Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2


Chapter 25—Combativeness Reproved

Dear Brother M,

When we met you at -----, we were anxious to help you, and we feared you would not receive the help there which you needed. I proposed your coming to our place and associating with us, and others of God's dear children, that you might be learning the lessons so important for you to learn before you could be strong to endure the temptations and perils of these last days. I recollected your countenance as that of one whom the Lord had shown me had been struggling for the mastery over powerful evil habits, which were leading not only to the destruction of your body but to your eternal destruction hereafter. You have gained victories, but you have still great victories to gain; you have battles to fight with internal foes which, unless overcome, will greatly mar your own happiness and that of all who associate with you. 2T 162.1

The evil traits in your character must be overcome. You must take hold of the work with earnest, humble prayer to God, feeling your helplessness without His special grace. The belief of the truth has already wrought a reformation in your life, yet this reform is not as thorough as it must be in order for you to meet the measurement of God. You love the truth, but it must take a deeper hold of your life and influence your words and all your deportment. You have a great lesson to learn, and should lose no time in learning it. You have not educated yourself to self-control. Here is a special victory for you to gain. In your organization are more of the elements of war than of peace. You need to cultivate courtesy and true Christian politeness. “In honor preferring one another.” “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” 2T 162.2

Your combativeness is large, and you stand braced, prepared to rebut everything where you have a chance. You do not labor to see how near you can make your ideas and views harmonize with those of others, but you stand all ready to differ if there is a possible chance for you to do so. This injures your own soul, retards your spiritual advancement, and not only grieves and wounds those who would be your sincere friends, but sometimes disgusts them, so that your society is not agreeable and pleasant, but annoying. It is as natural as your breath for you to consider the views and opinions of others inferior to yours. You often greatly err here, for you have not all that wisdom and knowledge for which you give yourself credit. You often set your opinions up above men and women who have had many more years of experience than yourself, and who are far better qualified to direct and give words of wise judgment than yourself. But you have not seen these disagreeable besetments, and therefore have not realized the ill and bitter fruit they have produced. You have long indulged a spirit of contention, of war. Your peculiar turn of mind leads you to exult in opposites. 2T 163.1

Your education has been deplorable; it has not been favorable to your now having a correct religious experience. You have had almost everything to unlearn and learn anew. You possess a hasty temper, which grieves your friends and the holy angels, and wounds your own soul. This is all contrary to the spirit of truth and true holiness. You must learn to cultivate modesty in speaking. Self must be subdued and kept in subjection. A Christian will not pursue a course of bickering and contention with even the most wicked and unbelieving. How wrong to indulge this spirit with those who believe the truth and who are seeking for peace, love, and harmony! Says Paul: “Be at peace among yourselves.” This spirit of contention is opposed to all the principles of heaven. In Christ's Sermon on the Mount He says: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” You will have trouble wherever you go, unless you learn the lesson God designs you to learn. You should be less confident and forward in your own opinion, and possess a teachable spirit, that of a learner. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.” Says James: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” 2T 163.2

A spirit of self-confidence is in keeping with your experience. Had you a more thorough experience in the things of God you would realize that the fruits you bear are bad. They contain no nourishment, but fill all who partake of them with bitterness. You must overcome your overbearing, dictatorial spirit. I have strong hope, my dear brother, that you, who have shown that you have moral courage to face an enemy in yourself, and fortitude to battle with the foe of appetite and strong evil habits which girded you about as with iron bands, will go to work right here and gain the victory. You have possessed a reckless spirit, have felt that no one cared specially for you, that almost everybody was your enemy, and that it was of no consequence what became of you. 2T 164.1

The truth found you miserable. You saw in it a power that would exalt you and impart to you the force and strength that you had not. You grasped the rays of light that shone upon you; and if you will now yield yourself fully to the influence of the truth, it will thoroughly convert and sanctify you, and prepare you for the finishing touch of immortality. You possess many good traits of character; you have a liberal heart. God wants you to be right, just right. You are unwilling to be dictated to or directed. You want to do all the dictating yourself. But you must possess a humble, teachable spirit, and be affable, patient, long-suffering, full of gentleness and mercy. 2T 164.2

We have an interest for you, and want to help you. I pray you to receive these lines with a right spirit, and let them suitably affect your heart and life. 2T 165.1