Manuscript Releases, vol. 19 [Nos. 1360-1419]


MR No. 1394—Be Meek and Kind to Critics, Not Avenging Oneself; Trust in God and Seek His Guidance, Intercession, and Approval

(Written February 17, 1895, from “Norfolk Villa,” Prospect St., Granville, N.S.W., to “Dear Children, Edson and Emma.”)

I received your very interesting letters, and have read them myself and read them to others as well. I greatly desire that you shall prosper in all that you undertake. I am interested in everyone that is connected with you. My heart is drawn out in deep interest for every soul for whom Christ has given His precious life. I received a letter from Brother Palmer, and as I read it I was impressed that you would need to move carefully. I thought that you had abundant opportunity to exercise great patience and forbearance, and not cherish any feelings of dislike to those who would hurt your souls. 19MR 202.1

I beg of you not to encourage the spirit of retaliation. Do not treat others as they have treated you, for their treatment has not been kind and tender. You may learn daily lessons, and know how it seems to be met with distrust. 19MR 202.2

Some of those who are called Seventh-day Adventists will act as did the elder brother when the prodigal returned to his home. But as you learn by experience how it seems to be treated with suspicion, do not manifest any of the same spirit. Do not practice anything of the kind in your labor for others. Keep the prayer of Christ ever before your mind. It is your privilege to answer that prayer in your daily attitude and practice. 19MR 202.3

Whatever may come to tempt you, bear in mind the fact that with every temptation, Christ has made a way of escape. You should not give up to discouragement. Bear in mind the fact that Jesus is at your right hand, and that He helps you. You may trust in Him implicitly, irrespective of what others may think of you or how others may treat you. You will become an overcomer through the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony. 19MR 203.1

It is no light or easy work to which you have consecrated yourselves. I could wish that you might work in connection with your mother. The enemy will oppose every step in advance that you may make, and as not all our brethren have faith in you, they will feel it their special duty to make it as hard as possible for those who need their help the most. They will not do this because they design to do injury, but because they think they are doing the right thing. They will speak unadvisedly, and place themselves in such an attitude as will cause perplexity and leave unhappy impressions upon the minds of others. 19MR 203.2

Those who speak unadvisedly have not learned how to be faithful stewards of the grace of Christ. But whatever the attitude of others, I beseech of you to walk humbly before God, and keep His honor ever before you. If you expect much of men, you will be disappointed. For years many have been educating and training themselves to oppose everything that their own inclination leads them to view in an unfavorable light; and, in thus opposing, they think they are doing God service. 19MR 203.3

Bear in mind the fact that the church militant is not the church triumphant. Cultivate a spirit of kindness, of true, heavenly courtesy. Some may look upon this manner of courtesy as mere weakness; but do not regard it thus. It will always pay to be kind, to be courteous. “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.... Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19MR 203.4

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves; ... for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him a drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” [Romans 12:9, 10, 14-21]. It is never best to draw off or to be hostile toward those who are suspicious and unjust toward you. 19MR 204.1

Everyone has his peculiar traits of character, and under various circumstances they will be exhibited. God requires His disciples to take up the cross and follow Christ. Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” 19MR 204.2

This is in perfect accordance with the words which He spoke to Moses from the pillar of cloud. He said, “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.” This injunction of God to the visible leader of the hosts of Israel was not spoken simply to a few responsible, distinguished officers and illustrious men, but to the whole host of Israel. We are to seek to carry out this command when in association with others, and especially in your association with those who oppose the counsel of God against themselves. They do not manifest the wisdom that is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits. Each individual is a part of the great whole. 19MR 204.3

You are to watch and pray, and remember that no matter how others may treat you, they cannot compel you to harbor a wrong thought or to perform a wrong action. We are daily deciding our own destiny, making it evident to the angels of God whether we are to enjoy the society of the saints in light, or to have the gates of heaven closed against us. We are not to consider our reputation so much as the honor of the cause of truth. Our reputation is in God's hands. We are to manifest zeal for the cause of God. 19MR 205.1

Let those who are engaged in presenting truth, in vindicating truth, be careful what manner of spirit they manifest, either toward their brethren whom they think in error, or toward unbelievers. Through pride, self-esteem, egotism, and arrogance, men put on an armor and stand ready to do battle; but their words, their attitude, reveal the fact that Christ is not abiding in the soul. 19MR 205.2

