Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Ms 14, 1896

Qualifications Essential for the Work of God.

NP

April 28, 1896

This manuscript is published in entirety in PC 395-398.

In His Word the Lord enumerates the gifts and graces that are indispensable for all who connect with His work. He does not teach us to ignore, learning or despise education, for when controlled by the love and fear of God, intellectual culture is a blessing; yet this is not presented as the most important qualification for the service of God. Jesus passed by the wise men of His time, the men of education and position, because they were so proud and self-sufficient in their boasted superiority that they could not sympathize with suffering humanity and become co-laborers with the Man of Nazareth. In their bigotry they scorned to be taught by Christ. The Lord Jesus would have men connected with His work who appreciate that work as sacred; then they can co-operate with God. They will be unobstructed channels through which His grace can flow. The attributes of the character of Christ can be imparted to those only who distrust themselves. The highest scientific education cannot in itself develop a Christlike character. The fruits of true wisdom come from Christ alone. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 1

Every worker should test his own qualifications by the Word of God. Have the men who are handling sacred things a clear understanding, a right perception of things of eternal interest? Will they consent to yield to the working of the Holy Spirit, or do they permit themselves to be controlled by their own hereditary and cultivated tendencies? It becomes all to examine themselves, to see whether they be in the faith. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 2

Those who occupy positions of trust in the work of God should ever bear in mind that these positions involve great responsibility. The right performance of the solemn work for this time, and the salvation of the souls connected with us in any way, depend in a great degree upon our own spiritual condition. All should cultivate a vivid sense of their responsibility, for their own well being, and their eternal destiny will be decided by the spirit they cherish. If self is woven into the work, it is as the offering of strange fire in the place of the sacred. Such workers incur the displeasure of the Lord. Brethren, remove your hands from the work unless you can distinguish the sacred fire from the common. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 3

Those who have stood as representative men are not all Christian gentlemen. There is prevalent a spirit that seeks the mastery over others. Men regard themselves as authority; they express their opinions, and pass resolutions about matters of which they have no experimental knowledge. Some who have connected with the publishing house at _____, pass through the Office, speaking with different ones, giving directions which they suppose it proper for them to give, when they do not understand what they are talking about. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 4

Great injustice and even dishonesty has been committed in board meetings, in bringing matters before those who have not an experience that will enable them to be competent judges. Manuscripts have been placed in the hands of men for criticism when the eyes of their understanding were so blinded that they could not discern the spiritual import of the subject with which they were dealing. More than this, they had no real knowledge of bookmaking. They had had neither study nor practice in the line of literary productions. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 5

Men have sat in judgment upon books and Mss [manuscripts], unwisely placed in their hands, when they should have declined to serve in any such capacity. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 6

It would have been only honest for them to say, “I have had no experience in this line of work, and should certainly do injustice to myself and to others in giving opinion. Excuse me, brethren; instead of instructing others, I need that some one should teach me.” But this was far from their thoughts. They expressed themselves freely in regard to subjects of which they knew nothing. Conclusions have been accepted as the opinions of wise men, when they were simply the opinions of novices. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 7

The time has come when in the name and strength of God the church must act for the good of souls and for the honor of God. A lack of firm faith and of discernment in sacred things should be regarded as sufficient to debar any man from connection with the work of God. So also the indulgence of a quick temper, a harsh, overbearing spirit, reveals that its possessor should not be placed where he will be called to decide weighty questions that affect God’s heritage. A passionate man should have no part to act in dealing with human minds. He cannot be trusted to shape matters which have a relation to those whom Christ has purchased at an infinite price. If he undertakes to manage men, he will hurt and bruise their souls, for he has not the fine touch, the delicate sensibility, which the grace of Christ imparts. His own heart needs to be softened, subdued by the Spirit of God; the heart of stone has not become a heart of flesh. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 8

Those who are thus misrepresenting Christ, are placing a wrong mold upon the work, for they encourage all who are connected with them to do as they do. For their soul’s sake, for the sake of those who are in danger from their influence, they should resign their position, for the record will appear in heaven that the wrongdoer has the blood of many souls upon his garments. He has caused some to become exasperated, so that they have given up the faith; others have been imbued with his own satanic attributes; and the evil done, it is impossible to estimate. Those only, who make it manifest that their hearts are being sanctified through the truth, should be retained in positions of trust in the Lord’s work. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 9

Let all consider that whatever their employment they are to represent Christ. With steadfast purpose, let every man seek to have the mind of Christ. Especially should those who have accepted the positions of counsellors or directors feel that they are required in every respect to be Christian gentlemen. While in dealing with others we are always to be faithful, we should not be rude. The souls with whom we have to do are the Lord’s purchased possession, and we are to permit no hasty, overbearing expression to escape the lips. Brethren, treat men as men, not as servants to be ordered about at your pleasure. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 10

He who indulges a harsh, overbearing spirit might better become a tender of sheep, as did Moses, and thus learn what it means to be a true shepherd. Moses gained in Egypt an experience as a mighty statesman, and as a leader of armies, but he did not there learn the lessons essential for true greatness. He needed an experience in more humble duties, that he might become a caretaker, tender toward every living thing. In keeping the flocks of Jethro, his sympathies were called out to the sheep and lambs, and he learned to guard these creatures of God with the tenderest care. Although their voice could never complain of mistreatment, yet their attitude might show much. God cares for all the creatures He has made. In working for God in this lowly station, Moses learned to be a tender shepherd for Israel. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 11

The Lord would have us learn a lesson also from the experience of Daniel. There are many who might become mighty men if, like this faithful Hebrew, they would depend upon God for grace to be overcomers, and for strength and efficiency in their labors. Daniel manifested the most perfect courtesy, both toward his elders and toward the youth. He stood as a witness for God, and sought to take such a course that he might not be ashamed for heaven to hear his word or to behold his works. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 12

When Daniel was required to partake of the luxuries of the king’s table, he did not fly into a passion, neither did he express a determination to eat and drink as he pleased. Without speaking one word of defiance, he took the matter to God. He and his companions sought wisdom from the Lord, and when they came forth from earnest prayer, their decision was made. With true courage, and Christian courtesy, Daniel presented the case to the officer who had them in charge, asking that they might be granted a simple diet. These youth felt that their religious principles were at stake, and they relied upon God, whom they loved and served. Their request was granted, for they had obtained favor with God and with men. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 13

Men in every position of trust need to take their place in the school of Christ, and heed the injunction of the great Teacher: “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:29, 30.] We have no excuse for manifesting one wrong trait of character. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” [Zechariah 4:6.] In your dealings with others, whatever you see or hear that needs to be corrected, first seek the Lord for wisdom and grace, that in trying to be faithful, you may not be rude. Ask Him to give you the gentleness of Christ; then you will be true to your duty, true to your position of trust, and true to God, a faithful steward, overcoming natural and acquired tendencies to evil. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 14

None but a whole hearted Christian can be a perfect gentleman, but if Christ is abiding in the soul, His Spirit will be revealed in the manner, the words, and the actions. Gentleness and love, cherished in the heart, will appear in self-denial, in true courtesy. Such workers will be the light of the world. 11LtMs, Ms 14, 1896, par. 15