Manuscript Releases, vol. 20 [Nos. 1420-1500]


MR No. 1444—Rebuke for Self-seeking and Self-exaltation; Warning Against Criticizing Church Leaders

(Written July 7, 1890, from Battle Creek, Michigan, to a layman in Fresno, California.)

The Lord, whose I am and whom I serve, has given me a message for you. You have thought much upon certain subjects which you deem of great importance, and have exercised your mind in order to bring your theories into logical shape so that you could present them to others; but the Lord has not been your guide in all this work. From books you have read you have conjured up ideas and high sounding words whose meaning you did not know but have searched out, and you have written and talked as though you knew much about the theories you advance, when in reality you knew little. 20MR 93.1

Who is any wiser for your high-sounding words? Can you find anything in the work of Christ that is marked by this characteristic? No, not at all. Your only reason for doing this is that you might be exalted before the people. You are deceptive. What you believe to be of great value is simply a mixture of present truth and spiritualism. It is far from being clean provender for the flock of God. It has not been thoroughly winnowed from the chaff. You have failed to reflect rays of divine light. 20MR 93.2

A chart was presented before me which you esteem very highly, on which you have tried to illustrate the plan of salvation according to your ideas and theories. You flatter yourself that this chart serves to illustrate the truth, and you have memorized the theories you have gathered from the books of men and from the inspired Word of God. True, you have searched the Scriptures, but you have placed precious gems of truth in a false setting to substantiate errors. You seek to bring the Bible to your own ideas, and you claim to be making the Word of God a foundation for all your theories. But you are building wood, hay, and stubble. [One line not readable] weaving for yourself and others only deception and delusions. I cannot sanction the work you are doing. 20MR 93.3

When you talk long in meetings upon your chosen theories, you do not feed the flock of God. Your high-sounding words are not of God. [Next two pages too dim to read.] Oh, that you would be altogether what the Lord would have you to be! 20MR 93.4

Do you remember when we spent the night in prayer before God, that I spoke of a roll which contained a long list of names? Among them was your name, and against it a large sum of money was written off, with the charge that you had used this amount for the glorification of yourself. Oh, how I wish that you could see this as it was represented to me, and as all heaven looked upon it! There were very dark spots in your experience that I believed might not be explained to me; for I felt too much pained to see any more of your life. 20MR 93.5

How many there are whose lifelong ambition it is to be esteemed great among men, that like Jehoiada they may be inscribed in the city among Kings, and have their names handed down as great men. God's great ones have their names registered in the Lamb's book of life; and if they remain faithful to the end they will have a pure, nobler immortality than earth can conceive of. They will have a crown of immortal glory that will never fade away. Then why seek for the honors of earth? Rather, live in such a way that it may be written on your gravestone, “He hath done good in Israel, both toward God and toward His people.” 20MR 94.1

Christ did not seek to be thought great, and yet He was the Majesty of heaven, equal in dignity and glory with the infinite God. He was God manifested in the flesh. What a rebuke is the life of Christ to everything like self-conceit, self-exaltation, seeking to be great among men! He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Wonder, O heaven, and be astonished, O earth! The divine nature in the person of Christ was not transformed in human nature and the human nature of the Son of man was not changed into the divine nature, but they were mysteriously blended in the Saviour of men. He was not the Father but in him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and yet He calls to a suffering world, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” 20MR 94.2

My brother, the lesson of meekness and lowliness of heart you must learn more fully than you ever yet have done, or you will never see the kingdom of heaven. In your present condition you would even think in heaven that you could improve upon the management of Christ. In learning in Christ's school, ambition, pride, self-esteem, will all be subdued, self will be hid in Christ, and you will find peace and rest to your soul. We are to look constantly upon the meek and holy Sufferer who in His own body bore our sins, who knew our griefs, who has carried our sorrows. 20MR 94.3

In him mercy and truth met together, righteousness and peace have embraced each other. Infinite wisdom, infinite love, infinite justice, infinite mercy, depths, heights, lengths, breadths, all passing knowledge, are found in him. I call upon you to learn of the great Teacher the simple lessons of self-abasement, that you may unite with the family of God. When you do this, you will reveal the fact to the world, to angels and to men. You will make it manifest that you have been with Jesus and learned of him, that you are not walking in sparks of your own kindling, that you are not drinking of the turbid streams of the valley but the water of life proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 20MR 94.4

When Christ is in you, a well of water springing up into everlasting life, you will not have such implicit confidence in the ideas and opinions of human authors; you will realize that you have learned of him who is mighty in wisdom and counsel. Impressions that are vivid and forcible will be received from the Word of life; your ideas will not be stale and [Ten pages too dim to read.] necessary to deal with human minds as Christ would have you. 20MR 95.1

You have not that living connection with God that you should have. You are not learning daily in the school of Christ how to supply the deficiencies that exist in your education and experience and practical godliness. You are far from being a man of spiritual and heavenly growth. You have not the qualifications necessary to make you a presiding power in the sanitarium, or to have the oversight in the church. You are a man of decidedly strong tendencies, and if people do not meet your ideas you are ready to cut them, to have nothing to do with them, and you are not at all careful in your condemnation of those who differ with your ideas. If you think they do not give you credit for having advanced spiritual knowledge, you have no use for them. Your likes and dislikes are strong, and not after Christ's order. 20MR 95.2

