The Signs of the Times



January 7, 1897

The Faith that Works by Love


“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied: “What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” Christ said unto him, “Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live.” Here is a plain question plainly answered. The condition of eternal life is explicitly defined. It is to love God supremely, and our neighbor as ourselves. This is the principle that underlies God's law, which is holy, just, and good. ST January 7, 1897, par. 1

But the lawyer, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, “And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” ST January 7, 1897, par. 2

God's law requires that justice and right be exercised between man and his fellow man; it requires that we shall not injure our neighbor in his property, his feelings, his health, or his good name. It requires compassion for the afflicted, even if he be our enemy, that in all our associations with our fellow beings we shall show the same love and care that we would wish to have exercised toward ourselves. Who can stand before this great moral standard, and plead not guilty? ST January 7, 1897, par. 3

We may ask, How could the priest and Levite satisfy their consciences, and think themselves heaven-bound, while leaving in suffering and distress a fellow creature unto whom they might minister? But these men represent a large class who claim to be God's children. Each one has some flimsy excuse to offer for failing to do his duty toward those who are suffering around him. But Christians can not harmonize this neglect with the requirement of God, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” ST January 7, 1897, par. 4

You may see nothing to love in your neighbor's course of action; but this the Lord does not require of you; it is your neighbor himself, the soul God has purchased at an infinite cost, that he would have you love. You may say, I can never do this; but if you do not, you are not a partaker of the divine nature; you can never behold the purity of heaven, never walk the golden streets. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord; and only by obeying the dictates of God's will, can you make it manifest that you have attained to this perfection. ST January 7, 1897, par. 5

There are many who congratulate themselves upon having a kindly feeling for men generally. They sometimes supply money to the poor, and contribute to public funds; and when they have done this, they consider their duty performed. Wherein, they argue, can I be deficient? They perform a part of their duty; but not all. Self stands supreme. Their neighbor is not loved in the way that Christ would have his children regard each other as members together of the family of God. ST January 7, 1897, par. 6

When human sympathy is blended with love and benevolence, and sanctified by the Spirit of Jesus, it is an element which can be productive of great good. Every ray of light shed upon others will be reflected upon our own hearts. Every kind and sympathizing word spoken to the sorrowing, every act to relieve the oppressed, and every gift to supply the necessities of our fellow beings, given or done with an eye to God's glory, will result in blessings to the giver. Those who are thus working are obeying the law of heaven, and will receive the approval of God. ST January 7, 1897, par. 7

The principles that should govern our actions are plainly marked out in the divine word. Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, are the conditions of salvation. In James’ day there were men arising who were doing just as many are doing in our day,—preaching that faith in Christ releases men from obedience to the law of God. James declares that “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” He presents before them the case of Abraham, who was justified by living faith, his works proving, or corresponding to, his faith. “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.” It is by the constant exercise of faith and love that believers are made to shine as lights in the world. ST January 7, 1897, par. 8

If you have been violating the law of God, will you not, my friend, stop and consider? It is not impossible for you, who have been deceived all your life, to look more closely into the law of God, and learn a lesson there. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Has this love entered into your experience, or have you sought to avoid this plain injunction? Look into the great mirror, God's law. Does it not tell you that you have not loved your neighbor as yourself? You may seek to shield yourself from its holy light; you may refuse to look into the mirror and discern your deformities of character. You may adopt a standard current with the world; but their customs and practices are not God's standard. Those truly love their neighbor as themselves who realize their responsibilities and the claims that suffering humanity has upon them, and carry out the principles of God's law in the daily life. ST January 7, 1897, par. 9

Let no man deceive his own soul. Christ's words clearly show that if we do not follow his injunctions, we shall be lost. But altho the law can convince us as transgressors, it can not save us from its penalty. “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” By looking into this mirror, we may discover the spots in our character; but in order to have them cleansed, we must wash in the fountain prepared by the world's Redeemer. The law is not to be abolished; this would not remove our defects. Christ came not to save men in their sins, but from their sins. When we feel condemned by the law, and come with humble, penitent hearts to God for pardon, Jesus, our Advocate, takes our sins, and imputes unto us his righteousness. We can look to a crucified and risen Saviour, and claim his merits. He, the Great Physician, will heal the wounds that sin has made; for his blood was shed to make the sinner whole. Thus he is made unto us sanctification and righteousness and redemption. ST January 7, 1897, par. 10

Mrs. E. G. White