Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2


Chapter 53—Controversy—Positive and Negative

Oneness With God Results in Unity—God is the embodiment of benevolence, mercy, and love. Those who are truly connected with Him cannot be at variance with one another. His Spirit ruling in the heart will create harmony, love, and unity. The opposite of this is seen among the children of Satan. It is his work to stir up envy, strife, and jealousy. In the name of my Master I ask the professed followers of Christ: What fruit do you bear?—Testimonies for the Church 5:28 (1882). 2MCP 497.1

Sowing and Reaping Dissensions—He who scatters the seeds of dissension and strife reaps in his own soul the deadly fruits. The very act of looking for evil in others develops evil in those who look.—The Ministry of Healing, 492 (1905). 2MCP 497.2

Satan Delights in Contention—Satan is constantly seeking to cause distrust, alienation, and malice among God's people. We shall be often tempted to feel that our rights are invaded when there is no real cause for such feelings.... Contentions, strife, and lawsuits between brethren are a disgrace to the cause of truth. Those who take such a course expose the church to the ridicule of her enemies and cause the powers of darkness to triumph. They are piercing the wounds of Christ afresh and putting Him to an open shame.—Testimonies for the Church 5:242, 243 (1882). 2MCP 497.3

Controversy Leads to Combativeness—The special, deceptive work of Satan has been to provoke controversies, that there might be strivings about words to no profit. He well knows that this will occupy the mind and the time. It raises the combativeness and quenches the spirit of conviction in the minds of many, drawing them into diversity of opinions, accusation, and prejudice, which closes the door to the truth.—The Review and Herald, September 11, 1888. (Evangelism, 155). 2MCP 498.1

Strife Among Brethren Delays Second Advent—For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan.... It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord's professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years.—Manuscript 4, 1883. (Evangelism, 696.) 2MCP 498.2

No Time for Contention and Strife—Men and women professing to serve the Lord are content to occupy their time and attention with matters of little importance. They are content to be at variance with one another. If they were consecrated to the work of the Master, they would not be striving and contending like a family of unruly children. Every hand would be engaged in service. Every one would be standing at his post of duty, working with heart and soul as a missionary of the cross of Christ.... The workers would carry with them into their service the prayers and sympathies of an awakened church. They would receive their directions from Christ and would find no time for contention or strife.—The Review and Herald, September 10, 1903. 2MCP 498.3

Let not controversy arise over trifles. The spirit of love and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will bind heart to heart, if each will open the windows of the heart heavenward and close them earthward.—Letter 183, 1899. 2MCP 498.4

Controversy to Be Laid to Rest—The power of the grace of God will do more for the soul than controversy will do in a lifetime. By the power of the truth how many things might be adjusted and controversies hoary with age find quietude in the admission of better ways. The great, grand principle, “Peace on earth and good will to men,” will be far better practiced when those who believe in Christ are laborers together with God. Then all the little things which some are ever harping upon, which are not authoritatively settled by the Word of God, will not be magnified into important matters.—Letter 183, 1899. 2MCP 499.1

Controversy Excites Self-defense—In His treatment of Thomas, Jesus gave a lesson for His followers. His example shows how we should treat those whose faith is weak and who make their doubts prominent. Jesus did not overwhelm Thomas with reproach, nor did He enter into controversy with him. He revealed Himself to the doubting one. Thomas had been most unreasonable in dictating the conditions of his faith, but Jesus, by His generous love and consideration, broke down all the barriers. Unbelief is seldom overcome by controversy. It is rather put upon self-defense and finds new support and excuse. But let Jesus, in His love and mercy, be revealed as the crucified Saviour, and from many once unwilling lips will be heard the acknowledgment of Thomas, “My Lord and my God.”—The Desire of Ages, 808 (1898). 2MCP 499.2

To Sick Speak No Word of Controversy—At the bedside of the sick no word of creed or controversy should be spoken. Let the sufferer be pointed to the One who is willing to save all that come to Him in faith. Earnestly, tenderly strive to help the soul that is hovering between life and death.—The Ministry of Healing, 120 (1905). 2MCP 499.3

