Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 16 (1901)


Lt 109, 1901

Johnston, J. O.

St. Helena, California

August 6, 1901

This letter is published in entirety in SpM 194-196.

Brother Johnston,—

I am greatly troubled in behalf of Brother Shireman, whom I know the Lord loves. God will be his friend and helper and his exceeding great reward. 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 1

The Lord presented the situation before me. I was shown Brother Shireman in great sorrow, suffering from the criticisms of those who had done nothing to build up his work. I immediately wrote a letter of encouragement to Brother Shireman, and I wrote a letter to you also, and thought I had sent it, but I find that I did not. I will now write a little more to send with it. 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 2

The Lord is no respecter of persons. He who wounds the feelings of an aged brother needs the converting power of God. How ashamed he ought to be, with his young strength, to slight one who has grown gray in serving God. How different his course would be could he see how highly Christ estimates the humble, earnest worker! 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 3

Christ accepts and communes with the most lowly. He does not accept men because of their capabilities or eloquence, but because they seek His face, desiring His help. His Spirit, moving upon the heart, arouses every faculty to vigorous action. In these unpretentious ones the Lord sees the most precious material, which will stand storm and tempest, heat and pressure. God sees not as man sees. He judges from appearance. He searches the heart and judges righteously. 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 4

God is displeased with the spirit you have manifested. Your insinuations and criticisms are most unbecoming. When you ought to be a teacher, you have need that one teach you. Do you know that you are criticizing the work of a man who has been visited by the angels of the Lord? Who has sent you to a field where a good work is in progress, to show your zeal by tearing it in pieces? If this is working in the “regular lines,” it is high time that we worked in irregular lines. 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 5

No minister should dishonor his position as a Christian worker by being severe, critical, and overbearing, riding rough-shod over men whom the Lord is using, men whom He loves because they appreciate His grace and do not abuse His mercies. Those who desire to be dealt with in mercy and compassion must show mercy and compassion when dealing with their brethren. 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 6

It is acting the part of a thief and a robber to step into another man’s field of labor and destroy his harvest. Paul, the greatest preacher among believers, did not desire to go upon another man’s ground. His desire was to preach the gospel to those who had never heard it. He writes, “Yea, so have I striven to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation; but as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see; and they that have not heard shall understand.” [Romans 15:20, 21.] And of Christ it is written, “So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him; for that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they consider.” [Isaiah 52:15.] 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 7

There is true honor among those who have the love of God in their hearts. Our object in working for the Master should be that His name may be glorified in the conversion of sinners. Those who labor to gain applause are not approved by God. The Lord expects His servants to work from different motives. 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 8

There are many who will spend and be spent to win souls to Christ. In obedience to the great commission, they will go forth to work for the Master. Under the ministration of angels ordinary men will be moved by the Spirit of God to warn people in the highways and byways. Humble men, who do not trust in their gifts, but who work in simplicity, trusting always in God, will share in the joy of the Saviour as their persevering prayers bring souls to the cross. We should say to them, Go forth, brethren. Do your best humbly and sincerely, and God will work with you. They should be strengthened and encouraged, and as fast as possible fitted for labor, that success may crown their efforts. They harmonize with unseen, heavenly instrumentalities. They are workers together with God, and their brethren should bid them Godspeed and pray for them as they labor in Christ’s name. No one is authorized to hinder such workers. They should be treated with great respect. No one should speak a disparaging word of them as in the rough places of the earth they sow the gospel seed. 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 9

Christ will be with these humble workers. The angels of heaven will co-operate with them in their self-sacrificing efforts. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will move upon hearts. God will work miracles in the conversion of sinners. Men and women will be gathered into church fellowship. Meeting houses will be built, and institutions of learning established. 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 10

These workers are trees of the Lord’s planting. In a peculiar sense they bear fruit equal to the fruit borne by the apostles. They receive a reward in this life, and a glorious reward awaits them in the future life. 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 11

It is time that church members understood that everywhere there is work to be done in the Lord’s vineyard. No one is to wait for a regular process before they make any efforts. They should take up the work right where they are. There should be many at work in what are called “irregular lines.” If one hundred laborers would step out of the “regular lines” and take up self-sacrificing work such as Brother Shireman has done, souls would be won to the Lord. And the workers would understand by experience what it means to be laborers together with God. 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 12

Can it be that our brethren think that their criticisms are the productions of the Holy Spirit? It will be found that those who are criticized have more to show for their efforts than those who criticize. The names of the humble workers are stamped on the books of heaven with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Matthew 25:23.] But opposite the names of the critics stand the words, “Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting.” [Daniel 5:27.] 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 13

You have had educational advantages. But God has not imparted His gifts to you to be used in disparaging another man’s work. The Lord has not told you to enter into another man’s field, to rob him of the influence God has given him, to show how wise you are as contrasted with him. I pray that you may be converted. Unless you are changed in disposition and spirit, the gates of heaven will be closed against you. 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 14

Life’s best things—simplicity, honesty, truthfulness, purity, unsullied integrity—are not to be bought or sold; they are as free to the illiterate as to the educated, to the white man as to the black man, to the poor man as to the king upon his throne. 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 15

Read and study the first chapter of first Corinthians, and see if you cannot get back into right lines of work. God is leading out a people, preparing them for translation. Are we who are acting a part in this work standing as sentinels for God? Are we seeking to labor unitedly? Are we willing to be servants of all? Are we following in the footsteps of Jesus, our great Exemplar? 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 16

In the field of life we are all sowing seeds. As we sow, so shall we reap. Those who sow self-love, bitterness, jealousy, will reap a like harvest. Those who sow unselfish love, kindness, tender thoughtfulness for the feelings of others, will reap a precious harvest. 16LtMs, Lt 109, 1901, par. 17