Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 4, 1897

“Be Ye Therefore Perfect.”


January 12, 1897

Portion of this manuscript are published in VSS 201-202; 258-260.

The Lord designs that every minister shall reach perfection in his work, overcoming everything in voice, in attitude, in manner of address, which would lessen his influence. This it is his duty to do. “Be ye therefore perfect,” Christ says, “even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48.] It is natural for us to expect more from the ministration of the man whose manner of address and tone of voice is attractive than from him whose ways do not please. Two men may handle the same Scriptures, and bear a full gospel testimony; one, because he has been careful to overcome his defective pronunciation, because he has learned to control his voice, not allowing it to swell to a high key, may be a most successful worker; the other may have a knowledge of the Word, yet he leaves an impression upon his audience that is not agreeable. He appears excited, and all who hear him wish that he would calm down, and talk earnestly, but calmly and unexcitedly. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 1

By talking in a high key, the speaker detracts considerably from his usefulness. There are others who talk so low that their words can scarcely be heard. Another laborer will speak hurriedly, rushing his words one upon another. Half that he says is lost, for the hearer cannot take in the precious words coming from his lips. These are defects which should be overcome. The habit should be acquired of speaking slowly, yet earnestly and solemnly, with all the assurance which the Word of God can give. Then the hearer gets the benefit of every sentence. Every word is spoken distinctly, and makes its impression upon the mind. Rapid speaking and pitching the voice to a high key is an imperfection which every one should overcome if he would make the most favorable impression when bearing the message from God to the world. Let the Word of God come as a savor of life unto life. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 2

If God’s servants will consider this matter rationally, if they will place themselves under the control of sound reason and good judgment, they will see that these errors need not be perpetuated. They will see that such defects can be overcome, and their efforts in the pulpit be of far greater advantage to the hearers, and far less taxing to themselves. Every minister should bear in mind that he is giving to the people the message which God has given him, and that this Word involves eternal interests. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 3

The human agent must take himself in hand. God has given him physical and spiritual powers, and these need to be constantly cultivated and improved. In a great measure, physical weariness may be avoided by speaking slowly, calmly, unexcitedly. In speaking, many have made a constant tax upon their vocal organs. The lungs have been injured, and premature death has ended their work. Nature will not always endure the abuse placed upon her laws. They are ignored by many, but eventually she will make her protest, and punish the transgressor. If the workers would but learn that God does not require this over-taxation, and that in overstraining the delicate vital organs and shortening the period of their usefulness, they are dishonoring Him, they would not cultivate habits which are injurious. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 4

The excuse is made, “It is my habit; it is my way, and I cannot overcome it.” Will my brethren take heed how they use the organs of speech in the ministration of the Word? They are to follow God’s way, and not their own will. Christ has given them no such example in His manner of teaching. His followers are to make strenuous efforts to overcome their habits of long, loud speaking. This greatly injures the melody of the human voice. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 5

God means that those who minister in Word and doctrine shall be educators in the correct manner of teaching. They must stand before the people as God’s representatives, showing that they appreciate the precious gifts given them of God. They are to use, but not abuse, their organs. They are not to make the blind, foolish excuse, “This is my habit. I cannot overcome these defects.” They will not continue to abuse the powers given them of God for the highest cultivation, and by their imperfect habits detract from the good they might do. The Lord will help all who will determine to overcome these wrong traits when presenting his message to the world. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 6

This matter has been treated too much like an idle tale. It is a most solemn consideration, and should deepen the sense of responsibility upon every man who is a mouthpiece for God, holding forth the Word of life to the people. The ministers of God should study to show themselves approved of God in the presentation of sacred truth, workmen that need not to be ashamed. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 7

The truth spoken, whether spoken in a manner to please or displease, will judge the hearer in the great day of final reckoning. It is a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. Under any circumstances the speaker will be criticized by those who turn their ears away from the truth; but every effort should be made to reach the people. The minister is the teacher of sacred, solemn truth, and he should seek for perfection in character, in address, giving as little cause as possible for criticism. Man is honored in being a laborer together with God, and he must work in Christ’s lines, receiving the truth in its purity from the Word of God, and presenting it in a manner that will commend it to the hearer. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 8

The Holy Spirit will work with the human agent. The Word of God and the daily experience agree in testifying that the truth must be planted in the heart if it is to work outward and control the life. The Lord’s delegated servants are responsible to Him for the way in which they treat His entrusted talents. They are to bear in mind that they are in partnership with God. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 9

