It is not God's plan that reports regarding the work of His servants shall be passed from one to another. My brethren, when someone comes to you with an accusation against a fellow worker say to him, "Have you gone to the one you are accusing, in the way in which Christ has told you to go? If you have not done this, I am not at liberty to listen to what you have to say about him."
Hear what Christ has said regarding this matter: "If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." And He says again, "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 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. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and publican."
Those who are Bible Christians will do as Christ has directed. If His directions were followed, many wounds would be cured that are now left to fester and break out until they are incurable. To follow the course laid down by the great Teacher, who never errs in counsel, is the only way to stop the false tongue, and cause criticism and accusing to cease. The abiding love of Christ in the soul leads to the manifestation of His meekness and lowliness.
Oh, how much time is worse than wasted by evilspeaking. Because of this sin, not half is accomplished that might be accomplished. Men and women become mischief makers for Satan, and, going to this one and that one, place in their minds the leaven of evil, prejudicing them against a brother or a sister who, they say, has done wrong. The thoughts of those thus influenced are disturbed, their peace is destroyed, and their confidence in their brethren is weakened.
Those who do this evil work are departing from Christ to follow one who is teaching them to love and make a lie. Whatever their position in the service of God, they are dishonoring Him, and Christ says to them, "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." All their qualifications and capabilities, however commendable they may apparently be, will not supply the deficiency resulting from the lack of Christlike love.
I feel so saddened, so discouraged, by the thought that my brethren are willing to listen to and circulate hearsay. I know that the Spirit of God will not cooperate with those who, by their criticisms, their evil-surmising, and their hardheartedness are helping Satan. God says to them, "Thou hast left thy first love. . . . Repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly," that is, "I will not bear long with your perverse spirit, which leads you to cherish envy and evil-surmising."
"I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." Do not these words, so plain and decided, call for serious thought and earnest study on the part of everyone who claims to believe the word of God? "Thou hast left thy first love." And the dryness and coldness of the heart are revealed by a lack of that Christian
courtesy, that fragrance of kindness and tenderness, that is seen in the life of the true Christian.
A cruel spirit of selfishness is entertained and cherished by the members of the family of God on earth, and too often they act like quarrelsome children. Christ cannot cooperate with them. He invites His people to come to Him, and to gain from His strength that will enable them to grow up "unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Those who refuse to grow up into men and women in Christ will ever be quarrelsome, overbearing, criticizing, denunciatory.
Those who think and speak evil of their fellow laborers, opening the mind to false reports and taking up a reproach against their neighbor, grieve the Spirit of God and put Christ to open shame. Shall those who minister in the word of God grow away from Christ, into uncomeliness and coarseness, becoming boastful and hardhearted? This is the picture that the lives of many now present. Shall not the picture be changed? When we allow spiritual moisture to fall constantly on the soul, we shall thrive as trees of the Lord's planting.
If those who know the truth will return to their first love, if they will draw their supplies from Christ, self will not assume such large proportions that the Saviour cannot work with them. When the life of Christ is our life, we shall be like fresh foliage, sweet and fragrant.
Christ is as hungry for fruit from ministers and people as when, on His way from Bethany to Jerusalem, He came to a fig tree covered with foliage and presenting an appearance of fruitfulness. But upon searching its branches, from the lowest bough to the topmost twig, Jesus found "nothing but leaves." It was a mass of pretentious foliage, nothing more. Today Christ comes to His people, hungering to find in them the fruits of righteousness. But many, many have
nothing but leaves to offer Him. They have left their first love, and upon them has fallen spiritual blindness, hardness of heart, stubbornness of mind. They pray to God and present Bible truth to the people, for they are in the habit of doing so; but they have lost that which would make their service acceptable.
How blind they are, how deficient their service. Boastingly they say, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." But God says to them, "Thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."
These words are a true representation of the condition of the churches. Will God's people accept His reproof? Let them not remain in their present condition, for time is passing and the work that ought to be done is not done. Where are the trees of the Lord's planting? Are they bearing fruit to His glory? Where are the men who walk softly before God?
The Lord bids me say to His people, "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils." "Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me, and he shall make peace with Me."
How unlike Christ we are in word and spirit and in our attitude toward one another. His gentleness should make us rejoice in the Lord. It should make us "kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another." As a people who have had great light, we stand before God under condemnation unless we fulfill the Saviour's expectation for us, holding fast to Him, and allowing Him to send through our religious experience a warm current of unselfish love. When we do this, our spiritual strength will show that we are
living in close connection with the Life-giver. We shall give life for the life that we receive.
