"As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." 1 Peter 4:10.
Ministers and Business Matters
I have been instructed in regard to the importance of our ministers' keeping free from responsibilities that should be largely borne by businessmen. In the night season I was in an assembly consisting of a number of our brethren who bear the burden of the work. They were deeply perplexed over financial affairs and were consulting as to how the work could be managed most successfully. Some thought that the number of workers might be limited and yet all the results essential be realized. One of the brethren occupying a position of responsibility was explaining his plans and stating what he desired to see accomplished. Several others presented matters for consideration. Then One of dignity and authority arose, and proceeded to state principles for our guidance.
To several ministers the Speaker said: "Your work is not the management of financial matters. It is not wise for you to undertake this. God has burdens for you to bear, but if you carry lines of work for which you are not adapted, your efforts in presenting the word will prove unsuccessful. This will bring upon you discouragement that will disqualify you for the very work you should do, a work requiring careful discrimination and sound, unselfish judgment."
Those who are employed to write and to speak the word should attend fewer committee meetings. They should entrust many minor matters to men of business ability and thus avoid being kept on a constant strain that robs the mind of its natural vigor. They should give far more attention to the preservation of physical health, for vigor of mind depends largely upon vigor of body. Proper periods of sleep and rest and an abundance of physical exercise are essential to health of body and mind. To rob nature of her hours for rest and recuperation by allowing one man to do the work of four, or of three, or even of two, will result in irreparable loss.
Those who think that a man's fitness for a certain position qualifies him to fill several other positions are liable to make mistakes when planning for the advancement of the work. They are liable to place upon one the cares and burdens that should be divided among several.
Experience is of great value. The Lord desires to have men of intelligence connected with His work, men qualified for various positions of trust in our conferences and institutions. Especially are consecrated businessmen needed, men who will carry the principles of truth into every business transaction. Those placed in charge of financial affairs should not assume other burdens, burdens that they are incapable of bearing; nor is the business management to be entrusted to incompetent men. Those in charge of the work have erred sometimes in permitting the appointment of men devoid of tact and ability to manage important financial interests.
Men of promise in business lines should develop and perfect their talents by most thorough study and training. They should be encouraged to place themselves where, as students, they can rapidly gain a knowledge of right business principles and methods. Not one business man now connected with the cause needs to be a novice. If men in any line of work ought to improve their opportunities to become wise and efficient, it is those who are using their ability in the work of building up the kingdom of God in our world. In view of the fact that we are living so near the close of this earth's history, there should be greater thoroughness in labor, more vigilant waiting, watching, praying, and working. The human agent should strive to attain perfection, that he may be an ideal Christian, complete in Christ Jesus.
Right Principles Essential
Those who labor in business lines should take every precaution against falling into error through wrong principles or methods. Their record may be like that of Daniel in the courts of Babylon. When all his business transactions were subjected to the closest scrutiny, not one faulty item could be found. The record of his business life, incomplete though it is, contains lessons worthy of study. It reveals the fact that a businessman is not necessarily a scheming, policy man. He may be a man instructed of God at every step. Daniel, while prime minister of the kingdom of Babylon, was a prophet of God, receiving the light of heavenly inspiration. His life is an illustration of what every Christian businessman may be.
God does not accept the most splendid service unless self is laid upon the altar, a living, consuming sacrifice. The root must be holy, else there can be no sound, healthy fruit, which alone is acceptable to God. The heart must be converted and consecrated. The motives must be right. The inner lamp must be supplied with the oil that flows from the messengers of heaven through the golden tubes into the golden bowl. The Lord's communication never comes to man in vain.
Truths, precious, vital truths, are bound up with man's eternal well-being both in this life and in the eternity that is opening before us. "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth." John 17:17. The word of God is to be practiced. It will live and endure forever. While worldly ambitions, worldly projects, and the greatest plans and purposes of men will perish like the grass, they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Daniel 12:3.
At this time God's cause is in need of men and women who possess rare qualifications and good administrative powers; men and women who will make patient, thorough investigation of the needs of the work in various fields; those who have a large capacity for work; those who possess warm, kind hearts, cool heads, sound sense, and unbiased judgment; those who are sanctified by the Spirit of God and can fearlessly say, No, or Yea and Amen, to propositions; those who have strong convictions, clear understanding, and pure, sympathetic hearts; those who practice the words, "All ye are brethren;" those who strive to uplift and restore fallen humanity.
Take Time to Talk with God
Special instruction has been given me in regard to our ministers. It is not God's will that they should seek to be rich. They should not engage in worldly enterprises, for this disqualifies them for giving their best powers to spiritual things. But they are to receive wages enough to support themselves and their families. They are not to have so many burdens laid upon them that they cannot give proper attention to the church in their own family, for it is their special duty to train their children for the Lord.
It is a great mistake to keep a minister constantly at work in business lines, going from place to place, and sitting up late at night in attendance at board meetings and committee meetings. This brings upon him weariness and discouragement. Ministers should have time to rest to obtain from God's word the rich nourishment of the bread of life. They should have time to drink refreshing drafts of consolation from the stream of living water.
Let ministers and teachers remember that God holds them accountable to fill their office to the best of their ability, to bring into their work their very best powers. They are not to take up duties that conflict with the work that God has given them.
When ministers and teachers, pressed under the burden of financial responsibility, enter the pulpit or the schoolroom with wearied brain and overtaxed nerves, what else can be expected than that common fire will be used instead of the sacred fire of God's kindling? The strained, tattered efforts disappoint the listeners and hurt the speaker. He has had no time to seek the Lord, no time to ask in faith for the unction of the Holy Spirit.
That the efforts of God's workers may be successful, they must receive the grace and efficiency that He alone can give. "Ask, and ye shall receive" (John 16:24), is the promise. Then why not take time to ask, to open the mind to the impressions of the Holy Spirit, that the soul may be revived by a fresh supply of life? Christ Himself was much in prayer. Whenever He had opportunity, He went apart to be alone with God. As we bow before God in humble prayer, He places a live coal from His altar upon our lips, sanctifying them to the work of giving Bible truth to the people.
I am instructed to say to my fellow workers: If you would have the rich treasures of heaven, you must have secret communion with God. Unless you do this, your soul will be as destitute of the Holy Spirit as were the hills of Gilboa of dew and rain. When you hurry from one thing to another, when you have so much to do that you cannot take time to talk with God, how can you expect power in your work?
The reason so many of our ministers preach tame, lifeless discourses is that they allow a variety of things of a worldly nature to take their time and attention. Unless there is constant growth in grace, we shall be wanting in words suitable for the occasion. Commune with your own heart, and then commune with God. Unless you do this, your efforts will be fruitless, made thus by unsanctified hurry and confusion.
Ministers and teachers, let your work be fragrant with rich spiritual grace. Do not make it common by mixing it with common things. Move onward and upward. Cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.
We need to be converted daily. Our prayers should be more fervent; then they will be more effectual.
Stronger and stronger should be our confidence that God's Spirit will be with us, making us pure and holy, as upright and fragrant as the cedar of Lebanon.
Gospel ministers are to keep their office free from all things secular or political, employing all their time and talents in lines of Christian effort.
To fasten a minister to one place by giving him the oversight of business matters connected with the work of the church is not conducive to his spirituality. To do this is not in accordance with the Bible plan as outlined in the sixth chapter of Acts. Study this plan, for it is approved of God. Follow the word.
He who holds forth the word of life is not to allow too many burdens to be placed upon him. He must take time to study the word and to examine self. If he closely searches his own heart, and gives himself to the Lord, he will better understand how to grasp the hidden things of God.
Instead of choosing the work most pleasing to us, and refusing to do something that our brethren think we should do, we are to inquire: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Instead of marking out the way that natural inclination prompts us to follow, we are to pray: "Teach me Thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path." Psalm 27:11.