Controversy Is Unprofitable—We are not called upon to enter into controversy with those who hold false theories. Controversy is unprofitable. Christ never entered into it. “It is written” is the weapon used by the world's Redeemer. Let us keep close to the Word. Let us allow the Lord Jesus and His messengers to testify. We know that their testimony is true.—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 93 (1915). 2MCP 499.4

Controversy Seldom Softens—The many argumentative sermons preached seldom soften and subdue the soul.—Letter 15, 1892. (Evangelism, 172.) 2MCP 500.1

Positive Approach More Powerful—Do not cherish a spirit of controversy. Little good is accomplished by denunciatory speeches. The surest way to destroy false doctrine is to preach the truth. Keep to the affirmative. Let the precious truths of the gospel kill the force of evil. Show a tender, pitiful spirit toward the erring. Come close to hearts.—Letter 190, 1902. (Evangelism, 304.) 2MCP 500.2

Controversy That Awakens Minds—In every age God's chosen messengers have been reviled and persecuted, yet through their affliction the knowledge of God has been spread abroad. Every disciple of Christ is to step into the ranks and carry forward the same work, knowing that its foes can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. God means that truth shall be brought to the front and become the subject of examination and discussion, even through the contempt placed upon it. The minds of the people must be agitated; every controversy, every reproach, every effort to restrict liberty of conscience, is God's means of awakening minds that otherwise might slumber.—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 33 (1896). 2MCP 500.3

Children Influenced by Parental Disagreements—To a large extent parents create the atmosphere of the home circle, and when there is disagreement between father and mother, the children partake of the same spirit. Make your home atmosphere fragrant with tender thoughtfulness. If you have become estranged and have failed to be Bible Christians, be converted; for the character you bear in probationary time will be the character you will have at the coming of Christ.—Letter 18b, 1891. (The Adventist Home, 16.) 2MCP 500.4

Contention Breeds Trouble—As a family you can be happy or miserable. It rests with yourselves. Your own course of action will determine the future. You both need to soften the sharp points of your characters and to speak such words only as you will not be ashamed to meet in the day of God.... You may contend about little things that are not worthy of contention, and the result will be trouble. The path of the upright is the path of peace. It is so plain that the humble, God-fearing man can walk in it without stumbling and without making crooked paths. It is a narrow path; but men of different temperaments can walk side by side if they but follow the Captain of their salvation.—Testimonies for the Church 4:502, 503 (1880). 2MCP 501.1

Scolding and Fretting Create Rebellion—Harsh, angry words are not of heavenly origin. Scolding and fretting never help. Instead, they stir up the worst feelings of the human heart. When your children do wrong and are filled with rebellion and you are tempted to speak and act harshly, wait before you correct them. Give them an opportunity to think, and allow your temper to cool. 2MCP 501.2

As you deal kindly and tenderly with your children, they and you will receive the blessing of the Lord. And think you that in the day of God's judgment anyone will regret that he has been patient and kind with his children?—Manuscript 114, 1903. (Child Guidance, 246.) 2MCP 501.3

Nearness to Christ Brings Unity—The cause of division and discord in families and in the church is separation from Christ. To come near to Christ is to come near to one another. The secret of true unity in the church and in the family is not diplomacy, not management, not a superhuman effort to overcome difficulties—though there will be much of this to do—but union with Christ. 2MCP 501.4

Picture a large circle, from the edge of which are many lines all running toward the center. The nearer these lines approach the center, the nearer they are to one another. 2MCP 501.5

Thus it is in the Christian life. The closer we come to Christ, the nearer we shall be to one another. God is glorified as His people unite in harmonious action.—Letter 49, 1904. (The Adventist Home, 179.) 2MCP 502.1

Parental Harmony Essential—Perfect confidence should exist between husband and wife. Together they should consider their responsibilities. Together they should work for the highest good of their children Never should they in the presence of the children criticize each other's plan or question each other's judgment. Let the wife be careful not to make the husband's work for the children more difficult. Let the husband hold up the hands of his wife, giving her wise counsel and loving encouragement.—The Ministry of Healing, 393, 394 (1905). 2MCP 502.2

