“Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.”
There are those who when they grieve the Holy Spirit draw away from God because they feel that He is not pleased with their course of action. But how much better and safer it is to draw near to God, that the pure light shining from His Word may heal the wounds that sin has made in the soul. The Lord will draw near to him who confesses to his brethren the wrongs he has done them, and then comes to God in humility and contrition.
The closer we are to God, the safer we are; for Satan hates and fears the presence of God. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
“Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.” Precious promise! How good and acceptable it will be to the Lord when His people draw near to Him and humble themselves before Him.
“Speak not evil one of another, brethren.” How much merchandise has been made of a brother’s mistakes and a brother’s sins by those who are far more guilty in the sight of the heavenly Father than the one they condemn. “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” There is but one answer to this question: No; it is impossible. “Can the fig-tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” The sum is proved by one who never makes a mistake. The contradiction between the life and the profession of the Christian who speaks evil of his brethren is self-evident.
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” How many sins this consistent conduct would prevent! How many souls it would turn from crooked paths into paths of righteousness. By a well-ordered life and godly conversation, God’s people are to demonstrate the power of the great truths God has given them.
“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not,”—tho you may suppose that you have gained the mastery in argument,—“and lie not against the truth.” You may be keen in argument, but with a controversial spirit God is not pleased. “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” “Easy to be entreated.” It would rather suffer wrong than do an injury to God’s heritage.
A contrast is drawn between those who think themselves wise and those whom God has gifted with wisdom. A man may speak fair words, but unless his life reveals good works, his wisdom is worthless. Genuine wisdom is full of gentleness, mercy, and love. The worldly policy which men call wisdom is by God called foolishness. Many in the church have become spiritual bankrupts because they have been satisfied with this wisdom. They have lost the opportunity to obtain knowledge, because they have not realized that the efficiency of Christ is essential to make a successful steward for God, one who will trade wisely on his entrusted goods. They have failed to supply themselves with the heavenly merchandise, and the value of their stock in trade has continually decreased.
It is not enough to have knowledge. We must have the ability to use knowledge aright. God calls upon us to live the life of Christ, a life free from all roughness and vanity. Speak no words of harsh command; for they will gender strife. Speak instead words that will give light and knowledge, words that will restore and build up. A man shows that he has true wisdom by using the talent of speech to produce music in the souls of those who are trying to do their appointed work, and who are in need of encouragement.
“Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” Let every action be such that it will win the divine approval. Into every business transaction bring mercy, justice, and the love of God.
Let sin be called by its right name, and let it be purged from the church by confession, repentance, and reformation, that the members may not present before angels and men a misrepresentation of the truths they profess to believe.
Let the words of the apostle, spoken so clearly and distinctly, and with such tenderness and love, break down every barrier. Let God’s people make earnest, thorough work for repentance. Do not be zealous to humble one another. Humble yourselves. Take hold of your own case, and by humble confession stand clear before God. Confess your faults to one another, that you may be healed. How many there are who are carrying a load of unconfessed wrong-doing. They try to shape matters so that their dignity will not be hurt. To make wrongs right from the very first departure, looks to them like extinguishing themselves. They think that if they did this, their usefulness would be destroyed. If they would cease this reasoning, and place themselves in the hands of God, to let Him work out His will in them, how much safer they would be. Delaying the confession of injustice to others is the most dangerous course that can be followed. Thus a compromise is made with Satanic agencies. The burden of unconfessed sin is the heaviest burden that can be borne. Jesus, the great burden-bearer, asks you to transfer your load to Him. Draw nigh to God, and never again separate from Him. Satan shuns the company of those with whom he was once connected in the heavenly courts.
Be faithful in little things, and you will be faithful in larger trusts. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in that which is the least is unjust also in much.” Perform faithfully the preparatory work in the perfection of Christian character, and you will gain a grand, eternal victory. “The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.”
— E.G. White, Signs of the Times, October 30, 1901