The Review and Herald


April 8, 1884

Humility and Faithfulness in Laborers

[Remarks addressed to the ministers assembled in General Conference at Battle Creek, Mich., in their morning meeting held November 8, 1883.]


God requires that we confess our sins and humble our hearts before him; but at the same time we should have confidence in him as a tender Father, who will not forsake those who put their trust in him. We do not realize how many of us walk by sight and not by faith. We believe the things that are seen, but do not appreciate the precious promises given us in his word. And yet we cannot dishonor God more decidedly than by showing that we distrust what he says, and question whether the Lord is in earnest with us or is deceiving us. RH April 8, 1884, par. 1

There are many who are really troubled because low, debasing thoughts come into the mind, and are not easily banished. Satan has his evil angels around us; and though they cannot read men's thoughts, they closely watch their words and actions. Satan takes advantage of the weaknesses and defects of character that are thus revealed, and presses his temptations where there is the least power of resistance. He makes evil suggestions, and inspires worldly thoughts, knowing that he can thus bring the soul into condemnation and bondage. To those who are selfish, worldly, avaricious, proud, fault-finding, or given to detraction,—to all who are cherishing errors and defects of character,—Satan presents the indulgence of self, and leads the soul off upon a track that the Bible condemns, but which he makes appear attractive. RH April 8, 1884, par. 2

For every class of temptations there is a remedy. We are not left to ourselves to fight the battle against self and our sinful natures in our own finite strength. Jesus is a mighty helper, a never-failing support. His followers should develop symmetrical characters by strengthening weak traits. They must become Christ-like in disposition and pure and holy in life. None can do this in their own strength, but Jesus can give the daily grace needed to do this work. None need fail or become discouraged, when such ample provision has been made for us. RH April 8, 1884, par. 3

The mind must be restrained, and not allowed to wander. It should be trained to dwell upon the Scriptures, and upon noble, elevating themes. Portions of Scripture, even whole chapters, may be committed to memory, to be repeated when Satan comes in with his temptations. The fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah is a profitable one for this purpose. Wall the soul in with the restrictions and instructions given by inspiration of the Spirit of God. When Satan would lead the mind to dwell upon earthly and sensual things, he is most effectually resisted with “It is written.” When he suggests doubts as to whether we are really the people whom God is leading, whom by tests and provings he is preparing to stand in the great day, be ready to meet his insinuations by presenting the clear evidence from the word of God that this is the remnant people who are keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. RH April 8, 1884, par. 4

It is natural for us to have much self-confidence and to follow our own ideas, and in so doing we separate from God; and we do not realize how far we are from him, until the sense of self-security is so firmly established that we are not afraid of failure. We should be much in prayer. We need Jesus as our counselor; at every step we need him as our guide and protector. If there was more praying, more pleading with God to work for us, there would be a greater dependence on him, and faith would be strengthened to take him at his word. It would be easier to believe that if we ask for grace or wisdom, we shall receive it; because his word says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” RH April 8, 1884, par. 5

Ministers would be more successful in their labor, if they would talk less of self and more of Christ. Of ourselves, we have no power to reach hearts; it is only by divine aid that we can find access to them. Brethren, teach the people to rely upon Jesus; lead them to feel that they are not dependent on the minister, but must have an experience for themselves. The minister is not infallible. He may err; ambition and unhallowed passion may burn in his heart; the vampire of envy may mar his work; he may defraud God of the glory due to his name by so laboring that the credit will be given to the poor, erring, finite instrument. The true laborer will take care that his hearers understand the leading points of our faith, and that they keep distinctly in mind the old landmarks, the way by which the Lord has led his people. He will teach them to look to God for themselves, expecting the outpouring of his Spirit. If those who profess to be teachers of the truth teach their own ideas independent of the opinions of their brethren, they should be labored with as unfaithful in their work. One who feels at liberty to advance what he chooses and keep back what he chooses, should not be encouraged to labor in the ministry; for he is failing to prepare a people to stand in the day of the Lord. RH April 8, 1884, par. 6

It is not the best way to have one or two ministers go over the same ground again and again. There should be an interchange of laborers. They should not be confined to one field, but should labor in different Conferences, that the churches may have the benefit of their differing gifts. When this was done in the past, greater success attended the laborers. RH April 8, 1884, par. 7

Some fail to educate the people to do their whole duty. They preach that part of our faith which will not create opposition and displease their hearers; but they do not declare the whole truth. The people enjoy their preaching; but there is a lack of spirituality, because the claims of God are not met. His people do not give him in tithes and offerings that which is his own. This robbery of God, which is practiced by both rich and poor, brings darkness into the churches; and the minister who labors with them, and who does not show them the plainly revealed will of God, is brought under condemnation with the people, because he neglects his duty. RH April 8, 1884, par. 8

Brethren, the Lord will help you, if you seek his help; but do not exalt self, do not call the attention of the people to self. There is a spirit of worldliness coming into the church, and it must be firmly met and rebuked. If this is not done, there is a failure to make known the whole counsel of God. Unless we humble our hearts before God, unless we seek him earnestly, we shall be overcome by the temptations of Satan; and those whom we neglect to warn, to reprove, to exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine, will be ensnared by his devices, and we shall not be guiltless. Our duty is not done when we preach the word. We are to labor for souls; we are to bring to bear every means within our power to reach them. Let us labor in the Spirit of the living God; let us love souls; let us pray for them, and weep over them. Come close to your brethren when you see them in danger. It is time that there was more personal labor done in the churches. If one-half of the time spent in sermonizing was devoted to this kind of labor, the churches in the several Conferences would be in a more healthful condition. Take your Bibles, and devote one-half of the time now given to discourses to educating the people to understand the Scriptures and the claims of God upon them. We have no time to lose; we must be in earnest. May the Lord help us to put on the whole armor of God, and labor for time and for eternity. RH April 8, 1884, par. 9