Those who believe the truth must put on the armor of Christ's righteousness. Where Christ abides, there is meekness and gentleness. The unchristian temper that is roused up to meet the unchristian temper, never creates peace, but needlessly irritates. The Lord has a controversy with those who are ever ready to reprove and to irritate others. We are not to imitate them. Many have excellent qualifications as had the class to whom the True Witness says, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 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.” Who is it that speaks to the churches? “These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars” [Revelation 3:1]. 19MR 205.3

He who loses His love for Jesus loses his love for his fellow men. Those who are bound up with the heart of infinite love will love those for whom Christ has died, as Christ loves them. Jesus says, “This is My commandment, That ye love one another.” How much, Lord? “As I have loved you.” 19MR 206.1

God requires His messengers to exercise caution and self-control. In presenting truth, let it not taste so strongly of self that it is unpalatable. Closely criticize self, and exercise true discernment in distinguishing [between] the honor of God and the honor of self. Many are deceived here. Under the pretense of vindicating truth, they are manifesting their own traits of character, and displaying a spirit of accusation and condemnation. 19MR 206.2

He who has the truth can afford to be calm, dignified, and just. It is true that some who advocate the truth for this time put on a coat of mail, and deal out hard thrusts that wound and bruise the soul. Such an advocate makes manifest the fact that he feels bitterly against anyone who does not see as he sees and feel as he feels. He fancies he is maintaining principles; but he does not cause the one who is in error to discern his error or to become an advocate of truth. By his manner, by his temper, by his overbearing words, he puts it out of his power to convince the opposers of truth. His manner was so offensive and his answer was so disgusting, that he closed up the ears of his hearers to the truth. 19MR 206.3

I am continually having these matters presented before me in different ways, and I know that some are closing doors that would otherwise be open to truth, because they manifest an unwise zeal. Men who are bearing sacred responsibilities need to have their hearts melted into tenderness. Some are stirred with indignation when they see that the truth is falsified by false shepherds. They see that the truth is misinterpreted and treated slightingly. 19MR 206.4

We shall always feel indignation to have Christ insulted; but instead of reviling the revilers, it would please our heavenly Father to have us pray silently, and ask the Lord to touch the heart of him who is opposing the truth to the ruin of his own soul. The soul of him who opposes truth is as of much value with God as are our own souls. When we feel indignation, let us consider the fact that the opposer of truth has been purchased by the blood of the only begotten Son of God. 19MR 207.1

Jesus would have us deal wisely and considerately with His property. We should manifest such a spirit that souls may be convinced that we have the Spirit of Christ, that we have been with Jesus and have learned of Him. If we pray for souls who are in error, we shall have the tenderness of Christ, and frequently by a manifestation of His tenderness the heart of the opponent will be softened and subdued. 19MR 207.2

Great light and understanding in the Scriptures will not atone for roughness, for thrusts, for bitter words and evident uncharitableness. He who advocates truth in this manner makes a mistake that is fatal to his own soul and to the souls of all those who come in contact with him. Those who advocate truth in this way have need to learn what truth is and what it can do for the soul. How many need to be melted over in the furnace, to have the dross consumed and the image of God stamped upon the soul. He who is thus transformed will not with voice or pen present anything that will seem like a fiery defense. The advocates of truth must lay off the war armor, and be clothed with the garments of Christ, be clothed with humility as with a garment. 19MR 207.3

We should watch ourselves and examine ourselves to see if we possess the love of God, or else articles will be written, sermons will be preached, that will turn souls away from the truth. Indiscretion on the part of the advocates of truth has helped souls to quickly decide against the truth. Many will be led to do this because of ill-chosen words that have been spoken or immortalized in print. 19MR 208.1

Truth itself will create resistance in many hearts; but we should have long patience with those who do not see as we do. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness: and let us put on the armor of light” [Romans 13:10-12]. 19MR 208.2

My dear children, I lie awake nights praying for you, and the Lord gives me assurance of His Spirit that He hears my prayers. “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more; but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way” [Romans 14:12, 13]. [Romans 15:1-7, quoted.] 19MR 208.3

Would it not be an excellent thing if those who profess truth would all be doers of the Word, and not hearers only? We want none of self, and all of Christ. 19MR 208.4

The Lord Jesus Christ has borne patiently with the inconsistencies and the perversities of human hearts, and why should we not bear with those who are in error? Why should so many defend the truth with an intolerant spirit and exhibit self to such an extent that they injure the cause far more than they advance it? They give occasion for unbelievers to discredit the sincerity of those who love the truth. Let him who stands in defense of truth ever bring his spirit, his mind, his words, and his deportment into subjection to Christ, and then he will adorn the doctrine. 19MR 208.5

