Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 43a, 1898

The Laborer Is Worthy of His Hire


March 22, 1898

Portions of this manuscript are published in 5MR 162, 323-327; 15MR 161-163. +Note

Some matters have been presented to me in regard to the laborers who are seeking to do all in their power to win souls to Jesus Christ. The ministers are paid for their work, and this is well. And if the Lord gives the wife as well as the husband the burden of labor, and if she devotes her time and strength to visiting from family to family, opening the Scriptures to them, although the hands of ordination have not been laid upon her, she is accomplishing a work that is in the line of ministry. Should her labors be counted as naught, and her husband’s salary be no more than that of the servant of God whose wife does not give herself to the work, but remains at home, to care for her family? 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 1

While I was in America, I was given light upon this subject. I was instructed that there are matters that need to be considered. Injustice has been done to women who labor just as devotedly as their husbands, and who are recognized by God as being as necessary to the work of ministry as their husbands. The method of paying men laborers, and not their wives is a plan not after the Lord’s order. Injustice is thus done. A mistake is made. The Lord does not favor this plan. This arrangement, if carried out by our conferences, is liable to discourage our sisters from qualifying themselves for the work they should engage in. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 2

A mistake is made when the burden of the work is left entirely upon the ministers. This plan was certainly arranged without the mind of God. Some women are now teaching young women to work successfully as visitors and Bible readers. Women who work in the cause of God should be given wages proportionate to the time they give to the work. God is a God of justice, and if the ministers receive a salary for their work, their wives, who devote themselves just as interestedly to the work as laborers together with God, should be paid in addition to the wages their husbands receive, notwithstanding that they may not ask this. As the devoted minister and his wife engage in the work, they should be paid wages proportionate to the wages of two distinct workers, that they may have means to use as they shall see fit in the cause of God. The Lord has put His Spirit upon them both. If the husband should die, and leave his wife, she is fitted to continue her work in the cause of God, and to receive wages for the labor she performs. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 3

Seventh-day Adventists are not in any way to belittle woman’s work. If a woman puts her housework in the hands of a faithful, prudent helper, and leaves her children in good care, while she engages in the work, the conference should have wisdom to understand the justice of her receiving wages. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 4

Women helped our Saviour by uniting with Him in His work. And the great apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life.” [Philippians 4:1-3.] 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 5

If women do the work that is not the most agreeable to many of those who labor in word and doctrine, and if their works testify that they are accomplishing a work that has been manifestly neglected, should not such labor be looked upon as being as rich in results as the work of the ordained minister? Should it not command the hire of the laborer? Would not such workers be defrauded if they were not paid? 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 6

This question is not for men to settle. The Lord has settled it. You are to do your duty to the women who labor in the gospel, whose work testifies that they are essential to carry the truth into families. Their work is just the work that must be done. In many respects a woman can impart knowledge to her sisters that a man cannot. The cause would suffer great loss without this kind of labor. Again and again the Lord has shown me that women teachers are just as greatly needed to do the work to which He has appointed them as are men. They should not be compelled by the sentiments and rules of others to depend upon donations for their payment, any more than should the ministers. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 7

Letters have come to me from several, asking my advice upon the question, Should ministers’ wives adopt infant children? Would I advise them to do this kind of work? To some who were regarding this matter favorably, I answered, No; God would have you help your husband in his work. The Lord has not given you children of your own; His wisdom is not to be questioned. He knows what is best. Consecrate your powers to God as a Christian worker. You can help your husband in many ways. You can support him in his work by writing for him, by keeping your intellect improved. By using the ability that God has given you, you can be a homekeeper. And more than this, you can help to give the message. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 8

There are women who should labor in the gospel ministry. In many respects they would do more good than the ministers who neglect to visit the flock of God. Husband and wife may unite in this work, and when it is possible, they should. The way is open for consecrated women. But the enemy would be pleased to have women whom God could use to help hundreds, bending up their time and strength on one helpless little mortal, that requires constant care and attention. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 9

“Thus saith, the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and he Son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 10

“For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant: even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls, a name and a place better than of sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, everyone that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant: even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar, for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. The Lord God, which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered to him.” [Isaiah 56:1-8.] 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 11