No Variance—If fathers and mothers are at variance, one working against the other to counteract each other's influence, the family will be in a demoralized condition, and neither the father nor the mother will receive the respect and confidence that are essential to a well-governed family.... Children are quick to discern anything that will cast a reflection upon the rules and regulations of a household, especially those regulations that restrict their actions.—The Review and Herald, March 13, 1894. (The Adventist Home, 312.) 2MCP 502.3

Positive Guidance in the Home—You have no right to bring a gloomy cloud over the happiness of your children by faultfinding or severe censure for trifling mistakes. Actual wrong should be made to appear just as sinful as it is, and a firm, decided course should be pursued to prevent its recurrence; yet children should not be left in a hopeless state of mind, but with a degree of courage that they can improve and gain your confidence and approval. Children may wish to do right, they may purpose in their hearts to be obedient; but they need help and encouragement.—The Signs of the Times, April 10, 1884. (Child Guidance, 279.) 2MCP 502.4

Peace in the Church—Let there be peace in the home, and there will be peace in the church. This precious experience brought into the church will be the means of creating a kindly affection one for another. Quarrels will cease. True Christian courtesy will be seen among church members. The world will take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus and have learned of Him. What an impression the church would make upon the world if all the members would live Christian lives!—Manuscript 60, 1903. (Child Guidance, 549.) 2MCP 503.1

Death Erases Feelings of Variance—When death closes the eyes, when the hands are folded upon the silent breast, how quickly feelings of variance change! There is no grudging, no bitterness; slights and wrongs are forgiven, forgotten. How many loving words are spoken of the dead! How many good things in their life are brought to mind! Praise and commendation are now freely expressed; but they fall upon ears that hear not, hearts that feel not.... How many, as they stand awed and silent beside the dead, recall with shame and sorrow the words and acts that brought sadness to the heart now forever still! 2MCP 503.2

Let us now bring all the beauty, love, and kindness we can into our life. Let us be thoughtful, grateful, patient, and forbearing in our intercourse with one another. Let the thoughts and feelings which find expression around the dying and the dead be brought into the daily association with our brethren and sisters in life.—Testimonies for the Church 5:490 (1889). 2MCP 503.3

No Strife in Heaven—Let no one feel, even though he may theoretically be established in the present truth, that he makes no mistakes. But if mistakes are made, let there be a readiness to correct them. And let us avoid everything that is likely to create dissension and strife; for there is a heaven before us, and among its inhabitants there will be no strife.—The Review and Herald, August 8, 1907. (Counsels on Health, 244.) 2MCP 503.4

More Love, Less Criticism Needed—Differences of opinion will always exist, for every mind is not constituted to run in the same channel. Hereditary and cultivated tendencies have to be guarded, lest they create controversies over minor matters. Christ's workers must draw together in tender sympathy and love. Let not anyone think it a virtue to maintain his own notions and suppose he is the only one to whom the Lord has given discernment and intuition. Christian charity covers a multitude of things which one may regard as defects in another. There is need of much love and far less criticism. When the Holy Spirit is manifestly working in the hearts of ministers and helpers, they will reveal the tenderness and love of Christ.—Letter 183, 1899. 2MCP 504.1

Not to Attack Individuals—By some of our brethren many things have been spoken and written that are interpreted as expressing antagonism to government and law. It is a mistake thus to lay ourselves open to misunderstanding. It is not wise to find fault continually with what is done by the rulers of government. It is not our work to attack individuals or institutions. We should exercise great care lest we be understood as putting ourselves in opposition to the civil authorities. It is true that our warfare is aggressive, but our weapons are to be those found in a plain “Thus saith the Lord.” Our work is to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God. We should not be turned aside to lines that will encourage controversy or arouse antagonism in those not of our faith.—Testimonies for the Church 6:394 (1900). 2MCP 504.2

Meeting Unbelief and Divisive Teachings—I have been shown that evil angels in the form of believers will work in our ranks to bring in a strong spirit of unbelief. Let not even this discourage you but bring a true heart to the help of the Lord against the powers of satanic agencies. These powers of evil will assemble in our meetings, not to receive a blessing, but to counterwork the influences of the Spirit of God. Take up no remark that they may make, but repeat the rich promises of God, which are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. We are never to catch up the words that human lips may speak to confirm the evil angels in their work, but we should repeat the words of Christ.—Letter 46, 1909. 2MCP 504.3