Financial Details of City Work . Our ministers should learn to let business and financial matters alone. Over and over again I have been instructed that this is not the work of the ministry. They are not to be heavily burdened with the business details even of city work, but are to be in readiness to visit places where an interest in the message has been awakened, and especially to attend our camp meetings. When these meetings are in progress, our workers are not to think that they must remain in the cities to attend to business matters connected with various lines of city work; nor are they to hurry away from the camp meetings in order to do this kind of work.
Those in charge of our conferences should find businessmen to look after the financial details of city work. If such men cannot be found, let facilities be provided for training men to bear these burdens.
Consecrated Financiers . The Scandinavian institutions need not have been in the position in which they are, and they would not be in this position had our brethren in America, years ago, done what they should have done. A man of experience in business lines, with a practical knowledge of bookkeeping, should have been sent to Europe to superintend the keeping of the accounts in our institutions there. And if this work demanded more than one man, more than one should have been sent. Thus thousands and thousands of dollars would have been saved.
Such men should be employed in our work in America, men who are devoted to God, men who know what the principles of heaven are, men who have learned what it means to walk with God. If such men had superintended the financial affairs of our conferences and institutions, there would today be plenty of money in the treasury; and our institutions would now stand as God has declared they should stand, helping the work by self-denial and self-sacrifice.
The Work of the Ministry
Many fields ripe for the harvest have not yet been entered because of our lack of self-sacrificing helpers. These fields must be entered, and many laborers should go to them with the expectation of bearing their own expenses. But some of our ministers are little disposed to take upon them the burden of this work, little disposed to labor with the wholehearted benevolence that characterized the life of our Lord.
God is grieved as He sees the lack of self-denial and perseverance in His servants. Angels are amazed at the spectacle. Let workers for Christ study His life of self-sacrifice. He is our example. Can the ministers of today expect to be called on to endure less hardship than did the early Christians, the Waldenses, and reformers in every age in their efforts to carry the gospel to every land?
God has entrusted to His ministers the work of proclaiming His last message of mercy to the world. He is displeased with those who do not throw their whole energies into this all-important work. Unfaithfulness on the part of the appointed watchmen on the walls of Zion endangers the cause of truth and exposes it to the ridicule of the enemy. It is time for our ministers to understand the responsibility and sacredness of their mission. There is a woe upon them, if they fail of performing the work which they themselves acknowledge that God has placed in their hands.
Not a few ministers are neglecting the very work that they have been appointed to do. Why are those who are set apart for the work of the ministry placed on committees and boards? Why are they called upon to attend so many business meetings, many times at great distance from their fields of labor? Why are not business matters placed in the hands of businessmen? The ministers have not been set apart to do this work. The finances of the cause are to be properly managed by men of ability, but ministers are set apart for another line of work. Let the management of financial matters rest on others than those ordained to the ministry.
Ministers are not to be called hither and thither to attend board meetings for the purpose of deciding common business questions. Many of our ministers have done this work in the past, but it is not the work in which the Lord wishes them to engage. Too many financial burdens have been placed on them. When they try to carry these burdens, they neglect to fulfill the gospel commission. God looks upon this as a dishonor to His name.
The Lord's great vineyard demands from His servants that which it has not yet received-- earnest, persevering labor for souls. The ministry is becoming weak and enfeebled, and under its tame service the churches also are becoming weak. As the result of their labors the ministers have but little to show in the conversion of souls. The truth is not carried into the barren places of the earth. These things are depriving God of the glory that belongs to Him. He calls for workers who will be producers as well as consumers.
The world is to be warned. Ministers should work earnestly and devotedly, opening new fields and engaging in personal labor for souls, instead of hovering over the churches that already have great light and many advantages.
Let those who attend committee meetings remember that they are meeting with God, who has given them their work. Let them come together with reverence and consecration of heart. They meet to consider important matters connected with the Lord's cause. In every particular their actions are to show that they are desirous of understanding His will in regard to the plans to be laid for the advancement of His work. Let them not waste a moment in unimportant conversation; for the Lord's business should be conducted in a businesslike, perfect way. If some member of a committee is careless and irreverent, let him be reminded that he is in the presence of a Witness by whom all actions are weighed.
I have been instructed that committee meetings are not always pleasing to God. Some have come to these meetings with a cold, hard, critical, loveless spirit. Such may do great harm; for with them is the presence of the evil one, that keeps them on the wrong side. Not infrequently their unfeeling attitude toward measures under consideration brings in perplexity, delaying decisions that should be made. God's servants, in need of rest of mind, and sleep, have been greatly distressed and burdened over these matters. In the hope of reaching a decision, they continue their meetings far into the night. But life is too precious to be imperiled in this way. Let the Lord carry the burden. Wait for Him to adjust the difficulties. Give the weary brain a rest. Unreasonable hours are destructive to the physical, the mental, and the moral powers. If the brain were given proper periods of rest, the thoughts would be clear and sharp, and business would be expedited.
The Relation of Diet to Board Meetings
Before our brethren assemble in council or board meetings, each one should present himself before God, carefully searching the heart and critically examining the motives. Pray that the Lord may reveal self to you so that you may not unwisely criticize or condemn propositions.
At bountiful tables men often eat much more than can be easily digested. The overburdened stomach cannot do its work properly. The result is a disagreeable feeling of dullness in the brain, and the mind does not act quickly. Disturbance is created by improper combinations of food; fermentation sets in; the blood is contaminated and the brain confused.
The habit of overeating, or of eating too many kinds of food at one meal, frequently causes dyspepsia. Serious injury is thus done to the delicate digestive organs. In vain the stomach protests and appeals to the brain to reason from cause to effect. The excessive amount of food eaten, or the improper combination, does its injurious work. In vain do disagreeable premonitions give warning. Suffering is the consequence. Disease takes the place of health.
Some may ask, What has this to do with board meetings? Very much. The effects of wrong eating are brought into council and board meetings. The brain is affected by the condition of the stomach. A disordered stomach is productive of a disordered, uncertain state of mind. A diseased stomach produces a diseased condition of the brain and often makes one obstinate in maintaining erroneous opinions. The supposed wisdom of such a one is foolishness with God.
I present this as the cause of the situation in many council and board meetings, where questions demanding careful study have been given but little consideration, and decisions of the greatest importance have been hurriedly made. Often when there should have been unanimity of sentiment in the affirmative, decided negatives have entirely changed the atmosphere pervading a meeting. These results have been presented to me again and again.
I present these matters now because I am instructed to say to my brethren in the ministry: By intemperance in eating you disqualify yourselves for seeing clearly the difference between sacred and common fire. And by this intemperance you also reveal your disregard for the warnings that the Lord has given you. His word to you is: "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of Mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow." Isaiah 50:10, 11.
Shall we not draw near to the Lord, that He may save us from all intemperance in eating and drinking, from all unholy, lustful passion, all wickedness? Shall we not humble ourselves before God, putting away everything that corrupts the flesh and the spirit, that in His fear we may perfect holiness of character?
Let everyone who sits in council and committee meetings write in his heart the words: I am working for time and for eternity; and I am accountable to God for the motives that prompt me to action. Let this be his motto. Let the prayer of the psalmist be his prayer:
"Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil thing." Psalm 141:3, 4.
In counseling for the advancement of the work, no one man is to be a controlling power, a voice for the whole. Proposed methods and plans are to be carefully considered so that all the brethren may weigh their relative merits and decide which should be followed. In studying the fields to which duty seems to call us it is well to take into account the difficulties that will be encountered in these fields.
So far as possible, committees should let the people understand their plans in order that the judgment of the church may sustain their efforts. Many of the church members are prudent and have other excellent qualities of mind. Their interest should be aroused in the progress of the cause. Many may be led to have a deeper insight into the work of God and to seek for wisdom from above to extend Christ's kingdom by saving souls perishing for the word of life. Men and women of noble minds will yet be added to the number of those of whom it is said: "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, . . . that ye should go and bring forth fruit." John 15:16.