This is the grand and noble work that the minister and his wife may qualify themselves to do as faithful shepherds and guardians of the flock. There are those who have no inclination or fitness to help the struggling souls who are ignorant and poor. If these feel it their duty to take orphan children and care for them, they may do a good work. But let the choice of the children be first made from among those who have been left orphans by Sabbath-keeping parents. God will bless men and women as they share their homes with this class. But the wives of our ministers, who can themselves act a part in the work of educating others, should in the love of God be co-laborers with Christ. Let them not voluntarily tie their hands by the care of an infant. Those women who labor to teach souls to seek for the new birth in Christ Jesus, are doing a precious work. They consecrate themselves to God, and they are just as verily laborers for God as are their husbands. They can enter families to which ministers could find no access. They can listen to the sorrows of the depressed and oppressed. They can shed rays of light into discouraged souls. They can pray with them. They can open the Scriptures, and enlighten by a “Thus saith the Lord.” 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 12

Reaching the Higher Classes

With much thoughtfulness and prayer, each soul should counsel with those of experience in regard to their individual work. The power of influence is great when placed on the right side, and it is just as great a power, but for evil, when unadvised words are spoken and undue sympathy is shown to those who are harmed by this sympathy. Men and women need to have sanctified discrimination in regard to their work. They can render back to God His own in the most devoted service for the benefit of human minds, the purification of human defects, and the uplifting and elevating of those in the higher classes. Many of these need to understand pure Bible principles. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 13

There are those who occupy positions where they could do a good work if they were converted and understood what is taught in the Scriptures. These need to be saved as verily as those who are in wretched circumstances. The needy should not be neglected but neither should those in an influential sphere be passed by because of their apparent devotion to the things of this world. Many in high social positions are heart-sore and sick of vanity. They are longing for a peace that they have not. Even those in the highest ranks are not to be passed by. Many of them are hungering and thirsting for salvation. Some in their childhood have been instructed in the Word of God by their parents, and they are now longing for help. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 14

Let the devoted followers of Christ become interested in those in higher life. The workers who have learned from the Master will know how to meet this class, and they are to remember that they are never alone in their labor. With tact and discrimination, they will find open doors in many families, where the members, if they become interested, will learn to know the truth for themselves, and will also draw in their friends and acquaintances to investigate the truth. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 15

Frequently we may become acquainted with those in higher life through those who are in very humble circumstances. If Bible workers can by wisdom reach the higher classes, it is their duty to do this! They are not to turn away from the necessities of the lower classes, and neither are they to neglect to make any effort to reach the higher classes. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 16

The Lord would have His ministers heed the light that He has given in regard to this matter. Seek to reach those who need help, whose souls are hungering for the truth. As Christian workers, we have made a great mistake in not making well-directed efforts to reach those who have influence. We should labor for those who, if converted, will exert a powerful influence for good. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 17

The Lord’s call to His supper is, “Come; for all things are now ready.” [Luke 14:17.] Speak to those that are ready to perish. Those in high social positions are worthy of far more being done for them than has been done. Let God’s ministers feel the burden of this work. Let their wives take up this work, and in Christian humility, dignified by Christ’s grace, present the truth as it is in Jesus. Let them be prepared to attend mother’s meetings, or other meetings in which they can speak words for the Master. But enter into no opposition, create no controversy. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 18

God wants workers who can carry the truth to all classes, high and low, rich and poor. In this work women may act an important part. God grant that those who read these words may put forth earnest efforts to present an open door for consecrated women to enter the field. Those, who in their life-work, have not come into contact with the higher classes of society, need not feel that they cannot do the work. It is not eloquence that makes their work acceptable. It is through the humble and contrite that God works. The dignified and self-sufficient cannot touch or help needy souls. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 19

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” “The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, with all his saints.” [1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:12, 13.] 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 20

Words of Warning

Thus saith the Lord to all who are laborers in word and in doctrine, to whom is entrusted the care of the churches: You are to be faithful stewards of the grace of Christ. You are to watch for souls as they that must give an account. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” [John 13:34, 35.] Read these words attentively, and ask yourself if you are obeying them to the letter. What are the credentials by which you show that God has sent His Son into the world? The love that you manifest for each other. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 21

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” [John 15:9-12.] 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 22

When unselfish love for each other is not manifested by those who claim to be children of God, they lie against the truth. Unless we cherish that faith that works by love and purifies the soul, our faith is as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 23