The sacred truth should be presented in the most attractive manner, and it is the duty of every teacher to free himself from every defect. Those who are teaching the truth should study how to present it with the greatest power and influence. The inspired appeal is, Walk worthy of God. God calls upon every son and daughter of Adam to live for the glory of God. Why should we not advance in the steps of our Leader? Is there not in the law of God high and holy requirements? Christ represented the law in His character. He came to the world to live the law of God. The truth is exalted in the law of God, showing who is the only true and living God. Science and philosophy outside of the Word of God can bear no comparison with the living truth which abideth forever. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 10

The world will try to make God responsible for sending to them defective men; but the Lord has done all that He can for the human agent in the endowments He has bestowed. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 11

Man is to look unto Jesus, the perfect Pattern, and train every organ to do perfect work in the sacred calling of bearing this solemn, glorious message to a fallen world. Salvation through Jesus Christ is the only hope set before men in the gospel. They are not to trifle with any entrusted gift. They are not to weaken or cripple any of the Lord’s talents. The Lord holds men guilty who by their injurious habits they deprive the world of good. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 12

“Be ye therefore perfect, even a your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48.] The highest kind of missionary work that can be done is to heed the injunction to press forward to reach the standard of perfection. The Lord demands this of every son and daughter of Adam. We shed around us the highest kind of indulgence in striving to reach perfection in all our work, in all our habits and practices. This is our solemn duty before believers and unbelievers. When the Christian virtues are perfected in us, our influence will be reproduced in others; and these will influence still others to meet the highest standard. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 13

As professed followers of Christ, every human agent should bear in mind that he has talents entrusted to him, and should consider the sanctity and importance of every such entrusted capability. He should look upon his Heaven-lent talents with the highest appreciation. They came from God, and are to be used and improved. The heart must be cleansed from every moral defilement, for every defect is associated with Christ. The understanding, the heart, the soul, the strength, the mind are under obligation to God to maintain the pure, holy, unselfish principles which dwelt in Christ. He is the sacred source from which is derived light and inspiration. There is need of a deeper and more intense earnestness. We must compare notes with our great Leader, who is the well-spring of righteousness and mercy, a pure fountain. With Him we are laborers together with God. By beholding we become changed into His likeness, for we are complete in Him. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 14

Let every one entrusted with the precious grace of God go forth to the work, putting every spiritual and physical organ in training by doing every day and every hour the best possible service. The heavenly intelligences will co-operate with the human agent in seeking with determined faith that perfection of character which will reach out to perfection in action. So shall ye be vessels of honor, meet for the Master’s use. To every one engaged in this work of perfecting the character Jesus says, I will be at your right hand in every effort you make. Every soul is to be a temple for God, kept refined and cleansed with heaven’s sweet odors, polished after the similitude of a palace. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 15

Let the ministers who are holding forth the Word of life remember that every day and every hour they must stand in the path of reform. Every talent must be used. Says the beloved disciple, “I have written unto you, young men, (and this includes young women also,) because ye are strong, and the Word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” [1 John 2:14.] These human agents, in the unfolding of their work reveal characters of the highest usefulness. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 16

Canst thou by searching find out God? We may put to the stretch every spiritual muscle to have a knowledge of the Word; but if we would by searching have a more perfect knowledge of God, we must first ask the Lord to search our hearts as with a lighted candle. He knows every page in our history, and will never pass an untrue, inaccurate decision. Before Him with whom we have to do, all things are naked and open. As we earnestly draw nigh to God, the truth in regard to ourselves will appear. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 17

“Search me, O God, and know my heart.” [Psalm 139:23.] When this prayer ascends to God with contrition of soul, there will be no exaltation of self. Christ will be all and in all. We shall not rest until the Holy Spirit reveals Him unto us as Christ our Righteousness. God then has found the man, and the man is greatly relieved in being found of God. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 18

Young men, God appeals to you. “I write unto you young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” [1 John 2:14.] We can know God only as Moses knew Him—by beholding the glory of His character. The Lord would have His church recognize the talents of young men, and do good missionary work by having the experienced servants of God uniting with the young men, teaching them kindly how to make a right use of their entrusted talent of time. Let there be a serious review of the past year, and see how your time has been marked off. Call your thoughts home to the true Center, and see what account you will give of your time before a heart-searching God. 12LtMs, Ms 4, 1897, par. 19