In dealing with erring church members, God's people are carefully to follow the instruction given by the Saviour in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew.
Human beings are Christ's property, purchased by Him at an infinite price, bound to Him by the love that He and His Father have manifested for them. How careful, then, we should be in our dealing with one another! Men have no right to surmise evil in regard to their fellow men. Church members have no right to follow their own impulses and inclinations in dealing with fellow members who have erred. They should not even express their prejudices regarding the erring, for thus they place in other minds the leaven of evil. Reports unfavorable to a brother or sister in the church are communicated from one to an other of the church members. Mistakes are made and in justice is done because of an unwillingness on the part of some one to follow the directions given by the Lord Jesus.
"If thy brother shall trespass against thee," Christ declared, "go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone." Matthew 18:15. Do not tell others of the wrong. One person is told, then another, and still another; and continually the report grows, and the evil increases, till the whole church is made to suffer. Settle the matter "between thee and him alone." This is God's plan. "Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbor hath put thee to shame. Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself; and discover not a secret to another." Proverbs 25:8, 9. Do not suffer sin upon your brother; but do not expose him, and thus increase the difficulty, making the reproof seem like a revenge. Correct him in the way outlined in the word of God.
Do not suffer resentment to ripen into malice. Do not allow the wound to fester and break out in poisoned words, which taint the minds of those who hear. Do not allow bitter thoughts to continue to fill your mind and his. Go to your brother, and in humility and sincerity talk with him about the matter.
Whatever the character of the offense, this does not change the plan that God has made for the settlement of misunderstandings and personal injuries. Speaking alone and in the spirit of Christ to the one who is in fault will often remove the difficulty. Go to the erring one, with a heart filled with Christ's love and sympathy, and seek to adjust the matter. Reason with him calmly and quietly. Let no angry words escape your lips. Speak in a way that will appeal to his better judgment. Remember the words: "He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." James 5:20.
Take to your brother the remedy that will cure the disease of disaffection. Do your part to help him. For the sake of the peace and unity of the church, feel it a privilege as well as a duty to do this. If he will hear you, you have gained him as a friend.
All heaven is interested in the interview between the one who has been injured and the one who is in error. As the erring one accepts the reproof offered in the love of Christ, and acknowledges his wrong, asking forgiveness from God and from his brother, the sunshine of heaven fills his heart. The controversy is ended; friendship and confidence are restored. The oil of love removes the soreness caused by the wrong. The Spirit of God binds heart to heart, and there is music in heaven over the union brought about.
As those thus united in Christian fellowship offer prayer to God and pledge themselves to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God, great blessing comes to them. If they have wronged others they continue the work of repentance, confession, and restitution, fully set to do good to one another. This is the fulfilling of the law of Christ.
"But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." Matthew 18:16. Take with you those who are spiritually minded, and talk with the one in error in regard to the wrong. He may yield to the united appeals of his brethren. As he sees their agreement in the matter, his mind may be enlightened.
"And if he shall neglect to hear them," what then shall be done? Shall a few persons in a board meeting take upon themselves the responsibility of disfellowshiping the erring one? "If he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church." Verse 17. Let the church take action in regard to its members.
"But if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." Verse 17. If he will not heed the voice of the church, if he refuses all the efforts made to reclaim him, upon the church rests the responsibility of separating him from fellowship. His name should then be stricken from the books.
No church officer should advise, no committee should recommend, nor should any church vote, that the name of a wrongdoer shall be removed from the church books, until the instruction given by Christ has been faithfully followed. When this instruction has been followed, the church has cleared herself before God. The evil must then be made to appear as it is, and must be removed, that it may not become more and more widespread. The health and purity of the church must be preserved, that she may stand before God unsullied, clad in the robes of Christ's righteousness.
If the erring one repents and submits to Christ's discipline, he is to be given another trial. And even if he does not repent, even if he stands outside the church, God's servants still have a work to do for him. They are to seek earnestly to win him to repentance. And, however aggravated may have been his offense, if he yields to the striving of the Holy Spirit and, by confessing and forsaking his sin, gives evidence of repentance, he is to be forgiven and welcomed to the fold again. His brethren are to encourage him in the right way, treating him as they would wish to be treated were they in his place, considering themselves lest they also be tempted.
"Verily I say unto you," Christ continued, "whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Verse 18.
This statement holds its force in all ages. On the church has been conferred the power to act in Christ's stead. It is God's instrumentality for the preservation of order and discipline among His people. To it the Lord has delegated the power to settle all questions respecting its prosperity, purity, and order. Upon it rests the responsibility of excluding from its fellowship those who are unworthy, who by their un-Christlike conduct would bring dishonor on the truth. Whatever the church does that is in accordance with the directions given in God's word will be ratified in heaven.
Matters of grave import come up for settlement by the church. God's ministers, ordained by Him as guides of His people, after doing their part are to submit the whole matter to the church, that there may be unity in the decision made.
The Lord desires His followers to exercise great care in dealing with one another. They are to lift up, to restore, to heal. But there is to be in the church no neglect of proper discipline. The members are to regard themselves as pupils in a school, learning how to form characters worthy of their high calling. In the church here below, God's children are to be prepared for the great reunion in the church above. Those who here live in harmony with Christ may look forward to an endless life in the family of the redeemed.
God's love for the fallen race is a peculiar manifestation of love--a love born of mercy, for human beings are all undeserving. Mercy implies imperfection of the object toward which it is shown. It is because of sin that mercy was brought into active exercise.
It may be that much work needs to be done in your character building, that you are a rough stone, which must be squared and polished before it can fill a place in God's temple. You need not be surprised if with hammer and chisel God cuts away the sharp corners of your character until you are prepared to fill the place He has for you. No human being can accomplish this work. Only by God can it be done. And be assured that He will not strike one useless blow. His every blow is struck in love, for your eternal happiness. He knows your infirmities and works to restore, not to destroy.
"Consider One Another"
You will often meet with souls that are under the stress of temptation. You know not how severely Satan may be wrestling with them. Beware lest you discourage such souls and thus give the tempter an advantage.
Whenever you see or hear something that needs to be corrected, seek the Lord for wisdom and grace, that in trying to be faithful you may not be severe.
It is always humiliating to have one's errors pointed out. Do not make the experience more bitter by needless censure. Unkind criticism brings discouragement, making life sunless and unhappy.
My brethren, prevail by love rather than by severity. When one at fault becomes conscious of his error, be careful not to destroy his self-respect. Do not seek to bruise and wound, but rather to bind up and heal.
No human being possesses sensibilities so acute or a nature so refined as does our Saviour. And what patience He manifests toward us. Year after year He bears with our weakness and ignorance, with our ingratitude and waywardness. Notwithstanding all our wanderings, our hardness of heart, our neglect of His holy words, His hand is stretched out still. And He bids us: "Love one another; as I have loved you." John 13:34.
Brethren, regard yourselves as missionaries, not among heathen, but among your fellow workers. It requires a vast amount of time and labor to convince one soul in regard to the special truths for this time. And when souls are turned from sin to righteousness, there is joy in the presence of the angels. Think you that the ministering spirits who watch over these souls are pleased to see how indifferently they are treated by many who claim to be Christians? Man's preferences rule. Partiality is manifested. One is favored, while another is treated harshly.
The angels look with awe and amazement upon the mission of Christ to the world. They marvel at the love that moved Him to give Himself a sacrifice for the sins of men. But how lightly human beings regard the purchase of His blood!
We need not begin by trying to love one another. The love of Christ in the heart is what is needed. When self is submerged in Christ, true love springs forth spontaneously.
