Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 22

288/354

Ms 113, 1907

“Judge Not”

NP

October 21, 1907 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in UL 308.

The work of judging his brother has not been placed upon any man. “Judge not,” the Saviour says, “that ye be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” [Matthew 7:1, 2.] He who takes upon himself the work of judging and criticizing others lays himself open to the same degree of judgment and criticism. Those who are ready to condemn their brethren would do well to examine their own works and character. Such an examination, honestly made, will reveal the fact that they too have defects of character and have made grave blunders in their work. If the great Judge should deal with men as they deal with their fellow workers, they would regard Him as unkind and unmerciful. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 1

“Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye,” the Saviour asked, “and considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” [Verses 3-5.] 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 2

The scribes and Pharisees were very rigid in their rules, very severe in their judgment of others, and unmerciful in condemning. They exalted themselves as judges among the people; and while they justified the course of forbidden action that they themselves indulged in, they were quick to condemn with scornful words the course of others, even of those whom God was using to do His work. Their criticism of Christ and His disciples was severe and denouncing and placed them in a false light before the people. To the view of the Pharisee his individual sins were as the mote, but that which he saw to condemn in others he represented as a beam. Christ declared to such, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” [Verse 5.] 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 3

Christ did not make Himself a judge among men; but He was heaven-appointed to lay down correct principles for the rule of the human family. He appoints agencies to carry out these principles; and “by Him princes decree justice.” [Proverbs 8:15.] In the advancement of His cause in the earth, He would have men appointed to deal with the erring who will be kind and considerate, and whose characters reveal the similitude of the divine—men who will show the wisdom of Christ in dealing with matters that should be kept private, and who, when a work of correction and reproof must be done, will know how to keep silence before those whom it does not concern. Unbelievers should not be given opportunity to make God’s people, be they ministers or laymen, the objects of their suspicion and unrighteous judgment. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 4

When it becomes necessary for a minister to do a work of correction, he should be very careful to act righteously and wisely. He is not to denounce the erring harshly before those who know not the truth. The unconverted judge the servants of God by such actions and conclude that this cannot be the work of God. Those who are not of our faith, but who are convicted of the truth, when they see a lack of unity among the ministers who claim to be obeying the truth, close the door of their hearts, saying, We want none of these things. Thus by the exercise of unsanctified speech, souls are turned from the truth and an example given that opens the way for the things of truth and righteousness to be lowered in the dust. Our workers, when tempted to speak hasty words of criticism and judgment, should remember that silence is golden. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 5

I am instructed to bear this message to ministers: Judge not after the desire of your own mind. Do not, in order to carry out your own plans, bring forward that which will condemn another. Such a work is not a work of righteousness and is one which God forbids. If you are under the sweet influence of Christ’s Spirit, it is your privilege to give counsel to your brother; but if you are not under the direction of the Spirit of God, keep silence. It is God’s prerogative to judge, not man’s. Man is debarred from the seat of judgment by the words of Christ, “Judge not, that ye be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” [Matthew 7:1, 2.] 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 6

My brethren, the time has come for every man to examine critically his own case. The time has come for men to keep their words of fault-finding for their individual selves. Let those who have been free to express their ideas regarding the error of their brother’s course examine their own lives by the light of the Word of God. There is a great work of reconversion to be done before the way for the Lord’s coming shall be prepared. Men and women who have long professed to serve the Lord need to experience the quickening power of the Holy Spirit. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 7

Great care should be exercised in choosing men to occupy positions of responsibility as guardians of the churches. My brethren, do not make this choice blindly, lest the flock of God be given an example that will teach them to tear and devour. The men who bear responsibilities in the cause of Christ should be men of prayer and humility. They are to act like men who in all their dealings with their brethren are guided by the Spirit of God. They are to give an example of righteousness. They are to sacredly guard the reputation of those who are doing the work of God. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 8

I have been shown that some of the leaders in the work have acted the part of an inconsiderate father who loses control of his words and spirit, and who acts severely with his children because he supposes it necessary to show his authority. Often such a father, in exercising his ruling power, gives an example of passion and injustice which strengthens the evil. The parent who deals thus with his child does it a great wrong and needs to turn his indignation and censure against himself. I have been instructed to say that those workers who have carried this spirit into their labors and plans in the conference are as surely stumbling blocks to souls as is the inconsistent parent to his child. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 9

God never intended that in His work the mind of one man should control the mind of another. Those who are trying to carry out their personal plans should carefully consider whether they are following the example of Him who said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me; so shall he be My disciple.” [See Matthew 16:24; John 15:8.] Those who follow in the footsteps of Christ will not act the part of an accuser, passing judgment on those whom they suppose make mistakes. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 10

My ministering brethren, the traits of character that lead you into the sin of judging are to be discerned, and repented of, and put away. If you will do this, Christ will accept you as laborers together with God. But unless you comprehend the spiritual nature of the character that must be formed within you, you will never see the kingdom of heaven. Never, never magnify self. God has held some back from spoiling their future usefulness, and He says of these, If they will repent and walk humbly before Me, I will forgive their sins, and I will co-operate with their labors for the salvation of men. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 11