Christ says to His disciples, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Let that soul leave its impression upon the professed followers of Christ. Oh, for less and less of self, and more and still more of Jesus! “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain” [Philippians 2:15, 16]. 19MR 209.1

We are not working in Christ's lines if we do not adorn the doctrine of Christ by the manifestation of His grace and meekness, by revealing Christlike attributes of character, by manifesting in our external experience the work of internal sanctification. No one of us is to be angry with those who are blind spiritually because they do not see. We were once as blind as they are. We must be wise as serpents and as harmless as doves in order that we shall not increase opposition to our faith by our practice. 19MR 209.2

It is the bounden duty of everyone who professes to believe the truth to do all in his power to remove prejudice, while never lessening the importance of truth by concessions to the world. We are to show by our manners, by our words, by our spirit that we have learned in the school of Christ. We should not manifest harshness of spirit, indulging coarseness of speech. The great Teacher says, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” 19MR 209.3

Be clothed with humility as with a garment. Bear no thorns to prick and to bruise others, but make manifest the fruits of the Spirit—“love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (to condemn). “And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” [Galatians 5:24-26]. In all our work for the Master, we must keep studying His Spirit, His life and character. 19MR 210.1

“But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” [2 Timothy 2:23-26]. 19MR 210.2

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” You will then have a commendable zeal. The laborer can accomplish much by personal conversation with those who oppose the truth, if he does not become rash and uncourteous. God calls upon all the advocates of the truth to present an uplifted Saviour. When your opponents would urge you into controversy, present to them the truth as it is in Jesus. 19MR 210.3

The field you have chosen [Emma and Edson were planning to work for the blacks in the South, using the Morning Star as a base.] is not a promising one, and for this reason it has been strangely neglected. But if you are faithful and obedient children, you will have the privilege of working hard. There are many of our own faith who lack spiritual discernment, and who will not roll the car up the steep ascent. But you are not to fail nor be discouraged. If you have set your hand to the plow, do not drop it in the furrow. Our great Exemplar said, “As the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do.” 19MR 210.4

I beseech you to be much with God in prayer. You can do your work successfully with Jesus. He will show you how to work. When He accomplished one work in His mission, He advanced and addressed Himself to another. “This commandment have I received of My Father.” In everything that Christ did in the world He consulted the will of God, fulfilling the purpose and design of God in all His earthly life. Thus He represented the will of our heavenly Father toward man. 19MR 211.1

Did Christ take upon Himself our nature? It was to give us unmistakable evidence that a great work may be wrought through the human agent who cooperates with God in bringing fallen man into close fellowship and union with divinity. We cannot be happy without Jesus, and He in His great love cannot be satisfied without us. God has done everything that God could do to reclaim the human race. They are like the lost sheep who once rejected the shepherd's voice, but now they are returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of their soul, and He attaches them to Himself. 19MR 211.2

“God is love” is written upon every soul who will receive the superscription. Jesus, the Majesty of heaven, will unite all souls to Himself who will permit Him to bind them to His great heart of infinite love. Jesus teaches us that God is an ever-present “I AM.” It is by cordially believing that we maintain our allegiance to God. Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Again He said, “I am the good shepherd.... I lay down My life for the sheep.” “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” 19MR 211.3

Shepherds of the flock, when do you manifest such love as dwelt in the bosom of Christ? Oh, where is the tenderness of Christ? You and your associates should humble your hearts before God and become as little children. “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” You are all very near and dear to my heart, but remember that in every trial you must hold firmly to the hand that was pierced for you. Often has the hand of God been stretched out to save you from peril, but when men have spoken words that were not inspired by the Spirit of God, you have felt disheartened. When unwise movements have been made in reference to you, my son, you have sometimes dropped the hand, the dear loving hand that was held out to save you, and you have grieved the heart of Jesus. This is why I write and caution you not to trust in men, or to make flesh your arm. You must make God alone your trust. Look unto Him for guidance. 19MR 212.1

Some ministers who are connected with sacred responsibilities have lost all realization of what it means to watch for souls as they that must give an account. They do rash, unwise things. They have not discernment to see what their unwise movements are doing, because they are not daily converted. It is a sad thing to lose confidence in men in whom we ought to have confidence. The precious souls for whom Christ has died must not be left to be the sport of Satan's snares and temptations. 19MR 212.2