A thoroughgoing Christian draws his motives of action from his deep heart-love for his Master. Up through the roots of his affection for Christ come faith and an unselfish interest in his brethren. The selfish desire to be first is quenched. There is no hatred in his thoughts, because there is no hatred in his heart. He has the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. The refining influence of Christ's love refreshes and invigorates his spiritual life. By his loyalty to his brethren he shows that he realizes the value of souls. He can pray with the spirit and with the understanding also. His zeal, his staunch principles, his true devotion to that which is pure, honest, just, and of good report, make him companionable.
Such men are of value with God. If they continue to put their trust in Christ, they will grow more and more like Him, and one day they will see God, who declares, "I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir."
Christ's Jewels . I cannot sleep after half past two. I rise and dress, and then commit myself to the Lord. To Him alone can I look for help. We are His workmanship, the great apostle to the Gentiles declares, "created in Christ Jesus unto good works." I would not trust in the wisdom of the most learned man that lives, unless his life--his spirit and words and deportment--revealed the righteousness of Christ.
Christians are Christ's jewels, bought with an infinite price. They are to shine brightly for Him, shedding forth the light of His loveliness. And ever they are to remember that all the luster that Christian character possesses is received from the Sun of Righteousness.
The luster of Christ's jewels depends on the polishing that they receive. God does not compel us to be polished. We are left free to choose to be polished or to remain unpolished. But everyone who is pronounced worthy of a place in the Lord's temple must submit to the polishing process. He must consent to have the sharp edges cut away from his character, that it may be shapely and beautiful, fitted to represent the perfection of Christ's character.
The Lord is dishonored when, because His people do not live in the light of the Sun of Righteousness, they reflect no more light than common pebbles. He is dishonored when their service is tarnished with the leprosy of selfishness.
The divine Worker spends little time on worthless material. Only the precious jewels does He polish after the similitude of a palace. With hammer and chisel He cuts away the rough edges, preparing us for a place in God's temple. The process is severe and trying. It hurts human pride. Christ cuts deep into the experience that man in his self-sufficiency regarded as complete, and takes away self-uplifting from the character. He cuts away the surplus surface, and putting the stone to the polishing wheel, presses it close, that all roughness may be worn off. Then, holding the jewel up to the light, the Master sees in it a reflection of His own image, and it is pronounced worthy of a place in His temple.
Blessed be the experience, however severe, that gives new value to the stone, enabling it to shine with living brightness.
The Lord will call young men from the humble walks of life into His service, just as He did when, living in person on this earth, He passed by the learned rabbis to choose as His first disciples humble, unlearned fisherman. He has workers whom He will call forth from poverty and obscurity. Engaged in the
common duties of life, and clothed with coarse raiment, they are looked upon by men as of little value. But Christ sees in them, through His grace, infinite possibilities, and in His hands they will become precious jewels, to shine brightly in the kingdom of God. "They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels" (Mal. 3:17).
Christ's perfect knowledge of human character fits Him to deal with minds. He knows just how to treat each soul. He judges not as man judges. He knows the real value of the material upon which He is working in fitting men and women for positions of trust. He will give wisdom and knowledge to those who are willing to be worked by the Holy Spirit, willing to be doers of the word and not hearers only, willing to uplift Christ before the world.
Christ is the rightful owner of man. He says to him, "You are Mine. I have bought you with a price. I gave My life for you, that your life might be made harmonious and symmetrical. If you will surrender yourself willingly to Me, I will guide you aright. You are a rough stone, but if you will place yourself in My hands, I will polish you. I will put you in the place that I have chosen for you, that after My plans and methods you may work out My purposes for you. I will so imbue you with My grace that by the luster with which you shine you will bring honor to My name. No man shall pluck you out of My hand. I will make you My peculiar treasure. In the day of My appearing and My triumph, you will be a jewel in My crown of rejoicing."
On Christ's coronation day He will not acknowledge as His any who bear spot or wrinkle or any such thing. But to His faithful ones He will give crowns of immortal glory. Those who will not that He should reign over them will see Him surrounded by the army of the redeemed, each of whom bears the sign, The Lord
Our Righteousness. They will see the head once crowned with thorns crowned with a diadem of glory.