We have a most solemn message to bear to the world. Let those who suppose that they are to have authority remember that they are men under authority. A power higher than that of any earthly potentate is to rule them. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 12

A Lesson from the Ministry of John the Baptist

On one occasion the Jewish rulers sent messengers to John the Baptist to make the inquiry, “Who art thou?” John “confessed and denied not, but confessed, I am not that Christ. And they asked him, What then, Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as saith the prophet Esaias.” [John 1:19-23.] 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 13

Had the minds of his hearers been keen to recognize spiritual truth, they would have discerned the significance of John’s words. Allusion was made to a custom prevailing in those eastern countries. When a monarch was about to make a journey, men were sent before him to clear obstructions from the way, that the king might travel in safety and without hindrance. “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” John declared. “Make straight the way of the Lord.” [Verse 23.] 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 14

“Why baptizest thou then,” the messengers asked, “if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?” [Verse 25.] To the listening people John the Baptist looked as if he might be the prophet Elijah. His authoritative proclamation, his manner as he spoke of himself as the messenger of the coming One, aroused a great expectation in the hearts of the people. The Jews had studied only one side of this question. To them the Messiah was to be a mighty Prince who would work powerfully in their behalf. “John answered them saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not. He it is who coming after me, is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latched I am not worthy to unloose.” [Verses 26, 27.] 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 15

None who listened to the words of John and marked the earnestness of his manner could doubt that he referred to the Christ who had been so long promised to the world. The messengers from Jerusalem had their answer. The message they were to carry back to the rulers at Jerusalem was decided and unequivocal. The Messiah was among them. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 16

There was much in the places about them to remind the Jews of God’s wonderful works for them in the past. Just below where John was baptizing, God’s power had divided the waters, making a path for the Israelites to cross the Jordan and to pass on to the promised land. Not many miles away stood Jericho whose walls had fallen before the command of the prince of heaven. What might they not expect if the Messiah had actually come to earth! The whole nation was stirred. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 17

“Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the tree; therefore every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire; whose fan is in his hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather the wheat into the garner: but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” [Matthew 3:5-12.] 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 18

The doctrine that John preached was first repentance for past sins. Then “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Verse 2.] They must show repentance toward God; then they would be prepared to show faith in the One who was about to declare Himself unto them. Truth must be allowed to exercise its cleansing power upon the lives of these rulers. To those who were untaught in the oracles of God, it was enough for John to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” But when the Baptist saw the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he was stirred to give them a decided message. These men held themselves as a power among the people. Though they held different theories regarding some Bible subjects, they were united in their desire to hear the words of the wilderness prophet. Some who came from curiosity, arrested by his words, became interested in the message he was giving and were moved to be baptized. To them John said, “Bring forth fruits meet for repentance.” [Verse 8.] Christ was about to appear as the revealer of the character of God. His very presence would make known to men their sin. Only as they were willing to be purged from sin could they enter into fellowship with Him. Those who were corrupt in heart could not abide in His presence. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 19

Multitudes accepted the preaching of John and followed him from place to place. Many cherished in their hearts the hope that he was the Messiah. But as John saw the people turning to him, he sought to direct their minds to the coming One. Later, Christ, speaking of John and his mission, declared, “What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled live in king’s courts. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold I send My messenger before thy face, which shall prepare the way before Thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” [Luke 7:24-28.] 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 20

In this age, just prior to the second coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven, such a work as that of John the Baptist is to be done. God calls for men who will prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. The message preceding the public ministry of Christ was, “Repent, publicans and sinners; repent, Pharisees and Sadducees; ‘repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” [Matthew 3:2.] As a people who believe in Christ’s soon appearing, we have a message to bear, “Prepare to meet thy God.” [Amos 4:12.] Our message is to be as direct as was the message of John. He rebuked kings for their iniquity. Notwithstanding that his life was imperiled, he did not hesitate to declare God’s word. And our work in this age must be done as faithfully. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 21

In order to give such a message as John gave, we must have a spiritual experience like his. The same work must be wrought in us. We must behold God, and in beholding Him lose sight of self. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 22

John had by nature the faults and weaknesses common to humanity; but the touch of divine love had transformed him. When, after Christ’s ministry began, the disciples of John came to him with the complaint that all men were following the new teacher, John showed how clearly he understood his relation to the Messiah, and how gladly he welcomed the One for whom he had prepared the way. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 23

“A man can receive nothing,” he said, “except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” [John 3:27-30.] 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 24

Looking in faith to the Redeemer, John had risen to the height of self-abnegation. He sought not to attract men to himself, but to lift their thoughts higher and still higher, until they should rest upon the Lamb of God. He himself had been only a voice, a cry in the wilderness. Now with joy he accepted silence and obscurity, that the eyes of all might be turned to the light of Life. 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 25

Those who are true to their calling as messengers for God will not seek honor for themselves. Love for self will be swallowed up in love for Christ. They will recognize that it is their work to proclaim, as did John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29.] They will lift up Jesus, and with Him humanity will be lifted up. “Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” [Isaiah 57:15.] 22LtMs, Ms 113, 1907, par. 26