In patient forbearance we shall conquer. It is patience in service that brings rest to the soul. It is through humble, diligent, faithful toilers that the welfare of Israel is promoted. A word of love and encouragement will do more to subdue the hasty temper and willful disposition than all the faultfinding and censure that you can heap upon the erring one.
The Master's message must be declared in the Master's spirit. Our only safety is in keeping our thoughts and impulses under the control of the Great Teacher. Angels of God will give to every true worker a rich experience in doing this. The grace of humility will mold our words into expressions of Christlike tenderness.
My Dear Brethren and Sisters: The Lord will work in behalf of all who will walk humbly with Him. He has placed you in a position of trust. Walk carefully before Him. God's hand is on the wheel. He will guide the ship past the rocks into the haven. He will take the weak things of this world to confound the things that are mighty.
I pray that you will make God your Counselor. You are not amenable to any man, but are under God's direction. Keep close to Him. Do not take worldly ideas as your criterion. Let there be no departure from the Lord's methods of working. Use not common fire, but the sacred fire of the Lord's kindling.
Be of good courage in your work. For many years I have kept before our people the need, in the education of the youth, of an equal taxation of the physical and mental powers. But for those who have never proved the value of the instruction given to combine manual training with the study of books, it is hard to understand and carry out the directions given.
Do your best to impart to your students the blessings God has given you. With a deep, earnest desire to help them, carry them over the ground of knowledge. Come close to them. Unless teachers have the love and gentleness of Christ abounding in their hearts, they will manifest too much of the spirit of a harsh, domineering master.
The Lord wishes you to learn how to use the gospel net. That you may be successful in your work, the meshes of your net must be close. The application of the Scriptures must be such that the meaning shall be easily discerned. Then make the most of drawing in the net. Come right to the point. However great a man's knowledge, it is of no avail unless he is able to communicate it to others. Let the pathos of your voice, its deep feeling, make an impression on hearts. Urge your students to surrender themselves to God. "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." Jude 21-23. As you follow Christ's example you will have the precious reward of seeing your students won to Him.
The Lord God of Israel is hungry for fruit. He calls upon His workers to branch out more than they are doing. He desires them to make the world their field of labor rather than to work only for our churches. The apostle Paul went from place to place, preaching the truth to those in the darkness of error. He labored for a year and six months at Corinth, and proved the divine character of his mission by raising up a flourishing church, composed of Jews and Gentiles. Christ never confined His labors to one place. The towns and cities of Palestine resounded with the truths that fell from His lips.
The Sermon on the Mount is heaven's benediction to the world, a voice from the throne of God. It was given to mankind to be to them the law of duty and the light of heaven, their hope and consolation in despondency. Here the Prince of preachers, the Master Teacher, utters the words that the Father gave Him to speak.
The Beatitudes are Christ's greeting, not only to those who believe, but to the whole human family. He seems to have forgotten for a moment that He is in the world, not in heaven; and He uses the familiar salutation of the world of light. Blessings flow from His lips as the gushing forth of a long-sealed current of rich life.
Christ leaves us in no doubt as to the traits of character that He will always recognize and bless. From the ambitious favorites of the world He turns to those whom they disown, pronouncing all blessed who receive His light and life. To the poor in spirit, the meek, the lowly, the sorrowful, the despised, the persecuted, He opens His arms of refuge, saying: "Come unto Me, . . . and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.
Christ can look on the misery of the world without a shade of sorrow for having created man. In the human heart He sees more than sin, more than misery. In His infinite wisdom and love He sees man's possibilities, the height to which he may attain. He knows that, even though human beings have abused their mercies and destroyed their God-given dignity, yet the Creator is to be glorified in their redemption.
The Sermon on the Mount is an example of how we are to teach. What pains Christ has taken to make mysteries no longer mysteries, but plain, simple truths! There is in His instruction nothing vague, nothing hard to understand.
"He opened His mouth, and taught them." Matthew 5:2. His words were spoken in no whispered tones, nor was His utterance harsh and disagreeable. He spoke with clearness and emphasis, with solemn, convincing force.
"And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." Matthew 7:28, 29.
An earnest, prayerful study of the Sermon on the Mount will prepare us to proclaim the truth, to give to others the light we have received. We are first to take heed to ourselves, receiving with humble hearts the principles of truth and working them out in perfect obedience. This will bring joy and peace. Thus we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God, and we grow strong in His strength. Our lives are assimilated to His life. Our spirit, our inclinations, our habits, are conformed to the will of Him of whom God declared: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17.
Throughout all time the words that Christ spoke from the mount of Beatitudes will retain their power. Every sentence is a jewel from the treasure house of truth. The principles enunciated in this discourse are for all ages and for all classes of men. With divine energy Christ expressed His faith and hope as He pointed out class after class as blessed because of having formed righteous characters. Living the life of the Life-giver, through faith in Him, everyone can reach the standard held up in His words. Is not such an attainment worth lifelong, untiring effort?
We are nearing the close of this earth's history. We have before us a great work, the closing work of giving the last warning message to a sinful world. There are men who will be taken from the plow, from the vineyard, from various other branches of work, and sent forth by the Lord to give this message to the world.
The world is out of joint. As we look at the picture, the outlook seems discouraging. But Christ greets with hopeful assurance the very men and women who cause us discouragement. In them He sees qualifications that will enable them to take a place in His vineyard. If they will constantly be learners, through His providence He will make them men and women fitted to do a work that is not beyond their capabilities; through the impartation of the Holy Spirit He will give them power of utterance.
Many of the barren, unworked fields must be entered by beginners. The brightness of the Saviour's view of the world will inspire confidence in many workers, who, if they begin in humility, and put their hearts into the work, will be found to be the right men for the time and place. Christ sees all the misery and despair of the world, the sight of which would bow down some of our workers of large capabilities with a weight of discouragement so great that they would not know how even to begin the work of leading men and women to the first round of the ladder. Their precise methods are of little value. They would stand above the lower rounds of the ladder, saying: "Come up where we are." But the poor souls do not know where to put their feet.
Christ's heart is cheered by the sight of those who are poor in every sense of the term; cheered by His view of the ill-used ones who are meek; cheered by the seemingly unsatisfied hungering after righteousness, by the inability of many to begin. He welcomes, as it were, the very condition of things that would discourage many ministers. He corrects our erring piety, giving the burden of the work for the poor and needy in the rough places of the earth to men and women who have hearts that can feel for the ignorant and for those that are out of the way. The Lord teaches these workers how to meet those whom He wishes them to help. They will be encouraged as they see doors opening for them to enter places where they can do medical missionary work. Having little self-confidence, they give God all the glory. Their hands may be rough and unskilled, but their hearts are susceptible to pity; they are filled with an earnest desire to do something to relieve the woe so abundant; and Christ is present to help them. He works through those who discern mercy in misery, gain in the loss of all things. When the Light of the world passes by, privileges appear in all hardships, order in confusion, the success and wisdom of God in that which has seemed to be failure.
My brethren and sisters, in your ministry come close to the people. Uplift those who are cast down. Treat of calamities as disguised blessings, of woes as mercies. Work in a way that will cause hope to spring up in the place of despair.
The common people are to take their place as workers. Sharing the sorrows of their fellow men as the Saviour shared the sorrows of humanity, they will by faith see Him working with them.
"The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly." Zephaniah 1:14. To every worker I would say: Go forth in humble faith, and the Lord will go with you. But watch unto prayer. This is the science of your labor. The power is of God. Work in dependence upon Him, remembering that you are laborers together with Him. He is your Helper. Your strength is from Him. He will be your wisdom, your righteousness, your sanctification, your redemption. Wear the yoke of Christ, daily learning of Him His meekness and lowliness. He will be your Comfort, your Rest.
