Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 18

435/524

Ms 117, 1903

A Neglected Work

“Elmshaven,” St. Helena, California

September 24, 1903

Portions of this manuscript are published in WM 36-37, 43, 48, 217-218, 242; 8MR 197.

We are living amidst the perils of the last days. Are we ready for Christ’s appearing? Should He come suddenly, would He find us unready to meet Him? What is the matter with Christians, that they do not do more for the Master? There are many, many who know not the time of their visitation. Many are showing by the daily life that they have lost their first love. Their spirituality is feeble and diseased. They need the leaves of the tree of life, which are for the healing of the nations. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 1

God’s followers are to press together in unity. They are to walk and talk like men who have the fellowship of the Spirit. They are to be bound up with Christ in God. For ten days the disciples continued in one accord in prayer and supplication. These were days of heart-searching and confession of sin. They prayed for the impartation of the Spirit, and their prayers were heard. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 2

We must be united. Only thus can we bear witness that God has sent His Son to save sinners. It was when the disciples were one in heart and mind that the promise of the Spirit was fulfilled. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 3

My brethren and sisters, do not, by professing to be Christians, yet living the life of a sinner, place before the feet of unbelievers stones of stumbling. Let the light of the life of Christ shine out through your lives. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 4

Who Is My Neighbor?

On one occasion, when Christ was speaking to a large company, the Pharisees, hoping to catch something from His lips that they could use to condemn Him, sent a lawyer to Him with the question, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Christ read the hearts of the Pharisees as an open book, and His answer to the questioner was, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” [Luke 10:25-27.] 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 5

“Thou hast answered right,” Christ said; “this do, and thou shalt live.” [Verse 28.] 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 6

The lawyer knew that by his own answer he had condemned himself. He knew that he did not love his neighbor as himself. But willing to justify himself, he asked, “And who is my neighbor?” [Verse 29.] 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 7

Christ answered this question by relating an incident, the memory of which was fresh in the minds of His hearers. “A certain man,” He said, “went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” [Verse 30.] 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 8

In journeying from Jerusalem to Jericho, the traveler had to pass through a portion of the wilderness of Judea. The road led down a wild, rocky ravine, which was infested with robbers and was often the scene of violence. It was here that the traveler was attacked, stripped of all that was valuable, and left half dead by the wayside. As he lay thus, a priest came that way: he saw the man lying wounded and bruised, weltering in his own blood; but he left him without rendering any assistance. “He passed by on the other side.” Then a Levite appeared. Curious to know what had happened, he stopped and looked at the sufferer. He was convicted of what he ought to do, but it was not an agreeable duty. He wished that he had not come that way. He persuaded himself that the case was no concern of his, and he too “passed by on the other side.” [Verses 31, 32.] 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 9

But a Samaritan, traveling the same road, saw the sufferer, and he did the work that the others had refused to do. With gentleness and kindness he ministered to the wounded man. “When he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” [Verses 33-35.] The priest and the Levite both professed piety, but the Samaritan showed that he was truly converted. It was no more agreeable for him to do the work than for the priest and Levite, but in spirit and works he proved himself to be in harmony with God. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 10

The lawyer found in the lesson nothing that he could criticize. But he had not overcome his national dislike sufficiently to give credit to the Samaritan by name. When Christ asked, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves,” he answered, “He that showed mercy on him.” [Verses 36, 37.] 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 11

“Then Jesus said unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” [Verse 37.] Show the same tender kindness to those in need. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 12

Thus you will give evidence that you keep the whole law. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 13

The priest and Levite had no excuse for their cold-hearted indifference. The law of mercy and kindness was plainly stated in the Old Testament Scriptures. It was their appointed work to minister to just such cases as the one whom they had coldly passed by. Had they obeyed the law they claimed to respect, they would not have passed this man by without helping him. But they had forgotten the principles of the law that Christ, enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, had given to their fathers as He led them through the wilderness. They looked upon it as beneath them to minister to an unknown sufferer by the wayside. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 14

Many today are making the same mistake made by the priest and the Levite. They separate their duties into two distinct classes. The one class is made up of great things, to be regulated by the law of God; the other class is made up of so-called little things, in which the command “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” is ignored. [Leviticus 19:18.] This sphere of work is left to caprice, subject to inclination or impulse. Thus the character is marred and the religion of Christ misrepresented. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 15