The Fresno church was presented to me as in a very distracted condition, while you represented it to me as in harmony. This shows your lack of spiritual discernment. Most earnest work needs to be done in the Fresno church, that things may be set in order. The Lord arranges His plans in heaven with the design that men shall be laborers together with him in their appointed places, and reflect upon others the light given them of God. The work of God is not to be planned and executed with rashness, with unsanctified hearts and minds, and in a loose, slipshod manner. God is our chief magistrate, and He guides and rules the churches in every land. 20MR 95.3

The apostle writes: [Revelation 1:9-20, quoted]. 20MR 95.4

The True Witness declares: [Revelation 3:1-4, quoted]. 20MR 95.5

My brother, you have thought that you were laboring in the interests of the church, but you were not doing so, for you were not walking softly and humbly before God. You do not have wisdom from above; you are not walking closely with God. You do not discern that the kind of labor that you are giving the church is not the kind of which it stands in need. You have had an experience in a kind of work that does not tend to encourage devotion or cultivate piety, or make you spiritually minded, that you may understand the way of the Lord and enable you to work for the best interests of the church. 20MR 95.6

Your ways, your methods, are not God's ways or God's methods. You feel at perfect liberty to complain of those whom God has ordained to work for the upbuilding of His cause. If their ideas conflict with your ideas, you criticize and condemn them; but you have no right to do this. In doing this you are not strengthening the things that remain, that are ready to die. Men who have had a long experience in the cause of truth have not had an easy, self-indulgent experience; they know what hardships and privations are; they know what self-denial and self-sacrifice is. They have had to economize, for they have not worked for riches, but rather invested all in the cause of God. 20MR 96.1

God is not all pleased with your speeches against Elder Loughborough. I have been shown that you have had more to say and more to do to instill doubt in the minds of others than anyone else in regard to him. To pronounce judgment on this one and that one, to make sweeping denunciations against the institution that God has established, is not your work. Elder Loughborough should be relieved of many wearing responsibilities, and the reports you have circulated in regard to him are an offense to God. It is easy to criticize a thing after it is done, suggesting improvements, to point out defects when a work has been done. 20MR 96.2

When you see supposed defects in the brethren who are preaching the Word of God, you talk of their mistakes and seek to uproot the confidence that others have in them, simply because they do not meet your ideas; but are your ideas without a flaw? Are your ways perfect before God? Has He placed you on the judgment seat to discover defects in others, to denounce and condemn them? I tell you, He has not; it is a work you have taken upon yourself. In place of humbling your own heart before God, you have watched for something to accuse in your ministering brethren. Elder [E. P.] Daniels has helped you, and you have helped him in this work which is condemned of God, for it is most cruel work. 20MR 96.3

To accuse others is to work in harmony with the great adversary of souls; to bring deception upon others. Satan is an accuser of the brethren, and all this accusation on your part will not make right one of your own errors, will not make less grievous one of your own wrongs. The spirit of criticism fastens you in the snare of Satan, for he desires you to think yourself better and wiser than your brethren. When you closely examine your own case, when you are sure that you are a doer of the words of Christ, that you are walking in His footsteps, you will not have time or desire to weaken your brethren. You will know how displeasing to God it is. 20MR 96.4

You should not stand ready to pick flaws, to criticize any man whom God has placed in a position of trust. It is true that every man is imperfect, but God has chosen to connect [half page too dim to read]. 20MR 97.1

For Christ's sake, for your soul's sake, I entreat you, do not talk of the deficiencies of your brethren! Go to work for yourself. Do not any longer grieve the Holy Spirit of God. The question is asked, “Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill?” And the answer is, “He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoreth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved” (Psalm 15). 20MR 97.2

The ministers whom you condemn God has ordained to do a work for which He has not qualified you. Money cannot supply your deficiency. Your prejudices, preferences, dislikes, your sweeping condemnation of both the Healdsburg College and the Health Retreat, have been active influences in encouraging fault-finding, jealousy, evil surmising throughout all the churches. When your ideas and expectations are not met, you have talked out your dissatisfaction, but God has not prompted you in your independent spirit, in your accusation of His instrumentality. There can be no unity where such things exist. Confidence cannot live amid suspicion and evil surmisings. 20MR 97.3

I opposed the building of the sanitarium in Fresno because the Lord had shown me that you were in no way fitted to manage such an enterprise; and since the time I spoke to you by pen and voice I have been still further enlightened by the Lord in regard to this matter. He has presented before me your spirit and attitude in regard to the church built in Fresno. Your motives were actuated by spiritual pride, and made a grand investment for display. This never should have been. A building erected at less expense, with more simplicity, would have been more pleasing to God. 20MR 97.4

It would have been proper to build a plain, comfortable, respectable house for the worship of God in keeping with our faith; but there was no call for any such building as has been put up. Wisdom was not manifested in the direction. There are missionaries working in Europe who lack comfortable clothing, who scarcely have food enough to sustain their families, and every needless article of dress, every needless expenditure for the sake of display—to glorify self as did Nebuchadnezzar—is placed on the losing side in the books of records. There is need for every dollar of means that God has entrusted to men. 20MR 98.1

You need, oh, so much you need at this time, to buy the gold of love and faith, that you may be rich, to buy the white robe of Christ's righteousness that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not appear at the tribunal of God. You need to buy the eyesalve that your eyes may be anointed, that you may discern things as God looks upon them.—Letter 8a, 1890. 20MR 98.2

Ellen G. White Estate

Washington, D. C.,

April 13, 1989.

Entire Letter.