The Review and Herald

680/1902

July 25, 1893

Esteem Them Highly For Their Work's Sake

EGW

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” RH July 25, 1893, par. 1

The ministers who are laborers together with God are to be respected, honored, and beloved. “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake.” We are not to criticise them, to question every movement that does not coincide with our ideas and practices. A great work has been laid upon the ministers of the Lord, and what kind of men can we hope to select to do this work? Can we choose men who are perfect, who never err? “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or wisdom, declaring unto you the wisdom of God.” “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” Those to whom Paul was speaking these words esteemed themselves very highly, and did not hesitate to find fault, question, and criticise the message and the messenger sent from God for the confirmation, strengthening, and encouraging of the saints. The testimony the ministers of God desired to bear for the comfort and consolation of the children of God, they were not able to bear, because the people of God were not in a condition to receive it. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and they were not exercising themselves unto godliness. Paul says: RH July 25, 1893, par. 2

“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart; and then shall every man have praise of God.” RH July 25, 1893, par. 3

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” “Let your conversation be as becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” RH July 25, 1893, par. 4

In visiting the churches, ministers often find two existing evils among the professed people of God, which cause them sorrow of heart. On the one hand, there is a class to whom the servants of God have borne a testimony that has cut across their prejudices, and wounded their pride, and they are ready to condemn the faithful reprover. On the other hand, there is a class, who, because the minister has not specified their errors, or reproved them in any personal way, idolize the minister, and are ready to flatter and admire him, proclaiming him as a perfect minister of Christ. It is difficult to handle these evils, and so treat upon both dangers that no harm will be done to those who have a knowledge of the theory of the truth, and yet are not sanctified through it. If the minister seeks to correct these evils, both classes are likely to misunderstand and misinterpret his motive and words. In whatever way the matter is dealt with, unless the mind and heart of the people are under the direct influence of the Spirit of God, Satan will make subtle suggestions in such a way that his agency is not recognized, and whatever is said and done in the way of reproof, admonition, or instruction, will be misapplied or misinterpreted. Those whose minds are not spiritual will put a false construction upon the words of the reprover, and make a world out of an atom, and an atom out of a world. They have so little respect for the messenger and his message, that if they imagine that there is something in the human line that does not meet their measurement and judgment, they pronounce sentence against it, and the message which they needed, and which God sent, is discarded. They will receive neither the messenger nor his message, and fail to be benefited by that which they hear. The respect which they should cherish and cultivate for God's chosen interest steadily diminishes, in place of increasing. Unless this mistake is corrected, disastrous results will ensue. The love of God will become extinct in the soul; and instead of spiritual power in the church, there will only be dry theories, without sap or nourishment. RH July 25, 1893, par. 5

The office of a messenger whom God has chosen to send with reproofs and warnings, is strangely misunderstood at the present time. When reproof is given, the church-members feel humiliated, as their real situation is revealed to them, which they were not able to discern. God in mercy sent them warnings and reproof because he loved them. He says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore and repent.” Those who need reproof bring sorrow and grief upon the soul of him who must correct their errors; but though his message be painful to him, he dare not neglect his work. Those who deserve reproofs feel hurt under personal admonition. Pride is wounded, and Satan suggests that their mistakes and errors will be reported to others, and remarks will be made in reference to their mistaken course of action. It would be well for these individuals to realize that their defects are manifest to all, and the world measures them by that which they do. Not only this world beholds their course, but they are a spectacle to the angels of heaven. The heavenly host are looking upon every man, woman, and child, and they see the defects of their characters. Besides this, nothing is hid from God; our secret sins are in the light of his countenance. RH July 25, 1893, par. 6

The faithful reprover that is sent of God to make known the mistakes and errors that are binding the souls of those who are deceived, is treated with contempt. They would crucify the minister simply because he has taken the course which he felt was right, and could not neglect as a faithful steward of the grace of God. Let the church-members realize that the ministers are called to do a special work, not to be men-pleasers, but to speak the truth in love, and to watch for souls as they that must give an account. A true shepherd has a very important part to act. He must reprove. He dare not keep silent when he sees souls in danger of bringing upon themselves eternal ruin. The wayward heart will take exception to his message; for the love of God has grown cold, and he is incapable of discerning spiritual things. He will misjudge, criticise, and weigh the reprover's words in his own finite human scales, and denounce the messenger, and thus grieve Jesus in person of his servant. Another minister may come along who is not as conscientious, who is not as faithful and true, who flatters the members of the church, calling that righteous and good and holy which God has pronounced unrighteous and unholy; yet this man will be highly esteemed, and enshrined in the hearts of the people. They will pass their judgment that he has a good spirit; and because he did not discern and correct their errors, they may pass on in spiritual darkness, and die in their sins. RH July 25, 1893, par. 7

To exalt a minister as perfection because he has not displeased any one by reproving errors, not only brings a snare upon the minister, but brings disaster upon the people. He who does not hurt the spiritual self-complacency of the people is almost deified by them, while a devoted, faithful servant of God, who lays bare the errors of the church-members, is supposed to be defective, because he does not see what they suppose are their personal merits. He reproves wrongs which really exist, and this is counted an indignity, and his authority and instruction are cast aside and trodden under foot of men. These extremes in the way the people look upon ministers are found among the professed children of God; and who will now examine their hearts, and tenderly, earnestly and faithfully set these things in order? RH July 25, 1893, par. 8

The subject of the Christian ministry must be set in a new light before the minds of the people. I entreat of you to study the word of God on this point. If you think a minister is making mistakes, it is your duty to go to him in love and meekness and present the matter before him. You may not have a correct idea of his motive or work, and under misapprehension may grow cold to him, close the door of your heart, and fail to receive his message or appreciate his labors. Where alienation exists between a minister and the people, there is something decidedly wrong, either in him or the church-members, and something should be done immediately to work a reform in whoever may be the erring party. He should not be left to wonder what all this coldness and indifference means. He should not be left to seek in vain to find out why he cannot reach the hearts of the people with the message God has given him, and to question why it is that the door of the heart has been closed; for he can realize there is no affection for him, and can have no fellowship with the people for whom he is sent to labor. Has he dropped a word, or done a deed which has wounded you in some way, and he does not know that it has hurt you? Then go to him, tell him his faults between him and you alone, and have the coldness and bitterness of spirit that has been created by an unwitting act on his part, changed to respect and love. You cannot afford to allow any unChristlike spirit to embitter your spirit against your brethren. Christ in his prayer to his Father says, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and has loved them, as thou hast loved me.” We should leave no means untried to preserve unity in the church. Receive in the fullness of your heart the words of Christ, and be doers of his word. We cannot receive the blessings that the love and presence of Christ can bring us, if we cherish feelings that will mar the unity that Christ prayed might exist among his disciples. RH July 25, 1893, par. 9