Meeting Prejudice and Opposition

[See also pp. 445, 446, “Prejudice Broken Down.”]

Opposition—Those who introduce the leaven of truth amid the mass of false theories and doctrines may expect opposition. Satan's batteries will be opened upon those who advocate the truth, and the standard bearers must expect to meet many sneers, and much reviling that is hard to bear.—The Review and Herald, October 14, 1902. Ev 301.1

Reformation Creates Opposition—Jesus and His disciples were surrounded with bigotry, pride, prejudice, unbelief, and hatred. Men were filled with false doctrines, and nothing but united, persistent endeavor could be attended with any measure of success; but the great work of saving souls could not be laid aside because there were difficulties to surmount. It was written of the Son of God that He should “not fail nor be discouraged.” Ev 301.2

There is a great work before us. The work that engages the interest and activity of heaven is committed to the church of Christ. Jesus said: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” The work for our time is attended with the same difficulties that Jesus had to meet, and that the reformers of every age have had to overcome; and we must set our wills on the side of Christ, and move forward with firm confidence in God.—The Review and Herald, March 13, 1888. Ev 301.3

Prejudice Rejects Light—There is in the heart of man that which is opposed to truth and righteousness.... Christ's miraculous power gave evidence that He was the Son of God. In the cities of Judah overwhelming evidence was given of the divinity and mission of Christ.... But prejudice is hard to deal with, even by Him who is Light and Truth, and the prejudice that filled the hearts of the Jews would not allow them to accept the evidence given. With scorn they rejected the claims of Christ.—Manuscript 104, 1898. Ev 302.1

Holding to the Affirmative the Best Way—Often, as you seek to present the truth, opposition will be aroused; but if you seek to meet the opposition with argument, you will only multiply it, and this you cannot afford to do. Hold to the affirmative. Angels of God are watching you, and they understand how to impress those whose opposition you refuse to meet with arguments. Dwell not on the negative points of questions that arise, but gather to your minds affirmative truths, and fasten them there by much study, earnest prayer, and heart consecration. Keep your lamps trimmed and burning, and let bright rays shine forth, that men, beholding your good works, may be led to glorify your Father who is in heaven. Ev 302.2

If Christ had not held to the affirmative in the wilderness of temptation, He would have lost all that He desired to gain. Christ's way is the best way to meet our opponents. We strengthen their arguments when we repeat what they say. Keep always to the affirmative. It may be that the very man who is opposing you will carry your words home, and be converted to the sensible truth that has reached his understanding. Ev 302.3

I have often said to our brethren: Your opponents will make statements about your work that are false. Do not repeat their statements, but hold to your assertions of the living truth; and angels of God will open the way before you. We have a great work to carry forward, and we must carry it in a sensible way. Let us never get excited, or allow evil feelings to arise. Christ did not do this, and He is our example in all things. For the work given us to do we need much more of heavenly, sanctified, humble wisdom, and much less of self. We need to lay hold firmly on divine power.—Testimonies For The Church 9:147, 148 (1909). Ev 302.4

When Opposed—Guard the Tongue—When opposed, you will be in danger of retaliating in a sharp debating manner, if you are not constantly softened and subdued by the contemplation of Christ, and have a heart to pray, “Be Thou my pattern.” Looking unto Jesus constantly, catching His spirit, you will be able to present the truth as it is in Jesus.... Ev 303.1

Love must be the prevailing element in all our work. In the representation of others who do not believe as we do, every speaker must guard against making statements that will appear severe and like judging. Present the truth, and let the truth, the Holy Spirit of God, act as a reprover, as a judge; but let not your words bruise and wound the soul.... Ev 303.2

Let not one rasping word be spoken. Let all sharp speeches that you are disposed to make, be kept to your individual self. Be as true as steel to principle, wise as a serpent, but harmless as a dove. If your words are not to hurt anyone, you will have to speak only the words that you are sure will not be harsh and cold and severe.... Of all the people in the world, reformers should be the most unselfish, the kindest, the most courteous, learning Christ's ways and words and works.—Letter 11, 1894. Ev 303.3

