The Review and Herald

743/1902

October 16, 1894

Duty to the Poor, the Erring, and the Wandering

EGW

“Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” RH October 16, 1894, par. 1

Those who will be accounted worthy of an entrance into the city of God, will in character be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. So that He who is the Truth, in whose mouth there was no guile, will be able to say to them, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” and will be justified in saying, “Thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Goodness and faithfulness must be found combined in the characters of those who are to inherit eternal life. The Lord cannot commend in this manner those who take pride in doing injustice, in dealing sharply with men who are related as brethren in the church, or with unbelievers. This kind of dealings is not after God's business standard, but after the standard of the world, and must be repented of by those who would enter into the kingdom of heaven. RH October 16, 1894, par. 2

There are men and women whose cold, unimpressible hearts have not kindled and glowed under the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Message after message has come to them, but they have not heeded the warning, and reformed their evil practices. The Lord Jesus, who is the judge of every man, will inquire in reference to many hard-hearted, selfish, scheming transactions, “Who hath required this at your hand?” The spirit, the character, you have manifested has not been at all after the Pattern I have given you in my life and character, when I was upon the earth. Why have you not denied self, lifted the cross, and followed me? Your character is not after the divine similitude, but after the similitude of the character of the prince of evil; because mercy and the love of God have not been manifested. Heaven would be imperiled if any such unholy characters were to enter heaven; for you do not reflect the divine attributes of goodness, mercy, and love. RH October 16, 1894, par. 3

By beholding you may become changed into the divine image. Jesus has given the parable of the lost sheep for our study. The true Shepherd leaves the ninety and nine, and goes into the desert at any expense and suffering to himself, in order that he may find the sheep that was lost. When he finds it, he brings it back with rejoicing. How many of the wandering and lost sheep have you sought for, and brought back to the fold with a heart full of pitying tenderness, forgiveness, and love? How many words of encouragement have you spoken to the wandering sheep, that have cost you pain, anxiety, and much inconvenience? Have you cherished a spirit to upbraid, to reproach, and to whip the poor wanderers back to the fold? or have you spoken soothing words of hope, courage, and pardon, bearing the wanderer home on your shoulders, rejoicing at every step, and saying, “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep that was lost”? RH October 16, 1894, par. 4

Jesus says to you, I have given to you the parable of the prodigal son, and how has it influenced your course of action? Have you felt tender sympathy for the erring one? As you have seen him awakening to a sense of the degradation that sin has brought upon him, have you spoken to him words of encouragement and hope? Have you had a sense of his suffering from remorse as he saw the years that he had lost? and have your tears fallen with his as he wept in penitence? Did you descry him afar off, and run forth to meet him with pity and gladness and love in your voice and heart, rejoicing that the poor, sin sick soul was repenting and returning to his father's house, even as I rejoiced to welcome you to my pardoning love? I went to meet you when you were lost; I welcomed you; I took you in my arms; I wept over you. Have you followed my example? Have you welcomed the prodigal to the fold? Have you accepted his repentance, and rejoiced over his return? RH October 16, 1894, par. 5

How many manifest the spirit of the elder brother, who looked with coldness on the return of the prodigal, and instead of giving him a welcome, reproached those who rejoiced over his return as one who was undeserving and who had cost much trouble. Look at the two figures in the parable, and see whether you are manifesting a spirit similar to that of the self-righteous elder brother, who was full of envy, jealousy, evil surmising, and hatred toward the one whom the father received so graciously. In which class would the Lord Jesus reckon you were you on the ground where such a scene was enacted? These parables have a practical meaning that many do not discern. RH October 16, 1894, par. 6