The same one that said to Moses, “Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee forever” [Exodus 19:9], condescended to come to our world in the garb of humanity. The only begotten Son of God became a helpless babe in Bethlehem. It was He who was now speaking to the Jewish people, but they knew Him not. From the mount He had spoken, saying, “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” [Exodus 20:2.] He was now standing before them in His assumed humanity, giving them a lesson that they would never forget, whether they heeded it or disregarded it. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 16

Who is my neighbor? This is a question that all our churches need to understand. Had the priest and the Levite read understandingly the Hebrew code, their treatment of the wounded man would have been far different. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 17

The laws given to Israel guard especially the interests of those who need help. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 18

“Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.” [Exodus 22:21-24.] 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 19

Let those in our churches, and those who stand in positions of responsibility in our institutions, learn from these words how carefully the Lord guards the interests of those who cannot help themselves. He hears the cry of the widow for her fatherless children. He will surely bring into judgment those who disregard the rules that He has laid down to shield them from harm. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 20

And yet, in spite of the warnings that God has given, there are those who are not afraid to do injustice to the widow and the fatherless. The Word of the Lord has come to them, but they would not change their course in order to help the needy. They turned their ears away from the plea of the fatherless. The tears and prayers of the widow were nothing to them. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 21

With those who dare to deal without mercy, God will deal as they have dealt with those who besought them for aid. I have been instructed that the blind have often been dealt with in a merciless way. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 22

True sympathy between man and his fellow man is to be the sign distinguishing those who love and fear God from those who are unmindful of His law. How great the sympathy that Christ expressed in coming to this world to give His life a sacrifice for a dying world. His religion led to the doing of genuine medical missionary work. He was a healing power. “I will have mercy and not sacrifice,” He said. [Matthew 9:13.] This is the test that the great Author of truth used to distinguish between true religion and false. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 23

God wants His medical missionaries to act with the tenderness and compassion that Christ would show were He in our world. Is it not time that we understood that not a sparrow falls to the ground without the notice of our heavenly Father? Will not the Lord visit with judgments those who have disobeyed His Word? Money will relieve the blind. Sympathy can be exercised toward a wrongdoer who has confessed his sin and pleads for another trial. But often such an one has been turned away without a thought in regard to the Word of the Lord. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 24

I am instructed to place these matters before those who have misrepresented the great Medical Missionary. Is it not time that we began to understand that God is in earnest with us? God declares that He will not bear with the continued transgression of those who have had great light, but who, because their hearts are filled with prejudice, refuse to relieve the suffering of those who ask their sympathy. As they have dealt with those who cried for help, so will they be dealt with. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 25

I am sorry to write of these things, but I know that unless this wrong is put away from our institutions, unless medical missionary work is carried on with the tender compassion that Christ designed should be revealed through it, the truth will be greatly dishonored. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 26

The Lord calls for deep searching of heart. “Repent, and be converted,” He says, “that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” [Acts 3:19.] 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 27

God is not pleased with the variance and strife and discord that exist among us. He calls for a blending of heart with heart. Time is fast passing. The end is near. Were Christ to come today, could we meet Him with peace? 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 28

There is abundant reason why we have not more of the power of God’s grace, why our light does not shine more brightly. Christ says, “You have left your first love.” “Except you repent, I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place.” [Revelation 2:4, 5.] 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 29

Shall we not humble ourselves before God in behalf of those who apparently have little spiritual life? Shall we not have appointed seasons of prayer for them? Shall we not pray every day for those who seem to be dead in trespasses and sins? As we plead with God to break the hearts of stone, our own hearts will become more sensitive. We shall be quicker to see our own sin. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 30

If we believe the Word of God, we must know that we are in a perilous condition. To those who feel that they are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing, God says, “Thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed; and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” [Revelation 3:17-20.] 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 31

My brethren, will you hear this Word? Will those connected with our institutions clear away the rubbish from the door of their hearts, and let Jesus in? Will they pray with strong crying and tears, as Christ prayed for just such blind, ignorant ones as those who are now professedly serving Him, but who are in reality exalting themselves? Cast the root of bitterness out of your hearts; for thereby many are being defiled. 18LtMs, Ms 117, 1903, par. 32