Power from on High
As the divine endowment--the power of the Holy Spirit--was given to the disciples, so it will today be given to all who seek aright. This power alone is able to make us wise unto salvation and to fit us for the courts above. Christ wants to give us a blessing that will make us holy. "These things have I spoken unto you," He says, "that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." John 15:11. Joy in the Holy Spirit is health-giving, life-giving joy. In giving us His Spirit, God gives us Himself, making Himself a fountain of divine influences, to give health and life to the world.
As God so liberally bestows His gifts on you, remember that it is in order that you may return them to the Giver, multiplied by being imparted. Bring into the lives of others light and joy and peace. Every day we need the discipline of self-humiliation, that we may be prepared to receive the heavenly gift, not to hoard it, not to rob God's children of His blessing, but to give it in all its rich fullness to others. When more than now shall we need a heart open to receive, aching, as it were, with its longing to impart?
We are in duty bound to draw largely from the treasure house of divine knowledge. God wants us to receive much, in order that we may impart much. He desires us to be channels through which He can impart richly of His grace to the world.
Let sincerity and faith characterize your prayers. The Lord is willing to do for us "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." Ephesians 3:20. Talk it; pray it. Do not talk unbelief. We cannot afford to let Satan see that he has power to darken our countenances and sadden our lives.
Pray in faith. And be sure to bring your lives into harmony with your petitions, that you may receive the blessings for which you pray. Let not your faith weaken, for the blessings received are proportionate to the faith exercised. "According to your faith be it unto you." "All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." Matthew 9:29; 21:22. Pray, believe, rejoice. Sing praises to God because He has answered your prayers. Take Him at His word. "He is faithful that promised." Hebrews 10:23. Not one sincere supplication is lost. The channel is open; the stream is flowing. It carries with it healing properties, pouring forth a restoring current of life and health and salvation.
To every teacher is given the sacred privilege of representing Christ. And as teachers strive to do this, they may cherish the reassuring conviction that the Saviour is close beside them, giving them words to speak for Him, pointing out ways in which they can show forth His excellence.
Teachers meet with many trials. Discouragements press upon them as they see that their efforts are not always appreciated by their pupils. Satan strives to afflict them with bodily infirmities, hoping to lead them to murmur against God, to forget His goodness, His mercy, His love, and the exceeding weight of glory that awaits the overcomer. Let them remember that by trial God is leading them to more perfect confidence in Him. His eye is ever upon them, and if in their perplexity they look to Him in faith, He will bring them forth from the furnace refined and purified as gold tried in the fire. He permits trials to come to them to draw them nearer to Him, but He lays on them no burden greater than they are able to bear. And He declares: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Hebrews 13:5. He is always ready to deliver those who trust in Him. Let the hard-pressed, sorely tried teacher say: "Though He slay Me, yet will I trust in Him." "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Job 13:15; Habakkuk 3:17, 18.
Students, co-operate with your teachers. As you do this you give them hope and courage. You are helping them, and at the same time you are helping yourselves to advance. Remember that it rests largely with you whether your teachers stand on vantage ground, their work an acknowledged success.
In the highest sense you are to be learners, seeing God behind the teacher, and the teacher co-operating with Him.
Your opportunities for work are fast passing. You have no time to spend in self-pleasing. Only as you strive earnestly to succeed will you gain true happiness. Precious are the opportunities offered you during the time you spend in school. Make your student life as perfect as possible. You will pass over the way but once. And it rests with you yourself whether your work shall be a success or a failure. As you succeed in gaining a knowledge of the Bible you are storing up treasures to impart.
If you have a fellow student who is backward, explain to him the lesson that he does not understand. This will aid your own understanding. Use simple words; state your ideas in language that is clear and easy to be understood.
By helping your fellow student, you help your teachers.
And often one whose mind is apparently stolid will catch ideas more quickly from a fellow student than from a teacher.
This is the co-operation that Christ commends. The Great Teacher stands beside you, helping you to help the one who is backward.
In your school life you may have opportunity to tell the poor and ignorant of the wonderful truths of God's word. Improve every such opportunity. The Lord will bless every moment spent in this way.
We are living in a time when Satan is working with all his power to discourage and defeat those who are laboring in God's service. But we must not fail nor be discouraged. We must exercise greater faith in God. We must trust His living word. Unless we have a firmer hold from above, we shall never be able to cope with the powers of darkness that will be seen and felt in every department of the work.
Earth's cisterns will often be empty, its pools become dry; but in Christ there is a living spring from which we may continually draw. However much we draw and give to others, an abundance will remain. There is no danger of exhausting the supply; for Christ is the inexhaustible wellspring of truth.
The ethics inculcated by the gospel acknowledge no standard but the perfection of God's mind, God's will. All righteous attributes of character dwell in God as a perfect, harmonious whole. Everyone who receives Christ as his personal Saviour is privileged to possess these attributes. This is the science of holiness.
For years a lack of wisdom has been shown in dealing with men who take up and carry forward the Lord's work in difficult places. Often these men labor far beyond their strength. They have little money to invest for the advancement of the work, and they are obliged to sacrifice in order to carry the work forward. They work for small wages and practice the strictest economy. They make appeals to the people for means, and they themselves set an example of liberality. They give God the praise for what is done, realizing that He is the Author and the Finisher of their faith, and that it is by His power that they are enabled to make progress.
Sometimes, after these workers have borne the burden and the heat of the day, and by patient, persevering effort have established a school or a sanitarium, or some other interest for the advancement of the work, the decision is made by their brethren that some other man might do better, and therefore that he is to take charge of the work they have been doing. In some cases the decision is made without giving due consideration and due credit to those who have borne the disagreeable part of the work, who have labored and prayed and striven, putting into their efforts all their strength and energy.
God is not pleased with this way of dealing with His workers. He calls upon His people to hold up the hands of those who build up the work in new, difficult places, speaking to them words of cheer and encouragement.
In their ardor, their zeal for the advancement of the cause, these workers may make mistakes. They may, in their desire to get means for the support of needy enterprises, enter into projects that are not for the best good of the work. The Lord, seeing that these projects would divert them from what He desires them to do, permits disappointment to come upon them, crushing their hopes. Money is sacrificed, and this is a great grief to those who had fondly hoped to gain means for the support of the cause.
While the workers were straining every nerve to raise means to help them over an emergency, some of their brethren were standing by, criticizing, and surmising evil, putting a prejudicial construction on the motives of the heavily burdened laborers, and making their work more difficult. Blinded by selfishness, these faultfinders did not discern that their brethren were sufficiently afflicted without the censure of men who had not borne heavy burdens and responsibilities. Disappointment is a great trial, but Christian love can turn the defeat into victory. Reverses will teach caution. We learn by the things we suffer. Thus we gain experience.
Let care and wisdom be shown in dealing with workers who, though they have made mistakes, have manifested an earnest, self-sacrificing interest in the work. Let their brethren say: "We will not make matters worse by putting another in your place, without giving you opportunity to retrieve your mistake, and to stand on vantage ground, free from the burden of unjust criticism." Let them be given time to adjust themselves, to overcome the difficulties surrounding them, and to stand before angels and men as worthy workers. They have made mistakes, but would those who have questioned and criticized have done better? To the accusing Pharisees Christ said: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone." John 8:7.
There are those who are premature in their desire to reform things that to them appear faulty. They think that they should be chosen to take the place of those who have made mistakes. They undervalue what these workers have done while others were looking on and criticizing. By their actions they say: "I can do great things. I can carry the work forward successfully." To those who think they know so well how to avoid mistakes, I am instructed to say: "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Matthew 7:1. You might avoid mistakes on some points, but on other things you are liable to make grave blunders, which would be very difficult to remedy and which would bring confusion into the work. These mistakes might do more harm than those your brethren have made.
