conformity to the World
The Lord Jesus has said: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." Luke 9:23. Christ's words made an impression on the minds of His hearers. Many of them, though not clearly comprehending His instruction, were moved by deep conviction to say decidedly: "Never man spake like this Man." John 7:46. The disciples did not always understand the lessons which Christ wished to convey by parables, and when the multitude had gone away, they would ask Him to explain His words. He was ever ready to lead them to a perfect understanding of His word and His will; for from them, in clear, distinct lines, truth was to go forth to the world.
At times Christ reproached His disciples with the slowness of their comprehension. He placed in their possession truths of which they little suspected the value. He had been with them a long time, giving them lessons in divine truth; but their previous religious education, the erroneous interpretation which they had heard the Jewish teachers place on the Scriptures, kept their minds clouded. Christ promised them that He would send them His Spirit, who would recall His words to their minds as forgotten truths. He shall teach you all things," Christ said, "and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:26.
The way the Jewish teachers explained the Scriptures, their endless repetitions of maxims and fiction, called forth from Christ the words: "This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me." They performed in the temple courts their round of service. They offered sacrifices typifying the great Sacrifice, saying by their ceremonies, "Come, my Saviour;" yet Christ, the One whom all these ceremonies represented, was among them, and they would not recognize nor receive Him. The Saviour declared: "In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matthew 15:8, 9.
Christ is saying to His servants today, as He said to His disciples: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." But men are as slow now to learn the lesson as in Christ's day. God has given His people warning after warning; but the customs, habits, and practices of the world have had so great power on the minds of His professed people that His warnings have been disregarded.
Those who act a part in God's great cause are not to follow the example of worldlings. The voice of God is to be heeded. He who depends on men for strength and influence leans on a broken reed.
Depending on men has been the great weakness of the church. Men have dishonored God by failing to appreciate His sufficiency, by coveting the influence of men. Thus Israel became weak. The people wanted to be like the other nations of the world, and they asked for a king. They desired to be guided by human power which they could see, rather than by the divine, invisible power that till that time had led and guided them, and had given them victory in battle. They made their own choice, and the result was seen in the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the nation.
We cannot put confidence in any man, however learned, however elevated he may be, unless he holds the beginning of his confidence in God firm unto the end. What must have been the power of the enemy upon Solomon, a man whom Inspiration has thrice called the beloved of God, and to whom was committed the great work of building the temple! In that very work Solomon made an alliance with idolatrous nations, and through his marriages he bound himself up with heathen women through whose influence he in his later years forsook the temple of God to worship in the groves he had prepared for their idols.
So now, men set God aside as not sufficient for them. They resort to worldly men for recognition and think that by means of the influence gained from the world they can do some great thing. But they mistake. By leaning on the arm of the world instead of the arm of God, they turn aside the work which God desires to accomplish through His chosen people.
When brought in contact with the higher classes of society, let not the physician feel that he must conceal the peculiar characteristics which sanctification through the truth gives him. The physicians who unite with the work of God are to co-operate with God as His appointed instrumentalities; they are to give all their powers and efficiency to magnifying the work of God's commandment-keeping people. Those who in their human wisdom try to conceal the peculiar characteristics that distinguish God's people from the world will lose their spiritual life and will no longer be upheld by His power.
Our medical workers should never entertain the idea that it is essential to make an appearance of being wealthy. There will be a strong temptation to do this with the thought that it will give influence. But I am instructed to say that it will have the opposite effect.
All who seek to uplift themselves by conforming to the world set an example that is misleading. God recognizes as His those only who practice the self-denial and sacrifice which He has enjoined. Physicians are to understand that their power lies in their meekness and lowliness of heart. God will honor those who make Him their dependence.
The style of a physician's dress, his equipage, his furniture, count not one jot with God. He cannot work by His Holy Spirit with those who try to compete with the world in dress and display. He who follows Christ must deny himself and take up the cross.
The physician who loves and fears God will need to make no outward display in order to distinguish himself; for the Sun of Righteousness is shining in his heart and is revealed in his life, and this gives him distinction. Those who work in Christ's lines will be living epistles, known and read of all men. Through their example and influence men of wealth and talent will be turned from the cheapness of material things to lay hold on eternal realities. The greatest respect will ever be shown to the physician who reveals that he receives his directions from God. Nothing will work so powerfully for the advancement of God's instrumentality as for those connected with it to stand steadfast as His faithful servants.
The physician will find that it is for his present and eternal good to follow the Lord's ways of working. The mind that God has made He can mold without the power of man, but He honors men by asking them to co-operate with Him in His great work.
Many regard their own wisdom as sufficient, and they arrange things according to their judgment, thinking to bring about wonderful results. But if they would depend on God, and not on themselves, they would receive heavenly wisdom. Those who are so engrossed with their work that they cannot find time to press their way to the throne of grace and obtain counsel from God will turn the work into wrong channels. Our strength lies in our union with God through His only-begotten Son and in our union with one another.
The surgeon most truly successful is he who loves God, who sees God in His created work and worships Him as he traces His wise arrangement in the human organism. The most successful physician is he who fears God from his youth, as did Timothy, who feels that Christ is his constant companion, a friend with whom he can always commune. Such a physician would not exchange his position for the highest office the world could give. He is more anxious to honor God and secure His approval than to secure patronage and honor from the great men of the world.
Every sanitarium established among Seventh-day Adventists should be made a Bethel. All who are connected with this branch of the work should be consecrated to God. Those who minister to the sick, who perform delicate, grave operations, should remember that one slip of the knife, one nervous tremor, may cause a soul to be launched into eternity. They should not be allowed to take so many responsibilities that they have no time for special seasons of prayer. By earnest prayer they should acknowledge their dependence upon God. Only through a sense of God's pure truth working in the mind and heart, only through the calmness and strength that He alone can impart, are they qualified to perform those critical operations which mean life or death to the afflicted ones.
The physician who is truly converted will not gather to himself responsibilities that interfere with his work for souls. Since without Christ we can do nothing, how can a physician or a medical missionary engage successfully in his important work without earnestly seeking the Lord in prayer? Prayer and a study of the word bring life and health to the soul.
The Lord is waiting to manifest through His people His grace and power. But He requires that those who engage in His service shall keep their minds ever directed to Him. Every day they should have time for reading the word of God and for prayer. Every officer and every soldier under the command of the God of Israel needs time in which to consult with God and seek His blessing. If the worker allows himself to be drawn away from this, he will loose his spiritual power. Individually we are to walk and talk with God; then the sacred influence of the gospel of Christ in all its preciousness will appear in our lives.
A work of reformation is to be carried on in our institutions. Physicians, workers, nurses, are to realize that they are on probation, on trial for their present life, and for that life which measures with the life of God. We are to put every faculty to the stretch in order to bring saving truths to the attention of suffering human beings. This must be done in connection with the work of healing the sick. Then the cause of truth will stand before the world in the strength which God designs it to have. Through the influence of sanctified workers the truth will be magnified. It will go forth "as a lamp that burneth."