The principle of God's Word most disregarded is that which enjoins upon us the necessity of loving God supremely, and the result is that men find it impossible to obey the second great principle of the law, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Just in accordance with the seed sown will be the harvest reaped. The test is now upon us. Which shall it be--transgression or loyalty, obedience or disobedience, to these commandments?
The Word of God is our standard of character. It is a "form of sound words" from the great Source of light and life. There is nothing that we need to preserve so sacredly as this standard of doctrine, a "Thus saith the Lord." This is the pure fountain from which we are to draw the reasons for our faith. The Bible is our guide and textbook. The law of God is our covenant with our Maker, in life, in death, in the resurrection, and through all eternity. Our loyalty to God in obeying, in spirit and letter, the ten commandments, reveals to the world, to angels, and to men, our covenant relation with Him. Adam and Eve were to glorify God by personal and perpetual obedience to His law, and it is in this way that we are to give God glory for all His entrusted gifts. We are to love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves.
"And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and
with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself. And He said unto him, Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live" [Luke 10:25-28].
Here are the two great principles--love to God and love to our neighbor. Upon these two principles hang all the law and the prophets. Those who fail in their fulfillment of these vital principles, though they profess a knowledge of the truth, though they preach the Word and understand all mysteries, "shall eat of the fruit of their own doings, and be filled with their own devices." Those who cherish suspicion and imagine evil, reveal that they are not carrying out the principles of this law; and they pursue a course which brings upon themselves the evils which they imagine. God will not be trifled with. His word is to be cherished and obeyed.
The educational advantages of our school are to be of a distinct order. This school farm is God's lesson book. Those who till the soil and plant and cultivate the orchard are to make the application of nature's lessons, and bring these lessons learned into their actual spiritual experience. Let every individual bear in mind that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." The man who day by day sows objectionable seeds, in words, in deportment, in spirit, is conforming himself to the same character, and this is determining the future harvest he will reap. Then let ministers and their wives, let the teachers of the youth in any line, close the door to jealousy and evil surmising of those whom God uses to do His work.
God has given to every man an individual responsibility. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," He says. Man is not to work out any other man's salvation. He is not to become the transcript of any man's mind.
He is required to act in his capacity according to the ability God has given him. No man, whatever his experience, whatever his position, is to feel that he accomplishes a wonderful work when he fashions and shapes the mind of any human being after his own mind, and teaches him to voice the sentiments he may express. This has been done again and again to the detriment of human beings.
The minds of God's workers must be turned toward the Sun of Righteousness. The impress of the mind of God is not upon the man who will refuse to impart instruction unless he first learns the mind of some minister or someone in whom he has confidence. In this he is leaning upon man and making flesh his arm. Let every intelligent human being lean upon his God. Let him breathe out his soul to God. Let him not consent to wear Saul's armor, but with his own God-given ability, work in the armor that God has provided for him.
The man who seeks to pattern after any man's character will make an utter failure. Each person is to look to God for himself, to trade with conscientious fidelity upon the talents God has given him. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure" [Phil. 2:12, 13]. It is in you , brother, in you ; not in another for you. You are to have an individual experience. Then you will have rejoicing in yourself, and not in another.
No man can grow up to the full stature of a man for another. Each must reach his own individual measurement for himself. Each is to grow up under God's supervision. "Which of you by taking thought," says Christ, "can add one cubit unto his stature?" Thus in the spiritual as in the natural growth, all depends upon the Lord.
[Matt. 6:24-33, quoted.]
These things in the natural world are to be considered and their lessons applied to the spiritual life, the spiritual growth. To every man God, not man, has given his work. This is an individual work--the formation of a character after the divine similitude. The lily is not to strive to be like the rose. There are distinctions in the formation of the flowers and in the fruits, but all derive their peculiar variance from God. All are the Lord's. So it is God's design that even the best of men shall not all be of the same character.
A life consecrated to the service of God will be developed and beautified in its individuality. No person can sink his individuality in that of another, but we are all, as individuals, to be grafted into the one parent stock, and there is to be unity in diversity. The great Master Artist has not made two leaves of the same tree precisely alike; so His creative power does not give to all minds the same likeness. They are created to live through ceaseless ages, and there is to be complete unity, mind blending with mind, but none are to be of the same mold.
There is abundant room for all in harmonious diversity to act the part assigned them. No one man's mind or judgment is complete. The Word of God is dealing with principles that all must respect. It has been an educator in every age. Divinity speaks through a variety of His human agents.
All are to strive for the fragrance of Christ's character; then they can act their part in the world as God designs they shall do. Let us thank God that all characters are to be fashioned not after man's pattern but after the Lord's ideal. Let us allow our fellow workers to grow up in religious experience under the molding and fashioning of the Holy Spirit. Let none feel at liberty to demerit and belittle God's workmanship, the men who do not bear their likeness.
David could not wear Saul's armor, and, dropping it, he took the sling and the stone with which he was familiar, and slew the Philistine who defied Israel.