The instruction given me is that the men who lay the foundation of a work, and who, in the face of prejudice, fight their way forward, are not to be placed in an unfavorable light in order that others may take their places. There are earnest workers who, in spite of the criticisms of some of their brethren, have moved forward in the work that God said should be done. Should they now be removed from their position of responsibility, an impression would be made that would be unjust to them and unfavorable to the work, because the changes made would be looked upon as a justification of the unjust criticisms made and the prejudice existing. The Lord desires that no move shall be made which would do injustice to those who have labored long and earnestly to build up the work given them.
Many changes are made that might better never be made. Often, when workers become discontented, instead of being encouraged to stay where they are and make a success of their work, they are sent to another place. But they take with them the same traits of character that in the past have marred their work. They will manifest the same un-Christlike spirit, for they have not learned the lesson of patient, humble service.
I plead for a different order of things. Changes must be made in the groups of workers in our conferences and institutions. Men of efficiency and consecration must be sought for and encouraged to connect with the burden bearers as helpers and colaborers. Let there be a harmonious union of the new and the old, in the spirit of brotherly love. But let not changes of management be made abruptly in such a way as to bring discouragement to those who have labored earnestly and successfully to bring the work to a degree of progress. God will not sanction anything done to discourage His faithful servants. Let the principles of justice be followed by those whose duty it is to secure the most efficient management for our publishing houses, our sanitariums, and our schools.
A Call to Service
God calls for workers. The cause needs men who are self-made, who, placing themselves in the hands of the Lord as humble learners, have proved themselves workers together with Him. These are the men that are needed in the ministry and in the school work. Let those who have shown themselves to be men move out and do what they can in the Master's service. Let them step into the ranks of workers and by patient, continuous effort prove their worth. It is in the water, not on the land, that we learn to swim. Let them fill with fidelity the place to which they are called, that they may become qualified to bear still higher responsibilities. God gives all opportunity to perfect themselves in His service.
He who puts on the armor to war a good warfare will gain greater and still greater ability as he strives to perfect his knowledge of God, working in harmony with the plan God has laid down for the perfect development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers.
Young men and young women, gather a stock of knowledge. Do not wait until some human examination pronounces you competent to work, but go out into the highways and hedges, and begin to work for God. Use wisely the knowledge you have. Exercise your ability with faithfulness, generously imparting the light that God gives you. Study how best to give to others peace and light and truth and the many other rich blessings of heaven. Constantly improve. Keep reaching higher and still higher. It is the ability to put to the tax the powers of mind and body, ever keeping eternal realities in view, that is of value now. Seek the Lord most earnestly, that you may become more and more refined, more spiritually cultured. Then you will have the very best diploma that anyone can have--the endorsement of God.
However large, however small, your talents, remember that what you have is yours only in trust. Thus God is testing you, giving you opportunity to prove yourself true. To Him you are indebted for all your capabilities. To Him belong your powers of body, mind, and soul, and for Him these powers are to be used. Your time, your influence, your capabilities, your skill --all must be accounted for to Him who gives all. He uses his gifts best who seeks by earnest endeavor to carry out the Lord's great plan for the uplifting of humanity, remembering always that he must be a learner as well as a teacher.
As young men go out into this work and, in spite of many difficulties, make a success, let not propositions be made that they take up another work and that the work they have started be given into the charge of men who are older and more experienced. As our young men struggle with difficulties, they may make mistakes; but if they press forward perseveringly, their defeats will be turned into victories.
My fellow workers, persevere in the work that you have begun. Keep at it until you gain victory after victory. Educate yourselves for a purpose. Keep in view the highest standard, that you may accomplish greater and still greater good, thus reflecting the glory of God.
God has endowed some of His servants with special talents, and no one is called upon to disparage their excellence. But let none use their talents to exalt self. Let them not regard themselves as favored above their fellow men, nor exalt themselves above other sincere, earnest workers. The Lord looks upon the heart. He who is most devoted to God's service is most highly esteemed by the heavenly universe.
Heaven is watching to see how those occupying positions of influence fulfill their stewardship. The demands upon them as stewards are measured by the extent of their influence. In their treatment of their fellow men they should be as fathers, just, tender, true. They should be Christlike in character, uniting with their brethren in the closest bonds of unity and fellowship.
The perplexing question of means has troubled many. Again and again, by his deceitful, alluring projects, Satan has blocked the way against advance. The church has not stood in dependence upon God, but, yielding to the temptations of the enemy, has tried to carry out plans that called for means far exceeding her revenue. Much money has been invested in a few places. This has deprived missionary fields of the help they should have received. In building up the work in their part of the field, men have followed selfish plans and have drawn means from the Lord's treasury, forgetting that all the revenue is the Lord's and that other parts of His vineyard must be supplied. For reasons that they will not be pleased to meet in the judgment, they closed their eyes to the needs of their fellow workers. Thus destitute fields have been left unworked. By rushing on to erect large buildings, without counting the cost, without taking into consideration how much would be needed to build the tower, men have brought debt, discouragement, and confusion upon the cause. The way of progress in new fields has been hedged up.
A kind of frenzy has taken hold of the minds of some, leading them to do that which would absorb means without any prospect of afterward producing means. Had this money been used in the way the Lord signified it should be, workers would have been raised up and prepared to do the work that must be done before the coming of the Lord. The misappropriation of means shows the need of the Lord's warning that His work must not be bound about by human projects, that it must be done in a way that will strengthen His cause.
By working on wrong plans, men have brought debts upon the cause. Let not this be repeated. Let those at the head of the work move cautiously, refusing to bury the cause of God in debt. Let no one move recklessly, heedlessly, thinking, without knowing, that all will be well.
Undue excitement and interest in the work in one place contribute nothing to the advancement of the work as a whole. When plans are laid to erect a building in one place, give careful consideration to other places that are in just as great need of money for the erection of needful buildings. Time is short, and while buildings must be erected, let this be done with due consideration for all parts of the Lord's vineyard. Let the one who has charge of the building be a man of sound, sanctified mind, not one who, in his anxiety to erect a fine piece of architecture, will bring perplexity upon the work by expensive investment.
God is not the author of confusion, but of order and progress. Let those who desire to advance His kingdom make haste slowly and build intelligently. Let no one rush on with a stumbling supposition that means must be invested to make a display. Thus saith the Lord: Means must not be so expended, for it is at the expense of souls."
The result of selfish management stands before us today as a representation of the wisdom of men whose minds and hearts needed the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Lord has many ways of trying and proving those who claim to be Christians. With unmistakable accuracy He has traced the results of human wisdom, showing those who have thought they were doing great things that they need to review the past; that they need to see that they were not actuated by the Holy Spirit, but that in many things they refused the counsel of the Lord. Had they taken up this self-examination at the beginning of their work, as the Lord directed them to do, years of God-dishonoring service would have been changed into a service of love. Every heart in every household needs to take up the work of self-examination, else some will find, as did Saul, that they are appointed to destruction. Especially is this applicable to men in positions of responsibility. Saith the Lord: "I will not serve with any selfish devising." Everyone needs now to seek the Lord. God's people will not endure the test unless there is a revival and a reformation. The Lord will not admit into the mansions He is preparing for the righteous, one soul who is self-sufficient.
Under no circumstances should our people in any land put all their means into one great, expensive medical institution. To bring together a large number of people in one place is not favorable to the securing of the best results in physical or in spiritual restoration. And besides this, to establish such an institution would be to rob other places where health institutions should be established. Wherever we work, some will desire to secure as much means as possible, in order to erect a large building; but this is not the wisest plan. When planning for an institution in one place, we should keep in mind the needs of other places. Let economy be practiced so that it will be possible to give the people in other sections of the country similar advantages.
Our Aged Pioneer Workers
To the aged pioneer laborers who have been connected with the work of the third angel's message almost from its beginning, whose experiences in it dates nearly from the passing of the time in 1844, the Lord says: "Your help is needed. Do not take upon yourselves loads that others who are younger can carry. It is your duty to be careful in your habits of life. You are to be wise in the use of your physical, mental, and spiritual strength. You who have passed through so many and such varied experiences are to do all that it is possible for you to do to preserve your powers, that you may labor for the Lord as long as He permits you to stand in your lot and place to help to advance His work."
