Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9 (1894)


Ms 102, 1894

Offending Christ’s Little Ones, No. 2



Previously unpublished.

“Whoso shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.” [Matthew 18:6.] What bearing do these words of Christ have upon our practical life? Is there in any one of us a feeling of self-importance, and have we a hasty, severe turn of mind? If so, let us turn and look upon the character of Christ until we are transformed in body, soul, and spirit, through His abundant grace, that we may be able to say, “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” [Psalm 18:35.] 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 1

To be severe, to exercise justice without mercy, will never win for you the benediction, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Matthew 25:21.] Children are susceptible to the influences of the Spirit of God. “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” “Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.” [Mark 10:13-16.] 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 2

“And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace; for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me, and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” [Mark 9:33-37.] 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 3

As Christians we are not to live to please and glorify ourselves. We are to be laborers together with God, helping to seek and to save those that are lost. We are in danger of loving those who please, praise, and flatter us. The spirit of accepting those who praise us is largely prevalent. It is when children are under temptation and trial that they need kind attention and pleasant words. Let those who are spiritual help them and not rashly cut the last cord that binds them to good influences. Faith and prayer should be exercised to press back the power of the enemy and to draw these souls toward those who love God, who may help them and in Christ Jesus strengthen them to resist and to overcome the strong temptations of the enemy. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 4

Even though the case of the one for whom you are laboring may to all appearances be hopeless, do not give him up; hold fast by faith to the erring and to Christ, and ask, and ye shall receive. Thrust not the sorely-tempted soul from you into the arms of Satan that he may allure and destroy the purchase of the blood of Christ. The Lord Jesus can save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. The loss of this temporal life is not to be regarded as so great a loss as the loss of the soul. The value of the soul is made manifest by the marvelous display of the love of Christ. There are some souls who from childhood seem to be the slaves of the enemy, for they have contracted bad habits, indulged a perverse temper, and have repeatedly been near the point of destroying themselves, but these are the very ones for whom Christ died! He is willing to forgive much if they will only come to Him for pardon. These are the souls that Satan seeks to bind by his deceptive snares. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 5

I have been shown that some ministers who are far from perfection of character deal sternly with the erring and imperil the souls of those whom they should seek to save in a Christlike way. Those who are chosen to teach our young should not be young men who are moved by impulse; they should be those who are guided by principle in all their actions. If one errs under them, those who are impulsive prescribe the very degree of humility that the offender must manifest, and if the culprit does not meet the standard, then he is judged and his confession is pronounced wanting. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 6

This way of dealing with the erring is practiced by those whose position before God is far more grievous than is the position of the one they cast away. These men, like the Pharisees, resist the Holy Spirit in stubbornness and rebellion, and yet they have no spirit of repentance, no remorse, no humbling of soul before God; yet as boldly as Saul, they will declare that they have obeyed all the commandments of the Lord. These men oppress souls and will not forgive their brethren until they meet the measure of humiliation that in their finite judgment their oppressors think proper. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 7

This is a great sin in the sight of God, and yet we are not to judge anyone, or measure the guilt and the repentance that should be manifested. It is ours to pity the sinner, for sin is the greatest of misfortunes. Without the grace of Christ, we should do worse than the one we condemn, were we placed under similar circumstances of temptation. We cannot make the erring one repent more deeply by driving and crowding him out of the school, by denouncing his course in public, by relating the sins which God was waiting to hide and pardon. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 8

It is an erroneous notion that the sins of the wrongdoer should be opened before the church, or before the students of the school, for God’s way of dealing with the erring is just the opposite. He waits to cover the multitude of sins, not to send the report of evil broadcast through the church, and give it into the hands of students who will carry the matter to the world. Those who feel that they are experienced Christians have lessons to learn concerning these matters. We must all become students in the school of Christ, and daily learn more and more of Him, that we may know what are the best methods by which to seek and to save them that are lost. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 9

To present the case of an erring student in such a way before his fellow students that he feels the greatest humiliation will not result in his reformation but in his ruin. You cannot make an erring one see his faults when your own heart is as cold and hard as an iron wedge. It will in many cases be impossible to heal the wound made by expelling a pupil from school because of his misdemeanors. God has not placed us in the world to be judges, but to show forth the mercy of Christ. It is Satan’s way of doing to call the attention of others to a sinner’s faults, but it is not God’s way. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 10

Christ is the only true One who can read the soul, the only One who can measure the repentance and know its genuine worth, and the man who takes upon himself the responsibility of judging the sinner will be accounted in greater guilt than the one he condemns. We are to do everything in God’s way, not in our own way, and if we err at all, it better be on the side of mercy rather than on the side of severity. Christ joined Himself to human life, and He identifies Himself with humanity in every detail of experience. Be careful how you deal with human minds. Christ has paid the ransom money for every soul. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 11