In that day the redeemed will shine forth in the glory of the Father and the Son. The angels of heaven, touching their golden harps, will welcome the King and His trophies of victory, those who have been washed and made white and tried. A song of triumph will peal forth, filling all heaven. Christ has conquered! He enters the heavenly courts accompanied by His redeemed ones-- the witnesses that His mission of suffering and self-sacrifice has not been in vain.
A Call to Greater Consecration . Can you marvel, my brethren and sisters, that I am bowed down with inexpressible agony, as again and again I am made to realize that few among our people understand their weakness. The characters of many of those who have received such wonderful truth are a jumble of opposites. Christ has promised to make them harmonious on every point, not pleasant and agreeable and king today, and tomorrow harsh and disagreeable and unkind, falsifying their profession of faith. But many refuse to place themselves where He can help them. They are breaking the commandments of God, for they have left their first love.
Oh, how many now teaching others need themselves to learn what it means to be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony! They need to feel the power of saving grace. Self and Satan are spoiling many souls, making them so unchristlike in spirit, in word, and in action, and so harmful in influence, that God will separate them from His work. There is danger that by their unchristlikeness they will spoil the experience of those who have any connection with them, [those] whom God desires to polish as living stones for His temple.
To all who have been harsh and discourteous, as hard as flint in their speech and dealing with their brethren, who are not touched by the strivings of God's Spirit, who desire to be first, to grasp supreme authority, God says, "Thou has left thy first love." He will give them another trial, but if they refuse to repent He will come unto them quickly and will remove their candlestick out of his place.
Unless men possess the love of Christ, the qualifications that otherwise would be of value in God's work will be controlled by the natural selfishness of the human heart. Christ desires every man's character to be a harmonious whole. If it is not this, deformity exists. God and man must cooperate to make the character beautiful and symmetrical.
Self must be wholly surrendered to Christ. "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." You are to surrender your ownership of self to God's ownership.
Sanctification is a progressive work. It is a continuous work, leading human beings higher and still higher. It brings perfection. It does not leave love behind, but brings it constantly into the life as the very essence of Christlikeness.
Day by day we are building characters, and we are building for eternity. God desires us in our lives to give the people of the world an example of what they should be and can be through obedience to the gospel of Christ. Let us place ourselves in God's hands, to be dealt with as He sees best. "Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." "Ye are God's husbandry; ye are God's building." If we build in cooperation with Him, the structure that we rear will
day by day grow more beautiful and more symmetrical, under the hand of the Master-builder, and through all eternity it will endure.
Christ says to us, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." He is our Example. During His life on earth, He was ever kind and gentle. His influence was ever fragrant, for in Him dwelt perfect love. He was never sour and unapproachable, and He never compromised with wrong to obtain favor. If we have His righteousness, we shall be like Him in gentleness, in forbearance, in unselfish love. Shall we not, by dwelling in the sunshine of His presence, become mellowed by His grace?
Let us honor our profession of faith. Let us adorn our lives with beautiful traits of character. Harshness of speech and action is not of Christ, but of Satan. Shall we by clinging to our imperfections and deformities make Christ ashamed of us? His grace is promised to us. If we will receive it, it will adorn our lives. Then, in the place of disparaging our fellow workers, we shall help them to climb the ladder of progression. Deformity will be exchanged for practical godliness. Our lives will be adorned with the Christian graces.
God calls for our cooperation. His requirements are just and reasonable. Shall we not strive to be Christians in life as well as in profession? Shall we not ennoble our lives by the dignity of a steadfast purpose? When we take the name of Christ, we pledge ourselves to be true representatives of Him. We are not to bring into the Christian life our natural and cultivated tendencies to wrong. Christ must be formed within, the hope of glory. Our daily life must become more like the Christ-life. We must be Christians in deed and in truth if we ever see the kingdom of heaven.
Christ will have nothing to do with pretense. He will welcome to the heavenly courts only those whose Christianity is genuine. The lives of those
professing Christians who do not live the life of Christ are a mockery to religion.
A true, lovable Christian is the most powerful argument that can be advanced in favor of Bible truth. Such a man is Christ's representative. His life is the most convincing evidence that can be borne to the power of divine grace. When our people bring Christ's righteousness into the daily life, sinners will be converted, and victories over the enemy will be gained.
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report ; if there by any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."--Ms 168, 1902. Ellen G. White Estate Washington, D. C. Dec. 17, 1987. Entire Ms.