The Signs of the Times


May 23, 1900

Ministry—No. 2


The ordinance of feet washing is an ordinance of service. This is the lesson the Lord desires all to learn from it. He desires us to think of its whole meaning, not merely of the act of outward cleansing. This lesson was given to reveal the great truth that Christ is an example of what we, through His grace, are to be in our intercourse with one another. It shows that the entire life should be one of humble, faithful ministry. This ordinance means much to us; and when rightly practised, the children of God are by it brought into holy relationship with one another, to bless and help one another. ST May 23, 1900, par. 1

There is an object before all Christians. They are to do the work Christ did while here upon earth. “Wist ye not,” He said, “that I must be about My Father's business?” I came to show what the Lord requires of all who would win eternal life. Christ's work was performed according to the law of service, and He says to us, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” After His ascension He appeared to His disciples, who had returned to their fishing. So wearied and discouraged were they that at first they did not recognize His voice. He asked them if they had taken anything, and the mournful answer was returned. “We have toiled all night, and have taken nothing.” In clear, calm tones Christ's words sounded over the water, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.” They hastened to do His bidding, yet saying at the same time, “We have toiled all night without success; it is not likely that we shall be successful now.” But the success that always follows obedience crowned their efforts. They were not able to draw in the net, so full was it of fish. Immediately they forgot the fruitless labor of the night. They saw Jesus as a risen Saviour, and believed in Him. From this miracle they learned the lesson which all need to learn,—that without the co-operation of Christ, all work will be hard and profitless. ST May 23, 1900, par. 2

If we would work as Christ worked, we must have the mind of Christ. He can not co-operate with those whose lives reveal variance, strife, and bitterness. Those who cherish these attributes are not susceptible to the influence of the Holy Spirit. The divine Comforter strives with them, but they close the door of the heart to His gracious pleading, desiring to be left alone in their foolish, selfish perversity. They find a satisfaction, a kind of rest, without pardon, without wearing Christ's yoke and learning His meekness and lowliness. But let adversity come, and they find that they have leaned on a broken reed. There is no peace for the wicked. Difference and dissension will be seen among those who are not chosen by the Lord; but let it not spring up and bear fruit among those who claim to be representing Christ. There is no work more sacred for Christians than to maintain peace among themselves. Then they present to the world the unity that Christ prayed might exist, and bear witness that God sent Christ into the world to redeem the human race. ST May 23, 1900, par. 3

Wherever we go, whatever we do, we are to have an abiding sense that we are in the service of the Lord. The world is full of those who need to be ministered unto,—the weak, the helpless, the ignorant. Christ's followers should cherish no selfish motives, no feeling of self-exaltation. He who shows that he desires the highest place, irrespective of those around him, who thinks that he must be specially favored, is far from grasping the meaning of Christ's words, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” ST May 23, 1900, par. 4

The principles of God's law are to be imprinted on our hearts and carried into every phase of life. Our children should be taught obedience to God's commandments. When this law is graven on our hearts, we shall indeed minister to others for Christ's sake. But there are many who do not live out Christ's merciful, unselfish life. Some who think themselves excellent Christians do not understand what constitutes service for God. They plan and study to please themselves. They act only with reference to self. Time is of value to them only as they can gather for themselves. In all business transactions this is their object. Not for others, but for themselves do they minister. God created them to live in a world where unselfish service must be performed. He designed them to help their fellow-men in every possible way. But in the place of doing this, they grasp everything for themselves. “I” is so large that they can not see anything else. They are not in touch with suffering humanity. ST May 23, 1900, par. 5

Those who thus live for self are like the fig tree, which made every pretension, but was fruitless. When Christ came to it, seeking fruit because He was hungry, no fruit rewarded His search. He pronounced a withering curse on this tree. “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth forever,” He said; and presently the fig tree withered away. This fruitless tree symbolized the condition of the Jewish nation at that time. Every opportunity and privilege were granted them. Christ came to show them the way of life, but they were determined to walk in their own selfish way, and the Lord gave them up as joined to their idols. He left them to perish in the destruction of Jerusalem. Had they kept the law of God, they would have done the same unselfish work that Christ did, and would thus have fulfilled God's purpose for them. ST May 23, 1900, par. 6

The Jewish nation brought ruin on themselves by refusing to minister to others. Love for God and for their fellow-men was eclipsed by pride and self-sufficiency. Christ came to counteract this influence. He lived the law of God by ministering to those around Him. By the illustration of the withered fig tree He sought to teach the disciples a lesson they would never forget, and this lesson is a warning to every nation, every individual. No one can keep the law of God without ministering to others. Man is not to act as tho there was one rule for the master and another for the servant. Christ was a servant; he lived not to please Himself; and by His life of service He has ennobled all service. Those who for Christ's sake minister to the hungry and thirsty, the sick and imprisoned, because they see in every being a soul for whom Christ died; those who do not exalt themselves above their fellow-beings, but minister to their necessities, are doing the work Christ came to do. For them a reward is prepared by the Father. ST May 23, 1900, par. 7

Mrs. E. G. White