Those who do not feel that it is a positive duty to be doers of the words of Christ, continually put souls in peril by their rash words and actions. But, my children, I counsel you to walk in humility. Do not let the impulses and freaks that seem to possess some of those who profess to believe the truth, discourage you. Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. If you will trust in Him, He can make you strong. 19MR 213.1

For years appeals have been made to men in responsible positions, urging upon them the necessity of being kind, tenderhearted, and always to deal in a Christlike manner with those with whom they come in contact. Said Christ, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” [Matthew 18:4-7]. 19MR 213.2

You belong to God, soul, body, and spirit. Your mind belongs to God, and your talents belong to Him also. No one has a right to control another's mind, and judge for another, prescribing what is his duty. There are certain rights that belong to every individual, in doing God's service. No man has any more right to take these rights from us than to take life itself. God has given us freedom to think, and it is our privilege and duty always to be a doer of the Word, and to follow our impressions of duty. We are only human beings, and one human being has no jurisdiction over the conscience of any other human being. 19MR 213.3

My children, you belong to the Lord by creation and redemption. Man has no right to take away that which he cannot give. Our bodies, our souls, and our intellect belong to God. His stamp is upon us. I cannot vindicate the course that many feel is the right course—to exercise authority [over] and to dictate as they may choose to their fellow men. I have seen this course pursued until my heart is sick and sore over the results. Each one of us has an individuality, an identity that cannot be surrendered to any other man. We are individually the workmanship of God, to be molded and fashioned after the divine similitude. 19MR 213.4

I would speak to you and to your ship's company, urging you to do your best; for you have been bought with a price. God deals in infinite tenderness with His heritage. He is not a tyrant, and no man, whatever may be his position or calling, has a right to be harsh and dictatorial. No one is approved of God in being severe, in bruising the souls of his fellow men. I hope and pray for you that you will daily consecrate yourselves to God. The works and ways of God are perfumed with unutterable tenderness and longsuffering love. When you or any other one cherishes a spirit contrary to the Spirit of God, it is evident that you have lost sight of Jesus and are controlled by another spirit. Never, never speak a harsh word. Shall we not give back to God all that He has redeemed? Shall we not give to Him the heart He has converted, the conscience He has enlightened, the affections He has purified, and even the body that He has purchased to be kept unto sanctification and holiness? [Romans 12:1-5, quoted.] 19MR 214.1

The Lord Jesus is your personal intercessor. But men who ought to have felt a tender sympathy for their fellow men have lost the love and tenderness of Christ out of their experience. Repeat over and over many times through the day, “Jesus has died for me. He saw me in peril, exposed to destruction, and poured out His life to save me. He does not behold the soul as a trembling suppliant prostrate at His feet without pity, and He will not fail to raise me up.” He has become the advocate for man. He has lifted up those who believe in Him, and placed a treasurehouse of blessing at their demand. Men cannot bestow one blessing upon their fellows, they cannot remove one stain of sin. It is only the merit and righteousness of Christ that will avail anything, but this is placed to our account in rich fullness. We may draw upon God every moment. As we turn to Him, He answers, “Here I am.” 19MR 214.2

Christ proclaims Himself our Intercessor. He would have us know that He has graciously engaged to be our Substitute. He places His merit in the golden censer to offer up with the prayers of His saints, so that the prayers of His dear children may be mingled with the fragrant merits of Christ's perfections as they ascend to the Father in the cloud of incense. 19MR 215.1

The Father hears every prayer of His contrite children. The voice of supplication from the earth unites with the voice of our Intercessor who pleads in heaven, whose voice the Father always hears. Let our prayers therefore continually ascend to God. Let them not come up in the name of any human being, but in the name of Him who is our Substitute and Surety. Christ has given us His name to use. He says, “Ask in My name.” Let us pray in faith. Let us not falter, but go forward from strength to strength, from character to character, from victory to victory. 19MR 215.2

If you walk carefully before God, those who believe in Christ will respect you for Christ's sake. Jesus receives and welcomes you as His own friend. He loves you, He has pledged Himself to open before you all the treasures of His grace for your appropriation. He says, “At that day ye shall ask in My name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God” [John 16:26, 27]. He virtually says, Make use of My name, and it will be your passport to the heart of My Father and to all the riches of His grace. “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it to you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” [verses 23, 24]. “And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” [John 14:13]. You should educate the soul to have implicit trust in God; for what we need is more faith.—Letter 92, 1895. 19MR 215.3

Ellen G. White Estate

Washington, D. C.,

June 16, 1988.

Entire Letter.