Gospel Workers 1915

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Paul's Discretion

The minister must not feel that the whole truth is to be spoken to unbelievers on any and every occasion. He should study carefully when to speak, what to say, and what to leave unsaid. This is not practicing deception; it is working as Paul worked. “Though I be free from all men,” he wrote to the Corinthians, “yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” [1 Corinthians 9:19-22.] GW 117.2

Paul did not approach the Jews in such a way as to arouse their prejudices. He did not at first tell them that they must believe in Jesus of Nazareth; but dwelt upon the prophecies that spoke of Christ, His mission and His work. Step by step he led his hearers on, showing the importance of honoring the law of God. He gave due honor to the ceremonial law, showing that it was Christ who instituted the Jewish economy and the sacrificial service. Then he brought them down to the first advent of the Redeemer, and showed that in the life and death of Christ every specification of the sacrificial service had been fulfilled. GW 118.1

The Gentiles, Paul approached by exalting Christ, and then presenting the binding claims of the law. He showed how the light reflected by the cross of Calvary gave significance and glory to the whole Jewish economy. GW 118.2

Thus the apostle varied his manner of labor, shaping his message to the circumstances under which he was placed. After patient labor he was successful to a large degree; yet there were many who would not be convinced. Some there are today who will not be convinced by any method of presenting the truth; and the laborer for God is to study carefully the best methods, that he may not arouse prejudice or combativeness. This is where some have failed. By following their natural inclinations, they have closed doors through which they might, by a different method of labor, have found access to hearts, and through them to other hearts. GW 118.3

God's workmen must be many-sided men; that is, they must have breadth of character. They are not to be one-idea men, stereotyped in their manner of working, unable to see that their advocacy of truth must vary with the class of people among whom they work and the circumstances they have to meet. GW 119.1

There is delicate work for the minister to do as he meets with alienation, bitterness, and opposition. More than others, he needs that wisdom which “is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” [James 3:17.] As the dew and the still showers fall gently upon withering plants, so his words are to fall gently when he proclaims the truth. He is to win souls, not to repulse them. He is to study to be skilful when there are no rules to meet the case. GW 119.2

Many souls have been turned in the wrong direction, and thus lost to the cause of God, by a lack of skill and wisdom on the part of the worker. Tact and good judgment increase the usefulness of the laborer a hundred-fold. If he will speak the right words at the right time, and show the right spirit, this will exert a melting power on the heart of the one he is trying to help. GW 119.3