To love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves, means the formation of a symmetrical character. It behoves every soul who is striving for the overcomer's reward to heed the principles enjoined, and bring them into his practical life. Then there will be a precious bond of union, brother with brother. Under the Holy Spirit's working, selfishness, self-sufficiency, and self-esteem will be put away.
Not all are given the same work. "And 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." Here it is plainly revealed that the saints are to be perfect in the development of their different gifts; and the grace of Christ is to be revealed in bringing all into unity, love, and harmonious action, "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 fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" [Eph. 4:13-16].
This is the relation church members should sustain to each other. This is to be conscientiously carried out. Each is to live and act individually before
God, and conscientiously give to his fellow laborers a place to work, without jealousy, evil surmising, or evil-speaking. We are to encourage one another. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil-speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" [verses 29-32]. This word is to be brought into the practical life.
Man may see no place for the working of certain gifts, because they are not his gifts, but let each think of himself as God would have him. Let each bear in mind that his capabilities are only lent him, and that by these God is testing him to see whether he will use these entrusted talents to honor God, and work for the good of his brother and neighbor.
Holiness, which means wholeness to God, is wholly acceptable to God. A Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but God giveth the increase. "He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" [Gal. 6:8]. As the workers till the soil, they are to reap all the advantages possible by making an application of the lessons they receive. In the natural world unseen agencies are constantly at work to produce the essential results, but the harvest to be reaped depends upon the seed that has been sown. After man faithfully prepares the land, and plants the seed, God must work constantly to cause the seed to germinate.
So it is in spiritual things. The word of the living God is the seed, Christ is the sower, and unless He constantly works the soil of the heart, there will be no harvest. "Ye are God's husbandry; ye are God's building." God gave His Son to die, the Just for the unjust, that there might be a glorious harvest of souls. The human heart is God's seed plot, and the righteousness of Christ must be cherished there. Then let no man trust in the arm of flesh, but in God. Let each give evidence that he has faith, that he is not a religious dwarf, but that he grows under the dews and showers of the grace of Christ, that his life of righteousness is not of man's creating, but that it is the righteousness of Christ, which the grace of God has nourished in his heart.
To some the Lord has given a special work, in bearing testimonies of warning and reproof, to break down the strongholds of iniquity, to arouse conviction in the human heart, and bring man to repentance. Some messages come as the Lord's hammer, to break down the workings of Satan, and bring men to the living God. But mingled with this decided work of standing in defense of the truth is Christ's consolation, which comes when repentance reveals what sin really is. And while some are called to battle desperately with an evil work, there is another kind of message to be borne to the ones who, while suffering wrong, have endured the temptation to harbor a sense of injustice and cherish it in the mind.
Again, some have the gift given them of God to act as organizers. Others fill their place as they work in retirement, feeling themselves little and unknown, with but few to recognize their work, and none to pity their mistakes and praise their victories. But the Lord uses all these elements. No one man can fill every place, and God's great work must go forward. Those who consider
themselves the least, and in their weakness lean upon God, those who walk in humility of mind, as children--these will become first, and the first last. In every age God has His workmen, and at the needed time preparation is made for some man with talent, with some gift, to come in. Thus the Lord reveals that He has the supervision of His work.
The most essential work now to be done is to consider the words of Christ, "All ye are brethren." Each must stand in his lot and place to do the work appointed him, in perfect harmony with his brethren. All are to seek to strengthen and build up the waste places, to hold aloft the Bible standard, to voice the third angel's message, to live the truth, to exercise mercy and the love of God, and be ready for any work that may be next in the service of God. They are to bear in mind the teachings of Christ upon the Mount of Olives, and mark the attributes which He calls blessed. "Blessed are the meek," He says, "for they shall inherit the earth." "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." "Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy." Then let us cultivate the precious attribute of mercy, for it will be reflected back to us again.
"Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God." The psalmist says: "Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart." "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation."
Shall we not receive this light shining forth from the Word of God? Shall we not be thankful for His Word, and thank Him for such plain instruction in regard to the duty devolving upon all who desire the blessings specified? Shall we consult human beings when we have the voice of God to speak to us?
"Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God." Who calls them so? All the heavenly intelligences. Then do not encourage any tempted soul to tell you the grievances of a brother or a friend. Tell them that you do not want to hear their words of censure and evil speaking, because your Counsellor has told you in His Word that if you cease to stir up strife, and become a peacemaker, you will be blessed. Tell them that this is the blessing you are craving.
For Christ's sake do not speak or think evil. May the Lord help us not only to read the Bible but to practice its teachings. The human agent who is faithful in his work, who unites gentleness with his power, justice with his love, causes rejoicing among the heavenly intelligences, and glorifies God. Let us strive earnestly to be good and to do good, and we shall receive the crown of life that fadeth not away.--Ms 116, 1898. Ellen G. White Estate Washington, D. C. Oct. 1, 1987. Entire Ms.