“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Those who enter the city of God as overcomers will hear the words of commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” A strong, well-balanced, symmetrical character is built by the thorough and faithful performance of duty. Joseph had an unblemished character, and as he was found faithful in that which was least, he was finally intrusted with the affairs of a nation. Daniel is another example of integrity, for he was so faithful that even his enemies were not able to point out one flaw in his performance of duty. They declared, “We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” The secret of Daniel’s strength was found in his conscientious attention to what the world would call things of minor importance. He was found before God three times a day in prayer and thanksgiving, and he was equally steadfast in his attention to his duties to the king. It is this conscientious attention to what the world despises that makes a strong, symmetrical character.
By indulgence in little extravagances men become careless in the use of money and form spendthrift habits, while self-denial in little things leads to self-denial in greater things. If moments are carefully treasured and put to a wise use, hours will not be wasted. If small opportunities are improved, greater opportunities will not be neglected. If limited talents are employed, larger usefulness will come; and by patient continuance in well doing, you will gain power to do well and patiently. Our work may not be noticed by men, and no credit may be given to the faithful soul; but God marks the diligent servant, and gives wisdom to do a larger work. It is faithfulness in little things that makes a man great in the sight of God.
The apostle Peter presents before us the ladder of progress that we must climb round by round in order to meet the approval of God. He says: “Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” Those who would make men of honor, men of trust, men of fidelity, must begin to be faithful in the smallest matters, and they must begin at home. Everyone who would be perfect must mount this ladder of progress. Many have neglected to put their feet upon the first rounds of the ladder. They want to mount to the topmost rounds without the trouble of climbing, but the only sure way is to take the painstaking way of going up by gradual advance, round after round. Many of the youth of today are superficial in all their undertakings. At the very beginning a fatal mistake is made in their education. Their careless habits are passed over by indulgent parents who would criticise with severity the same mistakes in others. Thus many fail to lay the right foundation. Peter says, “Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge.” A virtuous character must precede all other acquirements. All sowing of wild oats will be followed by a harvest of the same order. “God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
The youth should remember that there is a day coming, and it is not far distant, when an account will have to be rendered for wasted opportunities, misspent hours, and neglected privileges. The nature, the effect of all our past life is registered in the books of heaven. We cannot change the figures, cannot undo the past, nor erase the record of good done or ill committed. Day by day the deeds done in the body make our record above, and in the judgment the books will reveal our evil course, unless through sincere repentance, through thorough reformation, our sins are blotted out by the blood of the atonement. We shall be judged, every man according as his works have been. Let everyone think upon the character of his works, and repent, and become transformed by the power of Christ.
In these perilous times, when a form of godliness is popular in the world, and a profession of Christianity is fashionable, only a few will discern the living way of self-denial and cross-bearing. “Watch and pray” is the injunction of Him who endured temptation in our behalf. Christ knows our danger, for he has contended with our powerful foe. He knows that our enemy is on the track of all who are striving to do the right. With all his specious arts and devices, Satan seeks to ensnare the servants of God, and turn them from Christ into the broad path that leads to destruction. He watches our going out and our coming in, and, although unseen, he works earnestly and diligently, seeking to destroy those who are ignorant of his designs. He works with agencies and instruments that will best conceal his malicious intentions.
Through the influence of the evil one, even the religion of Christ has been perverted to the minds of many who profess to know and obey the truth. But no matter how high is your profession, you will not stand the test unless you are doers of the word of God. Those only who have a living, abiding principle in the heart, who will not turn aside to do anything that has even an appearance of evil, who will not venture to tarnish the soul with impurity, are washing their robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb. The washing of the robes of character must go on from day to day, that at last we may be found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but blameless before Him with whom we have to do. This work of purifying ourselves even as He is pure must be taken up individually. We should examine our motives, our actions, in the light of God’s holy law. We should ever ask, “Is this the way of the Lord?” Every earnest, sincere seeker will be answered of the Lord. The petitions of honest inquirers are always heard by the Author of our salvation. He has promised, “The meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek will he teach his way.” Angels of God are watching to see the development of our character; they are weighing moral worth; and may the great day of God reveal the fact that we have not been weighed in the balances and found wanting.
— E.G. White, Signs of the Times, May 25, 1891
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