With John, these burden bearers can say: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. . . . This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John 1:1-7.
The cause needs the help of the old hands, the aged workers, who have had years of experience in the cause of God; who have watched the development and the progress of the message in its various lines; who have seen many go into fanaticism, cherishing the delusion of false theories, resisting all the efforts made to let the light of truth reveal the superstitions that were coming in to confuse minds and to make of none effect the message which in these last days must be given in its purity to God's remnant people.
Many of the tried servants of God have fallen asleep in Jesus. Let the help of those who are left alive to this day be appreciated. Let their testimony be valued. The good hand of the Lord has been with these faithful workers. He will uphold them by His strong arm, saying: "Lean on Me. I will be your strength and your exceeding great reward." Those who were in the message at its beginning, who fought bravely when the battle went hard, must not lose their hold now.
The most tender interest should be cherished toward those whose life interest is bound up with the work of God. Notwithstanding their many infirmities, these workers still possess talents that qualify them to stand in their lot and place. God desires them to occupy leading positions in His work. They have stood faithful amidst storm and trial, and are among our most valuable counselors. How thankful we should be that they can still use their gifts in the Lord's service!
Let not the fact be lost sight of that in the past these earnest wrestlers sacrificed everything to advance the work. The fact that they have grown old and gray in the service of God is no reason why they should cease to exert an influence superior to the influence of men who have far less knowledge of the work and far less experience in divine things. Though worn and unable to bear the heavier burdens that younger men can and should carry, their value as counselors is of the highest order. They have made mistakes, but they have learned wisdom from their failures; they have learned to avoid errors and dangers, and are they not then competent to give wise counsel? They have borne test and trial, and, though they have lost some of their vigor, they are not to be pushed aside by less-experienced workers, who know very little about the labor and self-sacrifice of these pioneers. The Lord does not thus lay them aside. He gives them special grace and knowledge.
When John was old and gray-headed, he was given a message to bear to the persecuted churches. The Jews made several attempts to take his life, but the Lord said: "Let him live. I who created him will be with him and will guard him." Constantly this aged disciple bore testimony for the Master. In beautiful language, with a musical voice, speaking in a way that impressed the hearts of all who heard him, he told of the words and works of Christ. He was sent as an exile to Patmos, but Christ visited him in his exile, and communicated to him the grand truths found in the Revelation.
As those who have spent their lives in the service of God draw near the close of their earthly history, they will be impressed by the Holy Spirit to recount the experiences they have had in connection with His work. The record of His wonderful dealings with His people, of His great goodness in delivering them from trial, should be repeated to those newly come to the faith. The trials also that have been brought on the servants of God by the apostasy of some once united with them in labor, and the working of the Holy Spirit to make of none effect the falsehoods told against those who were holding the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end, should be related.
The old standard-bearers who are still living should not be put in hard places. Those who served their Master when the work went hard, who endured poverty and remained faithful to the truth when our numbers were small, are ever to be honored and respected. I am instructed to say: Let every believer respect the aged pioneers who have borne trials and hardships and many privations. They are God's workmen and have acted a prominent part in the building up of His Work.
The Lord desires the younger laborers to gain wisdom, strength, and maturity by association with the aged laborers who have been spared to the cause. Let the younger men realize that, in having such laborers among them, they are highly favored. Let them show great respect for the men of gray hairs, who have had long experience in the development of the work. Let them give them an honored place in their councils. God desires those who have come into the truth in later years to take heed to these words.
May the Lord bless and sustain our old and tried laborers. May He help them to be wise in regard to the preservation of their physical, mental, and spiritual powers. I have been instructed by the Lord to say to those who bore their testimony in the early days of the message: "God has endowed you with the power of reason, and He desires you to understand and obey the laws that have to do with the health of the being. Do not be imprudent. Do not overwork. Take time to rest. God desires you to stand in your lot and place, doing your part to save men and women from being swept downward by the mighty current of evil. He desires you to keep the armor on till He bids you lay it off. Not long hence you will receive your reward."
Care for Workers
Some provision should be made for the care of ministers and others of God's faithful servants who through exposure or overwork in His cause have become ill and need rest and restoration, or who through age or loss of health are no longer able to bear the burden and heat of the day. Ministers are often appointed to a field of labor that they know will be detrimental to their health; but, unwilling to shun trying places, they venture, hoping to be a help and a blessing to the people. After a time they find their health failing. A change of climate and of work is tried, without bringing relief; and then what are they to do?
These faithful laborers, who for Christ's sake have given up worldly prospects, choosing poverty rather than pleasure or riches; who, forgetful of self, have labored earnestly to win souls to Christ; who have given liberally to advance various enterprises in the cause of God, and have then sunk down in the battle, wearied and ill, and with no means of support, must not be left to struggle on in poverty and suffering, or to feel that they are paupers. When sickness or infirmity comes upon them, let not our workers be burdened with the anxious query: "What will become of my wife and little ones, now that I can no longer labor and supply their necessities?" It is but just that provision be made to meet the needs of these faithful laborers and the needs of those who are dependent on them.
Generous provision is made for veterans who have fought for their country. These men bear the scars and lifelong infirmities that tell of their perilous conflicts, their forced marches, their exposure to storms, their suffering in prison. All these evidences of their loyalty and self-sacrifice give them a just claim upon the nation they have helped to save--a claim that is recognized and honored. But what provision have Seventh-day Adventists made for the soldiers of Christ?
Our people have not felt as they should the necessity of this matter, and it has therefore been neglected. The churches have been thoughtless, and, though the light of the word of God has been shining upon their pathway, they have neglected this most sacred duty. The Lord is greatly displeased with this neglect of His faithful servants. Our people should be as willing to assist these persons when in adverse circumstances as they have been willing to accept their means and services when in health.
God has laid upon us the obligation of giving special attention to the poor among us. But these ministers and workers are not to be ranked with the poor. They have laid up for themselves a treasure in the heavens that faileth not. They have served the conference in its necessity, and now the conference is to serve them. When cases of this kind come before us, we are not to pass by on the other side. We are not to say, "Be ye warmed and filled" (James 2:16), and then take no active measures to supply their necessities. This has been done in the past, and thus in some cases Seventh-day Adventists have dishonored their profession of faith and have given the world opportunity to reproach the cause of God.
Providing Homes for Workers
It is now the duty of God's people to roll back this reproach by providing these servants of God with comfortable homes, with a few acres of land on which they can raise their own produce and feel that they are not dependent on the charities of their brethren. With what pleasure and peace would these worn laborers look to a quiet little home where their just claims to its rest would be recognized!
The duty we owe to these persons has been referred to again and again, but no decided action has been taken in reference to it. As a people we should feel our responsibility in this matter. Every church member should feel an interest in all that concerns the human brotherhood and the brotherhood in Christ. We are members one of another; if one member suffers, all the members suffer with him. Something must be done, and the conference should have spiritual discernment, that they may understand the privileges and comforts that these worn-out workers need and deserve.
Often these ministers need special care and treatment. Our sanitariums should be a refuge for such and for all our worn workers who need rest. Rooms should be provided where they can have a change and rest, without continual anxiety as to how they are to meet the expense. When the disciples were worn with labor, Christ said to them: "Come ye yourselves apart, . . . and rest awhile." Mark 6:31. He would have arrangements made whereby His servants now may have opportunity to rest and recover strength. Our sanitariums are to be open to our hard-working ministers, who have done all in their power to secure funds for the erection and support of these institutions, and at any time when they are in need of the advantages here offered they should be made to feel at home.
