Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 140, 1897

God’s Claim On Us


December 14, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in CG 482-483; ML 102; AH 35-36.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” [Romans 12:1, 2.] 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 1

An inordinate appetite, which clamors for unhealthful things, increases to that degree in which it is indulged, till it becomes second nature to gratify perverted taste. We derive life from God, not from each other, and to follow life-destroying practices because we are living in a world with those who are extremists in everything connected with pleasure and selfish gratification, who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, means to sacrifice health, and truth, and righteousness, and life eternal. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 2

We are to remember that we are not our own, to treat according to our fancy. We are God’s property. By serving God we are brought into collision with common opinions and modes of thinking and practice, but this is not to influence us to wrong. “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light; for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” [Ephesians 5:11-17.] 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 3

Religion in the Home-life

Those who are united by the ties of nature have the strongest claims upon each other. The members of the family should manifest kindness and the tenderest love. The words spoken and deeds performed should be in accordance with Christian principles. In this way the house may be made a school, where workers for Christ may be trained. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 4

The home is to be regarded as a sacred place. But by our words and deportment we can degrade Bible religion in the home life. By the spirit we manifest we can misrepresent the principles which should rule our life. Every day of our lives we should surrender ourselves to God. Thus we may gain special help and daily victories. The cross is to be borne daily. Every word should be guarded, for we are responsible to God to represent in our lives as far as possible the character of Christ. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 5

The duties of the home life, the duties of husband and wife, brother and sister, parents and children, are wonderfully misunderstood from a religious point of view. Honesty, candor, frankness, forbearance, tenderness, should be manifested to each other by the members of the family. Each should seek to help each other by speaking encouraging words. These words oft have an influence that makes reproof unnecessary. Look upon things in a cheerful light, seeking to lift the shadows that if permitted, will envelop the soul. Cultivate sympathy for each other. Let cheerfulness, kindness, and love pervade the home. This will increase love for religious exercise. Duties large and small will be done with a light heart. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 6

God designs the family on earth to be a symbol, on a small scale, of the great family in heaven. In the home the foundation is laid for the prosperity of the church. The influences that rule in the home life are carried into church life. Then let church duties first begin in the home. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 7

Everyone who names the name of Christ has pledged himself to represent Christ in character. He is under pledge to Christ, as redeemed by His blood, to do his best. The provision has been made that divine grace shall so work on humanity that the character may be molded after the similitude of the character of Christ. To them that receive Him, Christ gives power to become the sons of God. Christ is to be uplifted. He is to be talked of. When He dwells in the heart, family worship will not be a form of dry, set phrases. The heart is imbued with love for Christ, and it expresses this love in prayer and praise, not in sighs and the utterance of dark words of hopelessness and discouragement. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 8

Religion is to be cherished in the home life. The members of the family are to show that they are in constant possession of a power received from Christ. They are to improve in every habit and practice, thus showing that they keep constantly before them what it means to be a Christian. They are to show that they realize that this means nothing less than conformity to the life and character of Christ. They are to demonstrate by the example that they have that faith that works by love and purifies the soul, making the character true, clean, and undefiled, until by growth in grace the natural bent of the thoughts and feelings is heavenward. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 9

The right principles lived daily, hourly, in the home bring Jesus very near, and where Christ is, there is light and peace and joy. What are the conditions of Christ’s indwelling presence? “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” [John 15:10.] “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him.” [John 14:21.] “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” [John 15:11, 12.] 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 10

Precious charge, given to every believer. A Christlike influence surrounds him who has given himself to the Lord. He reveals a love that makes all duties pleasant. He feels that he is under duty to serve God. But if Christians educate themselves to be selfish in trifles, they become impatient, petulant, harsh, wrangling. Satan takes the lines into his own hands, and controls them. They speak and act without regard to the influence they exert upon others. They do not stop to think that the enemy is driving them in order to make general confusion, sadness, and discouragement in the home. God is forgotten. The thoughts are selfish, unsanctified, and unholy. Yet some who act thus are professedly servants of Christ. They think they have a great duty to perform outside of the household. They cannot afford to do missionary work at home, but they have a wonderful zeal to work for sinners afar off. A desire for outward effect captivates their thoughts and actions. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 11

Missionary work is to be done in the home. In the home those who have received Christ are to show what grace has done for them. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” [John 1:12.] A conscious authority pervades the true believer in Christ that makes its influence felt throughout the home. This is favorable for the perfection of the characters of all in the home. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 12

The faithful performance of home duties has a reflex influence upon human beings. Our spiritual progress and perfection of Christian character in the home is carried into our missionary work abroad. Having on the whole armor of righteousness, we can fight as faithful soldiers of Christ. In the father’s house the evidence is to be given of a preparedness for the work to be done abundantly in the church. With earnest, humble hearts the members of the family are to seek to know that Christ is abiding in the heart. Then they can go forth with the whole armor on, equipped for Christ’s service. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 13

The reason why there are so many decided failures in missionary lines is because self is not under God’s discipline, but is wrestling for recognition. “Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of the light. (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” [Ephesians 5:8-10.] If this had been done, there would be more men with well-balanced minds, men fit to be “laborers together with God.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] No one can be a laborer together with God, and yet manifest an ambition to be the highest. Envy, love for the supremacy, evil-speaking, self-gratification, are altogether too common among professed Christians. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 14

Self-denial practiced in the home fits us to work for others. The cultivation of our faculties to do what needs to be done to make the home what it should be—a symbol of the home in heaven—prepares us to work in a larger vineyard. The church needs all the cultivated spiritual force that can be obtained, especially to guard the youth, the younger members of the Lord’s family. The truth lived at home makes itself felt in disinterested labor abroad. He who shows a Christian character in the home will be a bright and shining light everywhere. The education received in the home in showing a tender regard for each other enables us to know how to reach hearts that need to be taught the principles of true religion. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 15

Any one could take up the work as some professed missionaries do, giving a few minutes’ talk to this one and that one, making common place visits, talking of the mistakes others have made, and giving the impression that the speaker has a superior wisdom that enables him to shun such weakness. This work places human ability in the control of a power from beneath. Let souls fear for themselves and for others. Let missionaries have a living experience in spiritual conflict. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 16

Home duties should be performed with a realization that if they are done in the right spirit, they will give an experience that will enable us to work in spiritual lines in the most permanent and thorough manner. Oh, what might not a living Christian do in missionary lines by performing faithfully the daily duties, cheerfully lifting the cross, not neglecting that class of work that is not agreeable to the natural feelings. Missionaries for the Master are best prepared for work abroad in the Christian household, where God is feared, where God is loved, where God is worshiped, where faithfulness has become second nature, where haphazard, careless inattention to home duties is not permitted, where quiet communion with God is looked upon as essential to the faithful performance of daily duties. 12LtMs, Ms 140, 1897, par. 17