“Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
My brother, my sister, do you in your words, in your spirit, in your actions, resemble Christ? If in word and spirit you represent the character of Christ, then you are Christians; for to be a Christian is to be Christ-like. The tongue will testify of the principles that characterize the life; it is the sure test of what power controls the heart. We may judge our own spirit and principles by the words that proceed from our lips. The tongue is always to be under the control of the Holy Spirit.
When poor, wounded, bruised souls come to you for words of hope, you are to speak to them the words of Christ. Do you refuse to give them pleasant, courteous, kind words? Those who speak as Christ spoke will never plant bitter words like barbed arrows in the wounded soul. “The Lord hearkened and heard.” Will you bear in mind that the Lord hears the words we speak, and is acquainted with the spirit that prompts our action? Christ is the defense of all that are hidden in him.
Bear in mind that every unkind word, every ruthless thrust, is recorded in the books of heaven as given to Christ in the person of his suffering ones. Is it not Christ-like to speak kind words, comforting words, even though you feel inclined to do otherwise? Is it not Christ-like to help lift the burdens when they press heavily upon souls whom God has valued so highly as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life?
It is of great importance what attitude we assume toward those who are laborers together with God. I am so sorry to write that the Lord withholds many blessings which he longs to bestow upon those who have a knowledge of the truth; he cannot pour out his blessing upon the human agents, because of their attitude toward their fellow laborers and their fellow men. Those who claim to be members of Christ’s body will allow their own fancies, their likes and dislikes, to shape their conduct toward even God’s own delegated servants. After Christ has made the infinite sacrifice to redeem us from the oppressive power of Satan, shall we fail to pity and help those who are fallen and sinful like ourselves? Shall one man usurp an authority over his brethren, and hurt their souls because he imagines that he has authority, and can do this work? The Lord “suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harms.”
“Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” You are just as dependent upon Christ for all that you receive as is the weakest, poorest, and humblest soul. “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” A mere speculative belief amounts to nothing. Do you believe on the Son of God as your personal Saviour? Then if you believe with all your heart, God dwells in the soul, and the soul in God. You represent Jesus. Those who are in positions of trust are on test and trial, to see if they will be wise men in positions of trust, to reveal whether Christ is working in and through them, so that he can represent his character and express himself in their words and actions toward his heritage, for whom he has given his own precious life. He will not suffer those who are entrusted with responsibilities to harm his children. He will punish all who are acting in his stead, if they suffer one to be hurt, bruised, or discouraged, and become crippled in spirit or influence through the course they pursue, or if they look with indifference on the wrong course of another who claims to believe the truth. He will surely punish the one who misrepresents Christ in character, in words, in attitude. Every arbitrary exaction of man toward his fellow man will react upon himself in double measure. Just in proportion as the human agent is a partaker of the divine nature, he will be in sympathy with Christ. Jesus says, “A new commandment I give unto you [that ye tolerate one another?–No], That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
Through false philosophy, Satan has a widespread influence over many minds that are loyal to God’s commandments in sentiment but not in practise. What is the character of God?–“Merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” Here we have the character of the Lord Jesus plainly set forth, and the principles upon which he acts as law-giver.
The fifty-first psalm is of great importance; its lessons should be studied and practised. We should say with the psalmist, “O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.” If the heart is in harmony with the truth, the lips will speak words to help, to bless, to strengthen, and not take all the life, courage, and confidence out of a man, and exasperate him by the manifestation of a spirit which reveals that Satan is working through the human agent who claims to be a Christian.
The following words were written not to meet the case of a few who are great sinners, but to meet the case of men who have been entrusted with special responsibilities,–men who are not to be lords over God’s heritage, but to be ensamples to the flock: “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” “Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
All these are lessons from God, to be carefully studied and diligently practised. Many of those who profess to believe important, sacred truths are by their words and actions exerting an influence that counteracts the truth. There are many whose unlawful propensities are so strong, because of their high notions of their own capabilities, that the Lord cannot work through them; for it would prove their ruin. Therefore the power that should be revealed in these men as representatives of Christ is not revealed; for God cannot work with men’s sins. He may bear long with them, and send them messages of warning; but unless they shall take heed and mend their ways, he will leave them to themselves, to be filled with their own doings. In these perilous times there are few who are qualified to do a work for the Master; and men know not what they are doing when they will in any way grieve the Spirit and wound and bruise the souls of men engaged in opening the Scriptures to others.
— E.G. White, Review and Herald, May 26, 1896