These workers should not at any time be charged a high price for board and treatment, neither should they be regarded as beggars, or in any way made to feel as such by those whose hospitality they receive. To manifest liberality in the use of the facilities God has provided for His worn and overworked servants is genuine medical missionary work in His sight. God's workers are bound to Him, and when they are received it should be remembered that Christ is received in the person of His messengers. He requires this, and is dishonored and displeased when they are treated indifferently or dealt with in a small or selfish manner. God's blessing will not attend close dealing with any of His chosen ones. Among the medical fraternity there has not always been a keenness of perception to discern these matters. Some have not regarded them as they should. May the Lord sanctify the perception of those who have charge of our institutions, that they may know who should have true sympathy and care.
That branch of the cause for which these worn-out laborers have worked should show an appreciation of their labor by helping them in their time of need, thus sharing largely with the sanitarium the burden of expense.
Some workers are so situated as to be able to lay by a little from their salary, and this they should do, if possible, to meet an emergency; yet even these should be welcome as a blessing to the sanitarium. But most of our workers have many and great obligations to meet. At every turn, when means are needed, they are called upon to do something, to lead out, that the influence of their example may stimulate others to liberality and the cause of God be advanced. They feel such an intense desire to plant the standard in new fields that many even hire money to help in various enterprises. They have not given grudgingly, but have felt that it was a privilege to work for the advancement of the truth. By thus responding to calls for means, they are often left with very little surplus.
The Lord has kept an accurate account of their liberality to the cause. He knows what a good work they have done, a work of which the younger laborers have no conception. He has been cognizant of all the privation and self-denial they have endured. He has marked every circumstance of these cases. It is all written in the books. These workers are a spectacle before the world, before angels, and before men, and they are an object lesson to test the sincerity of our religious principles. The Lord would have our people understand that the pioneers in this work deserve all that our institutions can do for them. God calls upon us to understand that those who have grown old in His service deserve our love, our honor, our deepest respect.
A Workers' Fund
A fund should be raised for such workers as are no longer able to labor. We cannot be clear before God unless we make every reasonable effort in this matter, and that without delay. There are some among us who will not see the necessity of this move, but their opposition should have no influence with us. Those who purpose in their hearts to be right and to do right should move steadily forward for the accomplishment of a good work, a work that God requires to be done. There are many who are at their ease, who have postponed the work of doing good with their substance; but shall it be so longer? Shall we love money so well that we will bury it in the earth?
God calls for the co-operation of all in this enterprise. The affluent should give of the abundance; but if they give grudgingly, longing to have every dollar to invest in some worldly enterprise, they will receive no reward.
The humble gift from the poorer class is not, in the sight of God, inferior to the larger offerings of the more wealthy. The Lord will add His blessing to the gift, making its errand of love fruitful in accordance with the wholehearted cheerfulness with which it is bestowed. The mites from every source should be carefully cherished.
The ardor of the youth is now needed. They should put away vanity and restrict their wants. I would urge upon them and upon all our people that the money usually invested in unnecessary things be put to a higher, holier use. Do what you can toward creating a fund for the aged ministers, worn out with constant labor and care. Consecrate all that you have to the Lord. Do not use your money to gratify self. Put it into the Lord's treasury. Do not allow means to pass out of your hands merely to gratify the wishes of yourselves or others. In your expenditure consider that it is the Lord's money which you are handling and that you must render to Him an account of its use.
To the aged, who are losing their hold on this life, I appeal to make a right disposition of your Lord's goods before you fall asleep in Jesus. Remember that you are God's stewards. Give back to the Lord His own while you live. Do not fail of attending to this while you have your reason. As age comes upon us, it is our duty to make a disposition of our means to the instrumentalities that God has established. Satan is using every device to divert from the Lord's cause the means so much needed. Many are binding up their talent of means in worldly enterprises, when the cause of God needs every dollar to advance His truth and glorify His name. I ask: Shall we not lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven, in bags that wax not old? I would especially urge the aged who are soon to make a disposal of their means to remember those who have ministered faithfully in word and doctrine. Place your means where, should health and life fail, they can be invested in the cause of God. Thus they will be put out to the exchangers and be constantly accumulating.
I call upon the church as a whole, and upon its members individually, to render to God His own entrusted capital with interest. Thus you will have treasure in heaven. Let your hearts be true to Jesus. Although you may feel that you are the least of all saints, yet you are members of Christ's body, and through Him you are identified with all His human agencies and with the excellence and power of the heavenly intelligences. None of us liveth to himself. To each is assigned a post of duty, not for his own narrow, selfish interests, but that the influence of each may be a strength to all. If we really believed that we were individually a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men, would we not as a church manifest a very different spirit from that which we now manifest? Would we not be a living, working church?
The small and the larger streams of beneficence should ever be kept flowing. God's providence is far ahead of us, moving onward much faster than our liberalities. The way for the advancement and upbuilding of the cause of God is blocked by selfishness, pride, covetousness, extravagance, and love of display. The whole church is charged with a solemn responsibility to lift in every branch of the work. If its members follow Christ, they will deny the inclination for display, the love of dress, the love of elegant houses and costly furniture. There must be far greater humility, a much greater distinction from the world, among Seventh-day Adventists, else God will not accept us, whatever our position or the character of the work in which we are engaged. Economy and self-denial will furnish many in moderate circumstances with means for benevolence. It is the duty of all to learn of Christ, to walk humbly in the self-denying path in which the Majesty of heaven trod. The whole Christian life should be one of self-denial, that, when calls for help are made, we may be ready to respond.
As long as Satan works with unremitting energy to destroy souls, as long as there is a call for laborers in any part of the wide harvest field, so long will there be a call to give for the support of the work of God in some one of its many lines. We relieve one need only to make way to relieve another of like character. The self-denial required to obtain means to invest in that which God values most highly will develop habits and a character which will win for us the approbation, "Well done," and make us fit to dwell forever in the presence of Him who for our sake became poor, that we through His poverty might inherit eternal riches.
Men in positions of responsibility are in danger of becoming crushed under the many burdens that they bear, but the Lord does not press on anyone burdens too heavy to be borne. He estimates every weight before He allows it to rest upon the hearts of those who are laborers together with Him. To every one of His workers our loving heavenly Father says: "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee." Psalm 55:22. Let the burden bearers believe that He will carry every load, great or small.
Jesus consents to bear our burdens only when we trust Him. He is saying: "Come unto Me, all ye weary and heavy-laden; give Me your load; trust Me to do the work that it is impossible for the human agent to do." Let us trust Him. Worry is blind and cannot discern the future. But Jesus sees the end from the beginning, and in every difficulty He has His way prepared to bring relief. Abiding in Christ, we can do all things through Him who strengthens us.
Because of unconsecrated workers, things will sometimes go wrong. You may weep over the result of the wrong course of others, but do not worry. The work is under the supervision of the blessed Master. All He asks is that the workers shall come to Him for their orders, and obey His directions. All parts of the work --our churches, missions, Sabbath schools, institutions --are carried upon His heart. Why worry? The intense longing to see the church imbued with life must be tempered with entire trust in God; for "without Me," said the great Burden Bearer, "ye can do nothing." "Follow Me." He leads the way; we are to follow.
Let no one overtax his God-given powers in an effort to advance the Lord's work more rapidly. The power of man cannot hasten the work; with this must be united the power of heavenly intelligences. Only thus can the work of God be brought to perfection. Man cannot do God's part of the work. A Paul may plant, and an Apollos water, but God gives the increase. In simplicity and meekness man is to co-operate with divine agencies, at all times doing his best, yet ever realizing that God is the great Master Workman. He is not to feel self-confident, for thus he will exhaust his reserve force and destroy his mental and physical powers. Though all the workmen now bearing the heaviest burdens should be laid aside, God's work would be carried forward. Then let our zeal in labor be tempered with reason; let us cease our efforts to do that which the Lord alone can accomplish.