Study the life and character of Christ, and seek to imitate his example. The unconsecrated course of some of those who claim to be believers in the third angel's message, has resulted in driving some of the poor sheep into the desert; and who is it that has manifested a shepherd's care for the lost and wandering? Is it not time to be Christians in practice as well as profession? What benevolence, what compassion, what tender sympathy, Jesus has manifested toward suffering humanity! The heart that beats in unison with his great heart of infinite love will give sympathy to every needy soul, and will make it manifest that he has the mind of Christ. “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.” Every suffering soul has a claim upon the sympathy of others, and those who are imbued with the love of Christ, filled with his pity, tenderness, and compassion, will respond to every appeal to their sympathy. They will not say, when an appeal is made to them in behalf of those who are perishing out of Christ, “This does not concern me.” They will not act the part of the elder brother, but will manifest personal interest and sympathy. They will follow the example of their Master, and will go out to seek and to save that which was lost, obeying the Saviour's words when he said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Every soul who attempts to retrace his wanderings and return to God, needs the help of those who have a tender, pitying heart of Christ-like love. RH October 16, 1894, par. 7

We are not to meet misery and repentance with censure, reproach, with suspicion, distrust, and jealousy, as the elder brother is represented as meeting the repenting prodigal; but we are to welcome the wanderer as he returns to his Father's house with the same compassion and sympathy as Jesus manifested toward us when we sought his pardoning love. He met lost humanity with infinite love. He encircled the perishing, wandering soul in the arms of his mercy, and connected sinful man with his own divine nature, and adopted the child of humanity into his own royal family. He presents this example to you, and says, Go thou and do likewise. When human agents become doers of the words and works of Christ, joy is created throughout the unfallen universe, and songs of rejoicing resound through all the heavenly worlds. RH October 16, 1894, par. 8

The Lord has committed his goods to the charge of his human agents, and he expects that they will trade upon them. He has given to the trust of his people the fatherless and the widow, and yet souls have been left to perish for the want of personal sympathy and labor. But your neglect of one soul is registered in heaven as neglect of Christ. Jesus has paid the ransom for every soul, and he has identified his interest with that of the weakest and most erring. What befalls the children of men, touches Christ, the Redeemer of mankind. He reproved his own nation for the way in which they treated their fellow-men, and gave them to understand that an abuse inflicted upon the weakest and most sinful, was counted as a personal abuse to himself, the Lord of heaven. The favors shown to the poor and wretched and sinful, were also counted as personal favors to himself, to be remembered and rewarded hereafter. Christ has not left us in darkness as to what are our privilege and duty to our fellow-men, but through various parables and illustrations has presented our obligation to others. He has unfolded before us the scenes of the last great day, when all men are to be arraigned before his tribunal; and the treatment given to the least of his brethren is, according to its nature, commended or condemned by the sentence: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Or, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of them, ye did it not to me.” RH October 16, 1894, par. 9

Christ is our substitute and surety; he stands before God in the place of humanity, and he is affected as his weakest follower is affected. The sympathy of Christ is such that he cannot be an indifferent spectator of his children's sufferings. The heart of him who gave his life for humanity is touched by the wound, however slight, that is given to one of his followers by the spirit revealed in the word or action of another. Let us bear in mind that Christ is the great central heart from which the life-blood flows to every part of the great body of humanity. He is the head from which extend the nerves that reach even to the most minute and most remote parts of the body. When one member of the body with which Christ is so mystically connected, suffers, the throb of pain is felt by our Saviour. RH October 16, 1894, par. 10

Will the church arouse? Will her members come into sympathy with Christ, so that they will have his tenderness for all the sheep and lambs of the fold? For their sake the Majesty of heaven made himself of no reputation; for them he came to a world all seared and marred with the curse. He toiled day and night to instruct, to elevate, to bring to everlasting joy a thankless and disobedient people. For their sake he became poor, that they through his poverty might become rich. For them he denied himself; for them he endured privation, scorn, contempt, suffering, and death; for them he took the form of a servant. Christ is our pattern, shall we copy him? Shall we not have a care for God's heritage? Shall we not cherish tender compassion for the erring, the tempted, and the tried? RH October 16, 1894, par. 11

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity [love], which is the bond of perfectness, and let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” RH October 16, 1894, par. 12

How much of this work has been left undone. But will not the members of our churches take hold in earnest of these matters? God will work with those who will give him a chance. Look after the orphans and the widows and the poor, and see that no wandering one is left in the desert to perish for the want of personal labor and sympathy. Let the peace of God abide in your hearts by faith; and be ye thankful. RH October 16, 1894, par. 13