Gospel Workers (1892/1893 ed.)


Humility and Faithfulness in Laborers

Ministers should live close to Jesus, that they may rightly represent him to others. He has set them an example in his own ministry. They should labor for souls with the same unselfish love that characterized his labors. They have something more to do than merely to preach in the desk. This is only the beginning of their work. They are overseers of the flock; and it is their duty to “feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” [Acts 20:28.] They are required to watch for souls “as they that must give account;” [Hebrews 13:17.] and they need clear discernment, that no wrong influence may pervert their work. GW92 447.2

Those who are convicted of sin by the Spirit of God, need the assistance of loving, kindly labor, that the work of grace may be carried forward to completion. This labor for souls is a part of the ministry that God requires of his servants; but it is a part that is sadly neglected by some. They do not realize their responsibility, nor know how to deal with souls. GW92 448.1

Some ministers choose for their sermons subjects that will please the people and offend none. This is shunning the cross of Christ. You see one man selfish; another controlled by pride or passion; another robbing God in tithes and offerings; and another doubting and unbelieving. Do not leave these deceived ones to remain blinded by the enemy in regard to their own spiritual standing. For each of these there is a special message in the word of God. Pray for wisdom that you may be able so to present the instructions of that sacred word that all may see wherein their characters are defective, and what is required of them in order to conform to the true standard. Win their confidence and affection. Bring the truth as it is in Jesus to bear upon their hearts; for there is no other power that can keep the soul steadfast. The truth, planted in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and nourished by divine grace, is our only safeguard against Satan's devices. Thus you are labor till you can present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. GW92 448.2

This personal labor is not the most agreeable work; it involves a cross. Nevertheless, ministers have no right to shun the responsibilities laid upon them. To deal wisely and truly with souls is a work that calls for special help from God. A faithful performance of the duties assigned to his servants would drive every worker in the vineyard of the Lord to his closet in earnest intercession for divine aid. The love of God in the heart will lead them to make earnest appeals,—to warn, entreat, and reprove. If this work is neglected, souls will continue in sin, confirmed in a wrong course by those who have spoken to them only smooth things. GW92 448.3

The apostle Paul felt the importance of faithfulness. He says of his own ministry in Christ, “whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” [Colossians 1:28, 29.] And he exhorts Timothy, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.” [2 Timothy 4:2.] This is in accordance with the word which through the prophet Isaiah the Lord has spoken to the watchmen on the walls of Zion: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” [Isaiah 58:1.] GW92 449.1

Ministers would be more successful in their labor if they would talk less of self and more of Christ. Of ourselves, we have no power to reach hearts; it is only by divine aid that we can find access to them. Brethren, teach the people to rely upon Jesus; lead them to feel that they are not dependent upon the minister, but must have an experience for themselves. The minister is not infallible. He may err; ambition and unhallowed passion may burn in his heart; envy may mar his work; he may defraud God of the glory due to his name, by so laboring that the credit of success will be given to the poor, erring, finite instrument. The true laborer will take care that his hearers understand the leading points of our faith, and that they keep distinctly in mind the old landmarks, the way by which the Lord has led his people. He will teach them to look to God for themselves, expecting the outpouring of his Spirit. If those who profess to be teachers of the truth teach their own ideas independent of the opinions of their brethren, they should be labored with as unfaithful in their work. One who feels at liberty to advance what he chooses and keep back what he chooses, should not be encouraged to labor in the ministry; for he is failing to prepare a people to stand in the day of the Lord. GW92 449.2

It is not the best way to have one or two ministers go over the same ground again and again. There should be an interchange of laborers. They should not be confined to one field, but should labor in different Conferences, that the churches may have the benefit of their differing gifts. When this was done in the past, greater success attended the laborers. GW92 450.1

Brethren, the Lord will help you, if you seek his help; but do not exalt self, do not call the attention of the people to self. There is a spirit of worldliness coming into the church, and it must be firmly met and rebuked. Unless we humble our hearts before God, unless we seek him earnestly, we shall be overcome by the temptations of Satan; and those whom we neglect to warn, to reprove, to exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine, will he ensnared by his devices, and we shall not be guiltless. GW92 450.2

We shall none of us be saved for our own merits; the rewards of eternity are purchased by Christ, and in no case merited by man; yet ministers should remember that every man will receive according as his works have been. The trials of the great assize will proceed most accurately on the basis of works, and our listlessness and want of zeal will tell on its decisions. The parable of the talents illustrates this subject. One man becomes ruler over ten cities, another over five, another over two. Each receives in exact proportion to his work,—to the improvement he has made on the talents lent him of God; and it is the privilege of each to strive for the highest recompense. GW92 450.3

The thought should be ever present with us that we must meet the record of our lives, that we are building character for eternity. The influence of our words and acts will live, and will decide the destiny of souls. Angels of God are writing the history of our lives; let us be careful that the record is such as we shall not be ashamed to meet when the Judgment shall sit, and we shall receive according to the deeds done in the body. GW92 451.1

If we are living branches of the True Vine, we shall bear fruit to the glory of God. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” [Matthew 7:20.] GW92 451.2