Our churches are very deficient in the exercise of this grace. They cannot love Christ unless they have an increasing love for those for whom Christ has died. It is Satan’s great masterpiece to lead many to understand the theory of truth, while their hearts are destitute of Christlike love. Thus our Lord Jesus Christ is misrepresented and falsified. A man may preach the gospel; he may understand the Scriptures; but if his soul is not filled with that love that leads him to cherish unselfish thoughts, and do unselfish actions, that bind heart to heart, and soul to soul, he cannot represent Christ. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 24

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” [John 13:35.] Thus we give proof of Christ’s power; thus we show that we are lights shining amid the moral darkness. There would today have been a large army in our ranks, if we had loved one another as Christ has loved us. But Satan is constantly at work to create disunion, disaffection, discord, variance, and strife, over shall matters at first, and then over greater, until man places himself where he has no love for any of his brethren, and therefore his professed love for Christ is a farce. It is theoretical, such as the Pharisees had when they refused to receive the Son of God. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 25

Many have united with the churches by placing their names on the church books. But very few of these are doing Christ’s works. Human nature, in all its selfish phases, has an almost complete sway over mind and heart. An indwelling Christ could not prompt the feelings that any evidence toward their brethren and their neighbors. They show that they know not Christ, that they are not molded by His Holy Spirit. Self is the most powerful working agency, and they have no peace. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 26

Ministers may preach a theory of truth, and say many good things, nevertheless, “these things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from when thou hast fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and I will remove the candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” [Revelation 2:1-5.] 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 27

After enumerating the many virtues, nevertheless He declares, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” [Verse 4.] When brother draws apart from brother and willfully takes his own position to combat him, when he has nothing to combat but his own wicked spirit which is inspired by Satan, does he show that Jesus Christ is abiding in his heart by faith? Has he come from the school of Christ, from learning His lessons? 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 28

“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.] Jesus has made abundant provision for his Spirit to mold and fashion every human heart. The bitterness of spirit that is too frequently developed shows that the love of Christ is not abiding in the heart. Satan is sowing his tares, preparatory to reaping a crop of evil. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 29

Now comes the warning. “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” [Revelation 2:5.] In this probationary time Christ is waiting for the repentance that needeth not to be repented of. Self is very tender over self. It sometimes bursts the bands, and greatly dishonors God. This hurts the actor, and weakens his spiritual strength. Thus he loses the influence of the precious light of the Sun of Righteousness. But when the beams of light from the face of Christ shine into the heart and into the chambers of the mind, the spirit is softened. The love that Christ inspires is diffused to others. An atmosphere that is a savor of light surrounds the soul. All who come in contact with such a one say, He has been with Jesus; he speaks as Jesus spoke. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 30

But when the heart, the treasure house, accumulates a large mass of wood, hay, [and] stubble, Christ cannot enter. This is a most miserable production, fit only to be consumed by the purifying fire. From it the spirit must be cleansed, or the soul will be lost. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 31

There are men who are teaching the theory of truth, to whom Christ’s words apply, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” [Revelation 3:1-3.] 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 32

The Lord is not pleased with the position of those who have a knowledge of the truth, but do not keep it. They do not practice the truth. In their soul the love of Christ is eclipsed. Their principles of action are not sanctified, holy, righteous. Self is the supreme idol. By the words they speak they show that they have given themselves over to do Satan’s work, to drop seeds which will produce tares. They repeat words that were spoken to them in confidence, and betray their friends. Anything that will cut the threads of union between brother and brother, between sister and sister, is looked upon as a worthy action. Satan stands by and laughs to think that he can so easily inspire tongues to utter words which will kindle a fire not easily quenched. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 33

Some tattle and criticize, finding fault with everything when they might easily find something to approve. Their words might encourage; they might leave a sweet, fragrant influence beyond them; but is otherwise. Their words create strife and disaffection, and evil angels are close beside them. These are the ones who think they see something that they must reprove, but do not try to see that which is worthy of commendation. They bring sorrow to souls when there is no necessity for it. If they would commend where it is just and right to commend, they would give strength to righteous purposes and principles. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 34

The men who hold positions of trust in our institutions should be men who appreciate the love of God, who realize their own weakness, who remember their own mistakes and errors, and feel too much humbled in consequence to think that God has given them a special duty to criticize, and to place themselves as far off as they can from their fellow men. This is Satan’s inspiration. Shall we provoke the Lord to anger by our idolatrous sentiments and selfish up-building, so that He will leave us to follow on in our own supposed wisdom and self-sufficiency, till He proves us and reveals the true character of our service? “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” [1 Corinthians 10:12.] The Lord is against all self-sufficiency. He cannot work with His people because they will not use His blessings, but glorify themselves. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 35

