Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4


Religion in the Family

Brother G, you must be a converted man or you will lose eternal life. You cannot be a happy man until you obtain the meekness of wisdom. You and your wife have too long worked at cross purposes. You must lay down this faultfinding, these suspicions, jealousies, and unhappy bickerings. The spirit which is developed in your family is carried into your religious experience. Be careful how you speak of each other's faults in the presence of your children; and be careful how you let your spirit control you. You see only the bad and evil in your oldest son; you give him no credit for the good qualities, which, should he die, you would suddenly become convinced that he had possessed. Neither of you pursues a consistent course toward your son. You dwell upon his faults in the presence of others and show that you have no confidence in his good traits of character. 4T 240.2

In each of you there is a disposition to see the faults of the other, and of all others; but you are each blind to your own faults and many errors. You are both nervous, easily excited and irritated. You need the meekness of wisdom. You cling tenaciously to your own frailties, passions, and prejudices as though if you let them go you would no more have happiness in this life, when they are thorns, pricking, bruising thorns. Jesus invites you to lay down the yoke you have been bearing, which has been galling your neck, and take His yoke, which is easy, and His burden, which is light. How wearisome is the load of self-love, covetousness, pride, passion, jealousy, and evil surmising. Yet how closely do men clasp these curses, and how loath are they to give them up. Christ understands how grievous are these self-imposed burdens, and He invites us to lay them down. The heavy-laden and weary souls He invites to come to Him, and take His burden, which is light, in exchange for the burdens which they bind upon themselves. He says: “Ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” The requirements of our Saviour are all consistent and harmonious, and if cheerfully borne will bring peace and rest to the soul. 4T 240.3

When Brother G once takes a position on the wrong side, it is not easy for him to confess that he has erred; but if he can let his wrong course pass out of his mind and pass from the memory of others, and he can make some changes for the better without an open acknowledgment of his wrong, he will do so. But all these errors and unconfessed sins stand registered in heaven and will not be blotted out until he complies with the directions given in the word of God: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” If Brother G has found another plan besides that given us by our Lord, it is not a safe way and will prove his ruin at last. This other way is ruinous to the church, and ruinous to the prosperity and happiness of his family. He needs to soften his heart and to let tenderness, humility, and love into his soul. He needs to cultivate unselfish qualities. Brother and Sister G, you should cultivate qualities of mind which will make you pure, forgetful of self, and more interested in those with whom you are brought in contact. There is a vein of self-love and care for self which does not increase your happiness, but brings to you grief and sorrow. You have a conflict with yourself in which you alone can act a part. Both of you should control the tongue and keep back many things to which you give utterance. The first evil is in thinking wrong; then come the words which are wrong. But you leave undone the work of cultivating love, deference, and respect for each other. Be kindly considerate of each other's feelings, and seek to sacredly guard each other's happiness. You can do this only in the strength and name of Jesus. 4T 241.1

Sister G has made strong efforts to gain victories, but she has not had much encouragement from her husband. Instead of seeking God in earnest prayer for strength to overcome the defects in their characters, they have been watching each other's course and weakening themselves by finding fault with the course of others. The garden of the heart has not had attention. 4T 242.1

If Brother G had received the light that the Lord sent him months ago and had frankly conversed with his wife, if both had broken their hard hearts before the Lord, how different would be their present state. They both slighted the words of reproof and entreaty of the Spirit of God, and did not reform their lives. But closing their eyes to the light God had sent them did not make one of their faults less grievous in the sight of God nor lessen their accountability. They have hated the reproof which the Lord in pitying tenderness gave them. Brother G has naturally a kind and tender heart, but it is crusted over with self-love, vanity, and evil surmising. His heart is not callous, but he lacks moral power. He is a coward as soon as the necessity of self-denial and self-sacrifice is brought before him, for he loves himself. To control self, to put a watch upon his words, to acknowledge that he has done wrong or spoken wrongly, is a cross which he feels is too humiliating to lift; and yet if he is ever saved this cross must be lifted. 4T 242.2

Brother and Sister G, both of you need to watch your words; for just as surely as there is not a sentinel placed over your thoughts and actions, you will discourage each other and make it a sure case that neither of you can be saved. Both of you need to guard against a hasty spirit, which prompts hasty words and actions. Resentment, which is indulged because you think you have been misused, is the spirit of Satan and leads to great moral evil. When you are controlled by a hasty spirit you deprive your reason, for the time, of the power of regulating your words and your conduct, while you make yourselves responsible for all the evil consequences. That which is done in haste and anger is not excusable. The action is bad. You may, by a single word spoken in haste and passion, leave a sting in the hearts of friends which may never be forgotten. Unless you exercise self-control you will be a most unhappy couple. You each ascribe your unhappy life to the faults of the other; but do this no more. Make it a rule never to speak a word of censure to each other, but commend and praise whenever you can. 4T 242.3

Some think it is a virtue to be unrestrained, and they will speak in praise of their outspoken habit of talking out disagreeable things which are in the heart. They let an angry spirit exhaust itself in a torrent of reproach and faultfinding. The more they talk, the more excited they become, and Satan stands by to help on the work, for it suits him. The words irritate the one to whom they are spoken, and they will be thrown back, giving provocation for still harder words, until a little matter has blazed into a great flame. Both of you feel that you have all the trials that you can possibly endure and that your lives are most unhappy. Resolutely commence the work of controlling your thoughts, your words, your actions. When either of you feels the rising of resentment, make it a rule to go by yourself and humbly pray to God, who will hearken to the prayer which goeth not forth from feigned lips. 4T 243.1

Every passion must be under the control of enlightened conscience. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” 4T 243.2

If you live upon the plan of addition, adding grace to grace, God will multiply unto you His grace. While you add, God multiplies. If you cherish a habitual impression that God sees and hears all that you do and say, and keeps a faithful record of all your words and actions, and that you must meet it all, then in all you do and say you will seek to follow the dictates of an enlightened and wakeful conscience. Your tongue will be used to the glory of God and will be a source of blessing to yourself and to others. But if you separate from God, as you have been doing, take heed lest your tongue shall prove a world of iniquity and bring upon you fearful condemnation; for souls will be lost through you. 4T 244.1