An Appeal to Our Ministers and Conference Committees

Personal Devotion Sadly Neglected

Those who have not lost their first love will have a care for the souls of those with whom they are associated; but if one in a responsible position is found whose morals are tainted with dishonesty or impurity, be on your guard that his godless spirit and example do not contaminate your soul, and so the contagion of evil spread. The moral tone of piety among us must be raised, and in order that it may be, we must take time for the personal culture of heart religion. Let each one feel, I must be an example in patience; I must do good whether others appreciate my motives or not; I must not stand allied with evil, or cover it with a mantle of false charity. Bible charity is not sentimentalism, but love in active exercise. To heal the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace, is called charity. To confederate together, to call sin holiness and truth, is called charity; but it is the counterfeit article. SpTA01b 30.2

The false and the spurious are in the world, and we should closely examine our hearts that we may know whether or not we possess genuine charity. Genuine charity will not create distrust and evil work. It will not blunt the sword of the Spirit so that it does no execution. Those who would cover evil under false charity, say to the sinner, “It shall be well with thee.” Thank God, there is a charity that will not be corrupted; there is a wisdom that cometh from above, that is (mark it) first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy, and the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. This is a description of heaven-born, heaven-bred charity. Charity hates the sin, but loves the sinner, and will warn him faithfully of his danger, pointing him to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. Sin is not to be cloaked, but to be taken away. The love that is of heavenly birth is a resistless power, and it can be obtained only by a living connection with God. Would you move the hearts of men, you must come into actual contact with the God of love. God must first take hold of you if you would take hold of others. SpTA01b 31.1

But instead of desiring such an exalted position as to become a laborer together with God, ministers and physicians, men of responsibility, seek pre-eminence among their brethren, and strive to obtain the highest wages for their services. Sin always attends such ambition. How faint is the line of demarkation between the church and the world! But why should you try to blend the service of God and mammon? The world's Redeemer has declared, “Ye cannot serve two masters.” The people of God can be united only through the power of the Holy Ghost, and this is the union which will stand the test. SpTA01b 31.2

Christ prayed that his people might be one as he and the Father were one. But can this union exist, can spiritual life be maintained, if you fail to associate with those of like precious faith in close Christian fellowship and devotion? If you think you can live a Christian life without taking advantage of Christian privileges, you are deceived by the enemy of your soul. I am terribly in earnest to cry aloud and spare not, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. In whatever occupation you may be, whether physicians, merchants, ministers, or men in other walks of life, you have no right to load yourselves down with heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, to be pressed under many and varied responsibilities, until you feel that you have no time to pray, and excuse yourself on the plea that you have so much to do. If you have much to do, how essential it is that you have the Lord God of Israel to stand by your side, that you may bear the yoke evenly with Him who was meek and lowly in heart. Christ says, “Without me ye can do nothing.” You may well be alarmed for your soul if you allow cares to supplant the truth of God in the heart. If your associates are worldlings who flatter you, telling you how smart you are, and what great things you can do, and you love this unhallowed nonsense, you may well feel that you are in peril; for your moral taste is perverted, your perceptions are blunted. You have forsaken the cool snow-waters of Lebanon for water that comes from another place. You cannot preserve your spirituality unless you feed on Christ, eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Every moment is charged with eternal responsibilities. In the dealings of man with his fellowman, every transaction may be marked with the highest integrity; and yet, though justice and equity mark your business affairs, you must not permit yourself to be so engrossed with the things of time that you will fail to give attention to the things of eternal interest. The mind and body must not be treated with indiscretion. You must not act presumptuously, for you are not your own, you have been bought with a price, and are under obligation to keep God's property in a good condition. You are not required to protract your labors until you are worn out and exhausted, and cannot engage in religious exercises for the preservation of spiritual health. When you make your spiritual prosperity a thing of secondary importance, you abuse the property of God. By undue devotion to business, you defraud the soul of the opportunity to feast upon the words of eternal life, and so receive not the sustenance and inspiration necessary for the maintenance of spiritual life. Thus you fail to become the light of the world, and cannot represent your professed Lord to the people with whom you associate. SpTA01b 32.1

It is true that every moment is precious, and not one of them is to be wasted; but it is when you obtain the grace of the Holy Spirit through faith in God that you are qualified for the performance of your various duties, and can work with an eye single to the glory of God. Look at the days and weeks and months of the past, and see if your life service has not been one long, complicated robbery of God, because you have failed to remember him, and have left eternity out of your reckoning. By neglecting spiritual things, you have not only robbed your own soul, but the souls of your family; for by seeking temporal enrichment to the neglect of heavenly enlightenment, you have not been in a condition, either physically or mentally, to educate and train your children to keep the way of the Lord. How long shall this kind of robbery continue on the part of men who place a high estimate upon their services, and yet leave out of their work the one thing that makes their labors acceptable to God,—heart devotion, true piety? You dismiss God from your thoughts, pray scarcely at all, and yet claim for the exercise of your finite wisdom a large compensation in money. And yet Christ declares, “Without me ye can do nothing.” “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Will you exchange your hope of heaven for worldly gain? Many are doing this very thing. Satan has held out his tempting bribe, and they have accepted his terms. Should the tree be cut down, it would lie prone to the earth,—lost, lost, eternally lost! SpTA01b 33.1

Ellen G. White