“And for their sakes I sanctify myself,” Christ declared, “that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 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 hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” [John 17:19-23.] 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 36

Here is defined the exalted position we should occupy. Let busybodies and accusers be visited and rebuked. If after thorough labor they do not hold their tongues in check, they should be suspended from church membership. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 37

This work is first to take hold of the ministers. There is so little genuine fellowship and love that not one half the good is accomplished in our large gatherings and church councils that there might be. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 38

Surely we are living in a perilous time in this earth’s history. The Lord cannot bless His people while they are so full of self-esteem. He cannot bless His ministers while they lay plans to carry out their own ideas. The Lord does not plan with them to set down one and lift up another, to play with human beings as the tempter would be pleased to have them. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 39

The Lord calls for an entire change of spirit, a thorough conversion in the ministry, north and south, east and west. The day of God will come on all who are giving heed to Satan’s suggestions, as a thief in the night. “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them. But the word preached did not profit, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” [Hebrews 4:1, 2.] Those who have not walked in the light as Christ is in the light are in a position similar to the position occupied by those spoken of in these verses. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 40

We feel deeply our great need of laborers, but there is still greater need of the inward working of the Spirit of God in those who minister and those who hear the Word. Just before Christ’s ascension, the disciples were directed to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Today too much time and labor is devoted to those who know the truth, but who do not seem to be benefited by the messages of truth. More missionary work is to be done in Melbourne. The time spent with the churches should be spent in carrying the message to those who have never heard it. When church members work earnestly and humbly, seeking to save those that are perishing in their sins, it will be more pleasing to God. Those in our churches must be molded differently. The Word preached does not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that hear it. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 41

When God created man, He prepared food for the sustenance of his body. By experience man must understand for himself that it is necessary for him to take nourishment. Hunger compels the human agent to eat food, and he derives from this food strength and satisfaction. God has provided food to supply the necessities of the body, and in His matchless wisdom He has also provided food to satisfy the spiritual wants of the being. The gospel is suited to the necessities of the soul. But food cannot nourish the body except it be eaten and digested. So the bread of life will not profit the soul unless it is received, as a message from God, into willing and obedient hearts, and obeyed. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 42

The reception of the gospel, the bread of life, does not depend on learned testimonies, eloquent speeches, or deep arguments, but upon its simplicity and adaptation to souls that are hungering for the bread of life. They need no cold problems, but they need bread. What must I do to be saved? This is the want of the soul. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 43

The truth must be a living power in the heart of the one who communicates truth. The Jews did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, yet they were astonished at His wisdom. They knew that He had never learned in their schools, and had lived, as they supposed, in obscurity, and in unfavorable circumstances for the acquisition of knowledge. It was ever a mystery to them how He obtained His wisdom. As if He read their thoughts as an open book, Christ said to them, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” [John 7:16, 17.] 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 44

If the members of our churches will remember that the knowledge of divine truth is declared to be conditional on the possession of an obedient heart, they will receive much blessing. A man need not be a logician to know for himself whether the gospel is divine of human, true or false; but he must be teachable. He must open his heart to receive the impressions of the Spirit of God. He must be ready, as he sees the truth, to obey it. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 45

There are active minds who have many suggestions to make without due consideration and without carefully examining the ground upon which they base their faith. Some who think themselves very wise devise plans of their own. They talk of these to others, and men who do not understand the root of the matter and the outcome begin at once to work upon the suggestions made. Thus difficulties arise which have to be met. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 46

Let the inquiry be made, Lord, What wilt thou have me to do? This is the question to be asked by every obedient child of God. No one who is neutral can be in the kingdom of Christ. There every man has his place and his work. The obedient heart is open to receive the truth, and more, it seeks to learn the truth, that it may walk in safe paths. And any and every sacrifice will be made by such a one for the privilege of advancing the truth. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 47

Christ laid down His life for His disciples, and He requires His followers to walk in His footsteps. He will not accept a divided heart. “Whosoever will save his life,” He declares, “shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” [Matthew 16:25.] Those only who are willing to deny self, lift the cross, and follow Me, can be My disciples. They must follow me through evil and good report, in sunshine and storm. Thus they show that they possess a spirit favorable to the reception of truth. 13LtMs, Ms 43a, 1898, par. 48