The Spirit of Controversy—Do not cherish a spirit of controversy. Little good is accomplished by denunciatory speeches. The surest way to destroy false doctrine is to preach the truth. Keep to the affirmative. Let the precious truths of the gospel kill the force of evil. Show a tender, pitiful spirit toward the erring. Come close to hearts.—Letter 190, 1902. Ev 304.1

Sarcasm Offensive—When in your discourses, you denounce with bitter sarcasm that which you wish to condemn, you sometimes offend your hearers, and their ears are turned from hearing you further. Carefully avoid any severity of speech that might give offense to those you desire to save from error; for it will be difficult to overcome the feelings of antagonism thus aroused.... Ev 304.2

If you will weed out the tares from your discourses, your influence for good will be increased.—Letter 366, 1906. Ev 304.3

Not to Invite Persecution—Let everyone bear in mind that we are in no case to invite persecution. We are not to use words that are harsh and cutting. Keep them out of every article written, drop them out of every address given. Let the Word of God do the cutting, the rebuking; let finite men hide and abide in Jesus Christ. Let the Spirit of Christ appear. Let all be guarded in their words, lest they place those not of our faith in deadly opposition against us, and give Satan an opportunity to use the unadvised words to hedge up our way.... Ev 304.4

We all need more of the deep love of Jesus in the soul, and far less of the natural impetuosity. We are in danger of closing up our own path by arousing the determined spirit of opposition in men in authority, before the people are really enlightened in regard to the message God would have us bear. God is not pleased when by our own course of action we bar the way so that the truth is prevented from coming to the people.—Manuscript 95, 1894. Ev 304.5

Opposition Advertises Truth—Satan is fruitful in bringing up devices to evade the truth. But I call upon you to believe the words I speak today. Truth of heavenly origin is confronting Satan's falsehoods, and this truth will prevail.... Opposition and resistance only serve to bring out truth in new, distinct lines. The more truth is spoken against, the brighter it will shine. Thus the precious ore is polished. Every word of slander spoken against it, every misrepresentation of its value, awakens attention, and is the means of leading to closer investigation as to what is saving truth. The truth becomes more highly estimated. New beauty and greater value are revealed from every point of view.—Manuscript 8a, 1888. Ev 305.1

Treat Opponents With Respect—We must expect to meet unbelief and opposition. The truth has always had to contend with these elements. But though you should meet the bitterest opposition, do not denounce your opponents. They may think, as did Paul, that they are doing God service; and to such we must manifest patience, meekness, and long-suffering.... Ev 305.2

The Lord wants His people to follow other methods than that of condemning wrong, even though the condemnation is just. He wants us to do something more than to hurl at our adversaries charges that only drive them farther from the truth. The work which Christ came to do in our world was not to erect barriers, and constantly thrust upon the people the fact that they were wrong. He who expects to enlighten a deceived people must come near to them and labor for them in love. He must become a center of holy influence. Ev 305.3

In the advocacy of truth the bitterest opponents should be treated with respect and deference. Some will not respond to our efforts, but will make light of the gospel invitation. Others, even those whom we suppose to have passed the boundary of God's mercy, will be won to Christ. The very last work in the controversy may be the enlightenment of those who have not rejected light and evidence, but who have been in midnight darkness, and have in ignorance worked against the truth. Therefore treat every man as honest. Speak no word, do no deed, that will confirm any in unbelief.—Testimonies For The Church 6:120-122 (1900). Ev 306.1

Help in Every Emergency—Every teacher of the truth, every laborer together with God, will pass through searching, trying hours, when faith and patience will be severely tested. You are to be prepared by the grace of Christ to go forward, although apparent impossibilities obstruct the way. You have a present help in every time of emergency. The Lord allows you to meet obstacles, that you may seek unto Him who is your strength and sufficiency. Pray most earnestly for the wisdom that comes from God; He will open the way before you, and give you precious victories if you will walk humbly before Him.—Special Testimonies, Series A, 7:18. (1874). Ev 306.2