The Signs of the Times


June 17, 1886

The True Standard of Christian Excellence


“As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” ST June 17, 1886, par. 1

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.” ST June 17, 1886, par. 2

It is the design of God that improvement shall be the life-work of all his people, and that in all their aims they shall be guided and controlled by Christian principle and correct experience. But many fail to understand the true object of life; and under the influence of cherished errors, they sacrifice all there is of life that is really valuable. The true man is one who is willing to sacrifice his own interest for the good of others, and who forgets himself in ministering to their happiness. Intellect is a mightier force than wealth or physical power. If sanctified and controlled by the Spirit of God, it can exert a powerful influence for good. Yet intellect alone does not make the man, according to the divine standard. When made a minister of vice, great intellect is a curse to the possessor and to all within its influence. ST June 17, 1886, par. 3

One's claim to a true manhood must be determined by the use of the powers which God has given him. Lord Byron had rare intellectual gifts; but he was not a man, according to God's standard. He was an agent of Satan. His passions were fierce and uncontrollable. He was sowing seed through his life which ripened into a harvest of corruption. His life-work lowered the standard of virtue. This man was one of the world's distinguished men; still the Lord acknowledged him only as one who had abused his God-given talents. Many others whom God endowed with giant minds, and whom the world called great men, rallied under the banner of Satan, and used the gifts of God for the perversion of truth and the destruction of the souls of men. Nero was acknowledged by the world as a great man; but did God regard him as such? No! he was not connected by living faith to the great heart of humanity. He and others like him in the world ate, and drank, and slept, as men of the world; but they were Satanic in their cruelty. Wherever went these monsters in human form, bloodshed and destruction marked their pathway. They were lauded while living, but when they were buried, the world rejoiced. In contrast with the lives of such men, is that of Martin Luther. He was not born a prince. He wore no royal crown. From a cloistered cell his voice was heard, and his influence felt. He had a noble, generous heart, as well as a vigorous intellect, and all his powers were exercised for the good of humanity. He stood bravely for truth and right, and breasted the world's opposition to benefit his fellow-men. ST June 17, 1886, par. 4

That which will bless humanity is spiritual life. If the man is in harmony with God, he will depend continually upon him for strength. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.” It should be our life-work to press forward continually toward the perfection of Christian character, ever striving for conformity to the will of God, remembering that the efforts begun upon earth will continue throughout eternity. God has set before the human family an elevated standard, and he who is true to his God-given manhood, will not only promote the happiness of his fellow-creatures in this life, but will aid them to secure an eternal reward in the life to come. ST June 17, 1886, par. 5

Nor should any duty be regarded as small and unimportant. It is difficult for human beings to give attention to lesser matters while the mind is engaged in business of greater importance. But should not this union exist? Man formed in the image of his Maker should unite the larger responsibilities with the smaller. He may be engrossed with occupations of overwhelming importance, and neglect the instruction which his children need. These duties may be looked upon as the lesser duties of life, when in reality they lie at the very foundation of society. Happiness of families and churches depends upon home influences. Eternal interests depend upon the proper discharge of the duties of this life. The world is not so much in need of great minds, as of good men who will be a blessing in their homes. ST June 17, 1886, par. 6

The members of the human family are entitled to the name of men and women only when they employ their talents, in every possible way, for the good of others. The life of Christ is before us as a pattern, and it is when ministering, like angels of mercy, to the wants of others that man is closely allied to God. It is the nature of Christianity to make happy families and happy members of society. Discord, selfishness, and strife will be put away from every one who possesses the Spirit of Christ. ST June 17, 1886, par. 7

Those who are partakers of Christ's love have no right to think that there is a limit to their influence and work in trying to benefit humanity. Christ did not become weary in his efforts to save fallen men; and our work is to be continuous and persevering. We shall find work to do until the Master shall bid us lay our armor at his feet; and we must wait and watch, submissive to God's will, ready and willing to respond to every call of duty. ST June 17, 1886, par. 8

Angels are engaged night and day in the service of God, for the uplifting of man in accordance with the plan of salvation. Man is required to love God supremely, that is, with all his might, mind, and strength, and his neighbor as himself. This he cannot possibly do unless he shall deny himself. Said Christ. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” ST June 17, 1886, par. 9

To deny self means to rule the spirit when passion is seeking for the mastery; to resist the temptation to censure and to speak fault-finding words; to have patience with the child that is dull, and whose conduct is grievous and trying; to stand at the post of duty when others may fail; to lift responsibilities wherever and whenever duty requires it, not for applause, not for policy, but for the sake of the Master, who has given each of his followers a work to be done with unwavering fidelity; when one might praise himself, to keep silent and let other lips praise him. Self-denial is to do good to others when inclination would lead us to serve and please ourselves. Although our fellow-men may never appreciate our efforts, we are to work on. ST June 17, 1886, par. 10

Fellow-Christians, search carefully, and see whether the work of God is indeed the rule of your life. Do you take Christ with you when you leave the closet of prayer? Does your religion stand guard at the door of your lips? Is your heart drawn out in sympathy and love for others outside of your own family? Are you diligently seeking a clearer understanding of Scripture truth, that you may let your light shine forth to others? These questions you may answer to your own souls. Let your speech be seasoned with grace, and your demeanor show Christian elevation. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” Ever remember that the moral nature needs to be braced with constant watchfulness and prayer. As long as you look to Christ, you are safe; but the moment you trust to yourself, you lose your hold upon God, and are in great peril. ST June 17, 1886, par. 11

Many limit the divine Providence, and divorce mercy and love from his character. They urge that the greatness and majesty of God would forbid him to interest himself in the concerns of the weakest of his creatures. But from the lips of Jesus we have the assurance: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” ST June 17, 1886, par. 12