There are many in the bondage of sin who might be rescued if they were only approached in tenderness and with Christlike, sanctified sympathy. The human agent looks at the outside appearance and judges hastily, but God looks at the heart. “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.” This calling of a publican was thought most abominable by the Jews, and it was not calculated to refine the character. “And he sought to see Jesus who he was: and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him; for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must dine at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he is gone to be a guest with a man that is a sinner.” [Luke 19:1-7.] 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 12

Jesus called both the Jews and the Gentiles to be laborers together with God. He called many who were open sinners, whom men would have passed by. He saw in them jewels to be polished for the heavenly kingdom. Jesus sat at meat both with the Pharisees and the sinners. He was an invited guest at the feast of Matthew, and He invited Himself to dine with Zacchaeus. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 13

It was because of the murmuring of the Scribes and Pharisees on account of His associating with sinners and publicans that Jesus spoke the parables of the lost sheep, the lost silver, and the prodigal son. [Luke 15.] All these parables are intended to teach us mercy and forgiveness. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 14

There is another serious evil among us, and it is favoritism. Many display tenderness and sympathy for those whom they happen to fancy, and yet they pursue a very rigid course toward those who do wrong, and who try the patience, who are really in need of a large portion of the sympathy that is given to those who do not need or deserve it half as much. Let not the teacher think that his course is justifiable if it is unlike the course that Jesus would pursue under like circumstances. Faulty, trying cases test the character and prove whether we are possessed of mercy and compassion or not. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 15

Before Moses was sent to take the great responsibility of leading Israel out of Egypt, he was disciplined as a shepherd for forty years, and was thus qualified to become a leader of the people of God under Jesus Christ. The college at Battle Creek is not what it might be because all the teachers are not converted to God. Influence is power, and the teachers may exert an influence that will be fragrant and as enduring as eternity. Yet they may also be critical, unkind, uncourteous, unsympathetic, and unready to help the very ones that need help, who are lost and need to be sought and saved. There should be no soft sentimentalism, self-love, or self-exaltation, but each should regard his soul as of value since Christ has purchased it with His blood. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 16

The souls of all are precious. The souls of your relatives are precious, and they should not perish but have everlasting life. I need not urge upon you to try every means by which you may save the soul of father, mother, brother, or sister, or to rescue your own children from evil. But I plead with you for those who need your tenderness, who need your thoughtful consideration, your personal efforts to save their souls. I plead with you that you may have the love of Jesus to enable you to work for the unpromising ones without partiality and without hypocrisy. Your words of commendation and approval should be more free and abundant, and your words of censure and disapproval less frequent and harsh. Words of commendation are golden, and their influence is far-reaching for good. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 17

To set before the pupils an example of kindness, forbearance, and love would be productive of lasting good, for it is the example that is copied by others. But let not your favor be given to certain special ones, while at the same time you neglect those who need your help. We have Christ’s example in this matter. Oh, how essential it is that we rise above this self-living practice and have nobility of character. This nobility is not to be found in having certain exquisite, particular modes of gesture, while you condemn some defect in another’s manner and view it as though it were a world when it is only an atom. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 18

Important interests are neglected and passed by, and the softening, subduing grace of Christ is not interwoven in the character. But unless Christ abides in the heart, the selfish traits of character will be strengthened, and through Satan’s deceptions will be looked upon as valuable, and the manifestation of severe justice that savors not of mercy and compassion will be thought commendable. 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 19

Love, sympathy, forbearance, and longsuffering will constantly bring forth fruit after its own kind. When one errs, do not blaze abroad the matter. Do not rejoice in iniquity, but rather, hide Satan’s work and thus cut short his triumph. Should one come to you for sympathy and open the secrets of his heart, his failures and sins, you would act a despicable part to make them public. In disclosing his confidence, you do a work that causes Satan to triumph and that makes angels weep. Your words, your actions will live after you. Souls who have stumbled who might have been helped and rescued from the pit of hell, have been by your course hurried to the brink of the precipice. If God in mercy arrests their steps, be sure it is by some influence aside from yours, and take no credit to yourself for a moment that it was your severity, criticism, and condemnation, that turned their feet into the right path. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” [John 3:16, 17.] 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 20

Are finite men able to read the human heart? How do they know but that in the judgment they have passed upon those they thought erring they have done a great injustice? How do they know but that God is striving by His Holy Spirit to bring these very souls to repentance, and that the reason of their errors is the counter-working of Satan, who moves upon their objectionable traits of character in order that they may become discouraged in their efforts to overcome? Jesus said, “Ye judge after the flesh. I judge no man.” “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” [John 8:15; 7:24.] 9LtMs, Ms 102, 1894, par. 21