The Review and Herald

772/1902

May 7, 1895

Correct Wrong in the Spirit of Meekness

EGW

The course to be pursued toward the erring is plainly marked out in the Scriptures. Paul writes: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” To convince one of his errors is most delicate work; for erroneous modes of action or thinking, by being constantly indulged, become second nature, and the moral taste is confirmed in evil. It is very hard for those who err to see their faults. Many are blind to faults in themselves which are plainly discerned by others. There is always hope of repentance and reformation for the one who recognizes that he has faults; but many who recognize their errors when they are plainly pointed out, are yet too proud to confess that they are wrong. In a general way they will admit that they are human, and therefore liable to err; but such confessions count nothing with God. RH May 7, 1895, par. 1

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Happy is the man that feareth always; but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.... I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” RH May 7, 1895, par. 2

It is not safe to do as did Saul,—walk contrary to the Lord's commands, and then say, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord,” stubbornly refusing to confess the sin of disobedience. It was Saul's stubbornness that made his case hopeless, and yet how many venture to follow his example. The Lord in mercy sends words of reproof to save the erring, but they will not submit to be corrected. They insist that they have done no wrong, and thus resist the Spirit of God. The Lord declared this principle through his prophet: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” RH May 7, 1895, par. 3

It is very discouraging to labor for those who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge their transgressions. When their wrong course is pointed out to them as being dangerous both to themselves and to others, they excuse their actions, laying the blame on circumstances, or heaping the censure which justly belongs to them upon others. They are filled with indignation that any one should regard them as sinners, and the one who reproves them is looked upon as a personal enemy who has done them a personal injury. The very ones who are blind to their own faults are often quick to note the faults of others, quick to criticise their words, and condemn them for something they have or have not done. They do not realize that their own errors may be much more grievous in the sight of God. They are like the man whom Christ represents as seeking to remove the mote from his brother's eye, while he has a beam in his own eye. The Spirit of God makes manifest and reproves sin that is concealed in darkness, sin that, if cherished, will increase and ruin the soul; but those who are willing to be self-deceived resist reproof, and will not yield to the influence of the Spirit of God. Yet they are quick to correct others; and in dealing with the erring, they do not manifest patience, kindness, and respect. They do not show an unselfish spirit, and manifest the tenderness and love of Jesus. They are sharp and rasping, and utter words of reproof in a wicked spirit. RH May 7, 1895, par. 4

Every unkind criticism of others, every word of self-esteem, is “the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity.” The lifting up of self in pride, as if you were faultless, the magnifying of the faults of others, is an offense to God. It is breaking the law which says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” The injunction is given, “Be kindly affectioned one to another.” We have no right to withdraw our confidence from a brother because some evil report comes to our ears, some accusation is made or supposition is suggested that he has done wrong. Frequently the evil report that is brought to us is made by those who are at enmity with God, those who are joining the enemy in his work of accusing the brethren. Those who are unmindful of the Saviour's words, “Take heed therefore how ye hear,” allow their unsanctified ears to hear wrong, their perverted senses to imagine wrong, and their evil tongues to report wrong. RH May 7, 1895, par. 5

Many who are accusers of the brethren will not come out openly and talk with those who they think are in error, but will go to others, and, under the mask of friendship for the erring, will cast reflections upon them. Sometimes these accusers will openly agree with those whom they covertly seek to injure. They will state as facts, accusations which are only suppositions, and fail to give those whom they accuse a definite statement of what they suppose to be their errors, so that they give them no chance to answer the charges against them. RH May 7, 1895, par. 6

It is contrary to the teachings of Christ to make accusations against another, and give him no chance to clear himself in the matter. To act in this way is to pursue the subtle course which Satan has always pursued. Those who do these things have set themselves up as judges, through admitting evil thoughts. He who engages in this work communicates to those who listen to him a measure of his own spirit of darkness and unbelief. He sows in the minds of others seeds of bitterness and suspicion, and plants enmity in the hearts of those with whom he associates against one whom God has delegated to do his work. If the servant of God makes a mistake, it is seized upon, magnified, and reported to others, and in this way many are led to take up a reproach against their neighbor; they watch eagerly for all that is wrong, and close their eyes to all that is commendable and righteous. RH May 7, 1895, par. 7

When the sinner, in view of all his transgressions, exercises faith in God, and believes that he is pardoned because Christ has died as his sacrifice, he will be filled with gratitude to God, and will have tender sympathy toward those who, like himself, have sinned and are in need of pardon. Pride will find no place in his heart. Such faith as this will be a death-blow to a revengeful spirit. How is it possible for one who finds forgiveness, and who is daily dependent upon the grace of Christ, to turn away in coldness from those who have been overtaken in a fault and to display to the sinner an unforgiving spirit? Every one who has real faith in God will crush pride under his feet. A view of the goodness and the mercy of God will lead to repentance, and will create a desire to possess the same spirit. He who receives the Spirit of God will have clear discernment to see the good there is in the characters of others, and will love those who need the tender, pitying sympathy of forgiveness. The repenting sinner sees in Christ a sin-pardoning Saviour, and contemplates with hope and confidence the pardon written over against his sin. He wants the same work to be done for his associates; for true faith brings the soul into sympathy with God. RH May 7, 1895, par. 8

May God pity those who are watching, as did the Pharisees, to find something to condemn in their brethren, and who pride themselves on their wonderfully acute discernment. That which they call discernment is cold, Satanic criticism, acuteness in suspecting and charging souls with evil intentions, who are less guilty than themselves. Like the enemy of God, they are accusers of the brethren. Whatever their position and experience, they need to humble themselves before God. How can they pray, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”? RH May 7, 1895, par. 9

“With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” “He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy.” God grants no pardon to him whose penitence produces no humility, and whose faith does not work by love to purify the soul. We need to study the example of Him who was meek and lowly, who, when he was reviled, reviled not again. A vindictive spirit will not be indulged by a true Christian. Parents should teach their children to be patient under injuries. Teach them that wonderful precept in the Lord's prayer, that we are to forgive others as we would be forgiven. He who possesses the Spirit of Christ will never be weary of forgiving. RH May 7, 1895, par. 10