Gospel Workers (1892/1893 ed.)


Courage in the Lord

Some are teaching the truth to others, when they themselves need to be taught the first principles of the Christian religion. They are at war with God through his providence. They watch for something to feel bad about; and they never fail to find it, for the faultfinding spirit is in their hearts and controls their lives. They are always dissatisfied. Their work is too hard, they are not appreciated, or they do not receive sufficient compensation. If anything crosses their track, they draw back like pettish children, forgetting that as Christ's servants they should not be affected by the course of any man. This spirit savors of Satan, and those who manifest it are thereby yielding to his control. GW92 438.1

Ministers of this class are a sore affliction to their brethren in the ministry and to the church. They are a constant source of anxiety and care, and the harm they do the cause of God, eternity alone will reveal. You never know where to find them; for they are like the weather-vane, and change with every change of circumstances. One day they appear to be humble and affected by the Spirit of God, and our hopes are awakened; but the next day something occurs which drifts them into another current, and they are harder to get along with than a willful child; for while they are children in self-control, they are men in years and stature, and cannot be corrected like a child. They do not know what harm they do by their want of self-control. While they feel under no obligations to restrain the natural impulses of the heart, what right have they to take the position of guides to the flock? The Lord has said through his apostle, “Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way.” [Hebrews 12:13.] Any crooked path the leader may take, prepares the way for the weak to be turned aside from the path of safety. GW92 438.2

These men do not see themselves; for they look through Satan's deceptive glasses. They do not know that they are contending with God by resisting the efforts of his servants in their behalf. They may once have known the love of Christ, but they have not kept faith in exercise, and it is harder to reach their hearts than it is to move those who have never been converted. They do not so readily yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit, for they have stifled conviction, and have not been obedient hearers of the word. GW92 439.1

Some are in great peril through self-esteem. If they have a measure of success, Satan suggests to them that they are men of talent; and there are men and women professing godliness who help him in his work by repeating his suggestion. The man who is praised for his ability learns to rely on his own understanding, and does not feel his need of help from above. Selfishness becomes a ruling principle with him, his soul is spotted and marred by self-exaltation, and the weakness of his character is made manifest. The Lord leaves such persons to go on in their self-sufficiency, to work without his grace and special help; and they congratulate themselves that they have his blessing, when they are walking in the sparks of their own kindling. All this labor is a positive injury; for it blocks the way against the efficient labor of devoted men. These persons need humble, pure religion, which is not tainted with self-exaltation. Jesus says to them, as he said to Peter, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” [Luke 22:32.] GW92 439.2

The part we have to act is to return to the Lord by confessing our sins to him and to one another. A broken and contrite heart he will not despise; but our self-righteousness is in his sight as filthy rags. With many, self is whole; but when they fall upon the Rock, and are broken, then the arms of Jesus will encircle them, and draw them close to his great heart of love. God will not do for us that which we can do for ourselves; but he has said, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” And when we comply with the conditions, he will fulfill his word. GW92 440.1

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” We do not see ourselves as God sees us; therefore we do not see the necessity of repentance, of humility, and of continual reliance upon him. There are efforts made in our own strength, but there is not a dying to self; the soul is not surrendered to God. Many are making a mistake here. They are hoping to overcome through their own efforts, and by their goodness gain the assurance of the love of God. They do not exercise faith; they do not believe that Jesus accepts their repentance and contrition, and so they toil on day after day without finding rest or peace. When the heart is fully surrendered to God, love springs up in the soul, and the yoke of Christ is easy, and his burden light. The will is swallowed up in God's will, and that which was a cross, becomes a pleasure. GW92 440.2

When, in well doing, the keeping of the soul is committed to God as unto a faithful Creator, the light will shine upon our pathway, and it will grow brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. But it must be in well doing. We may profess Christ, and yet deny him in our lives. If our words and acts are not in accordance with his character, if we manifest selfishness, if we have a complaining spirit, if we indulge in light and trifling conversation, if we love worldly amusements more than we love God, if we take no pleasure in self-denial for Christ's sake, can we suppose that God is our guide and counselor? There must be entire obedience to God; then our hearts will be in harmony with the spirit that pervades heaven, and benevolence and brotherly love will be in active exercise. GW92 441.1

Trials and temptations may come; but the child of God, whether minister or layman, knows that Jesus is his helper. Although we may be weak and helpless in ourselves, all the forces of heaven are at the command of the believing child of God, and the hosts of hell cannot make him depart from the right course if he will cling to God by living faith. Temptation is no sin; the sin is in yielding to temptation. “Count it all joy,” says the apostle James, “when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” God permits us to be placed under circumstances that will test us, to increase our love and to perfect our trust in him. Through self-denial and suffering with Christ, we grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. Trials will come, but they are an evidence that we are children of God. Paul passed through great trials, but he did not despair as though his Father in heaven were dead. He rejoiced in tribulation; for he desired, through participations in the sufferings of Christ, to be conformed to his image. Let this hero of faith speak for himself. He says, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake.” [2 Corinthians 12:10.] GW92 441.2

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.... No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” [Matthew 6:22-24.] Those who have an eye single to the glory of God, will manifest in their lives the loveliness and purity of Christ's character. The enemy will not be able to pervert their understanding, causing them to view things in a false light, and misjudge the words and motives of their brethren. They will not plan how they may gain approbation; neither will they be so deeply affected by any course that may be pursued toward them that they will give up in discouragement. Shall they forsake their post of duty because they are slighted, or imagine that they are not appreciated? No; they will seek to honor him whose servants they are. They have the Captain of their salvation to please, his orders to obey, and they will leave the result with him. GW92 442.1

Brethren, if the eye be single, you will have well-balanced minds, and in principle you will be firm as a rock. You will remember that the eye of God is upon you, overseeing your labor; and you will move on from strength to strength, from grace to grace, gathering rays of light to reflect upon the pathway of others. Be strong in the grace of Christ, and let your hearts be filled with love to God and to one another. Remember that if you are partakers of the sufferings of Christ, you shall be also of the consolation. Though sorrowful, you may be “alway rejoicing.” [2 Corinthians 6:10.] Brethren, have courage in the Lord. GW92 442.2