The Spirit of a Christian
Mrs. E. G. White
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." Every moment of our probationary time is precious; for it is our time for character building. We should give most diligent heed to the culture of our spiritual nature. We should watch our hearts, guarding our thoughts lest impurity tarnish the soul. We should seek to keep every faculty of the mind in the very best condition, that we may serve God to the extent of our ability. Nothing should be permitted to interrupt our communion with God. If corrupt thoughts are entertained, they will lead to corrupt actions. O, may the angels of purity guard us, that no stain of immorality may be found upon us! Every worker for God should be pure in thought. The grandest themes, the noblest impulses, the purest conceptions, should be his, for he is a son of God.
We have a work to do in this world, and we must not allow ourselves to become self-absorbed, and so forget the claims of God and humanity upon us. If we seek God with earnestness, he will impress us by his Holy Spirit. He knows what we need, for he is acquainted with our every weakness; and he would have us work away from self, that we may become kind in thought and word and deed. We must cease to think and talk of self, cease to make our needs and wants the sole object of our thoughts. God would have us cultivate the attributes of heaven. To be a Christian is to be Christlike. If we would be successful in winning souls, we must be full of the tact that is born of kindness and sympathy and love. There are some who have a desire to benefit others, but they fail because of their defective manners. They do not realize the fact that before seeking the reformation of others, they themselves need to reform. Those who would work for others, should remember that they are working for Christ's little ones, the members of his body.
We should carefully consider what is our relation to God and to one another. We are continually sinning against God, but his mercy still follows us; in love he bears with our perversities, our neglect, our ingratitude, our disobedience. He never becomes impatient with us. We insult his mercy, grieve his Holy Spirit, and do him dishonor before men and angels, and yet his compassions fail not. The thought of God's long-suffering to us should make us forbearing to one another. How patiently should we bear with the faults and errors of our brethren, when we remember how great are our own failings in the sight of God. How can we pray to our Heavenly Father, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," if we are denunciatory, resentful, exacting in our treatment of others? God would have us more kind, more loving and lovable, less critical and suspicious. O that we all might have the spirit of Christ, and know how to deal with our brethren and neighbors!
We should manifest great tact in dealing with one who errs. In the spirit of love and meekness, we should seek to restore him to the fold of Christ; but instead of sympathy toward the wanderer, too frequently a censorious spirit is manifested. Those who have not made the mistake which they condemn in another, stand off in an unapproachable attitude, as if they felt themselves secure from making such a blunder. But let him who thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. If those who condemn another loved as Christ has loved a lost race of rebels, they would by every means possible seek to recover the erring one. They would not take delight in publishing his case, in making his fault appear in the worst light possible, but they would heed the injunction of the Scripture, "Ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness." If you do this, you will probably succeed in bringing our erring brother into fellowship with the church without publishing his errors to the church, or making his fault known to another in any way.
(To be concluded.)
November 7, 1912
Mrs. E. G. White
There are too many among those who profess to be followers of Christ who seek to excuse their own defects by magnifying the errors of others. The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. We should copy the example of Jesus; for when he was reviled, he reviled not again, but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously. Our Redeemer met insult and mockery with uncomplaining silence. All the cruel taunts of the murderous throng who exulted in his humiliation and trial in the judgment-hall, could not bring from him one look or word of resentment or impatience. He was the majesty of heaven, and in his pure breast there dwelt no room for the spirit of retaliation, but only for pity and love. There is a time when silence is golden. We should always copy the life of Jesus; for we are to be like him. He loves us notwithstanding our defects and shortcomings. Let us not think that one of the graces of Christ is portrayed with no lesson to us in its portrayal. Pure love thinketh no evil. When we constantly imagine that we are not appreciated, and watch for slights, we do ourselves and others great harm. We must forget self in loving service for others.
If you think your brother has injured you, go to him in kindness and love, and you may come to an understanding and to reconciliation. When you deal with the erring, you should always keep in mind the fact that you are dealing with Christ in the person of his saints. Go to your brother whom you think in the wrong, and lovingly talk with him alone; if you succeed in settling the trouble, you have gained your brother without exposing his frailties, and the settlement between you has been the covering of a multitude of sins from the observation of others. Others will not need to know of your difficulty, and thus be put on the alert to watch with suspicion everything the one you think at fault may do, and put a wrong construction on his motives.
"I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." If the sinner repents because of your kind and loving admonition, work has been done for eternity. There is great need of carrying out the instruction of Christ in a definite manner, acting up to the word of our Master. This is living the law of God. In thus dealing with our brethren, we may make an impression on others that will never fade from their minds. We may not remember some act of kindness which we do, it may fade from our memory; but eternity will bring out in all its brightness, every act done for the salvation of souls, every word spoken for the comfort of God's children; and these deeds done for Christ's sake will be a part of our joy through all eternity. When we pursue toward our brethren any course save that of kindness and courtesy, we pursue an unchristian course. We should manifest courtesy at home, in the church, and in our intercourse with all men. But especially we should manifest compassion and respect for those who are giving their lives to the cause of God. We should exercise that precious love that suffereth long and is kind; that envieth not, that vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. God would have his servants always appear at their best, both at home and in society; and where Jesus reigns in the heart, there will be sweet love, and we shall be tender and true to one another. It takes special watchfulness to keep the affections alive, and our hearts in a condition where we shall be sensible of the good that exists in the hearts of others. If we do not watch on this point, Satan will put his jealousy into our souls; he will put his glasses before our eyes, that we may see the actions of our brethren in a distorted light. Instead of looking critically upon our brethren, we should turn our eyes within, and be ready to discover the objectionable traits of our own character. As we have a proper realization of our own mistakes and failures, the mistakes of others will sink into insignificance.
Satan is an accuser of the brethren. He is on the watch for every error, no matter how small, that he may have something on which to found an accusation. Keep off of Satan's side. It is true that you should give no occasion for faultfinding. A moment's petulance, a single gruff answer, the want of Christian politeness and courtesy in some small matter, may result in the loss of friends, in the loss of influence. God would have you appear at your best under all circumstances, in the presence of those who are inferior to you as well as in the presence of equals and superiors. We are to be followers of Christ at all times, seeking his honor, seeking to rightly represent him in every way, that we may be lights in the world, showing forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. We are not to exalt our own opinions above those of others. If our ideas are superior to those of others, it will be made manifest without special effort on our part. People of discernment will not fail to realize and appreciate the fact, and we shall receive the credit to which we are entitled. God bids us come to him for wisdom, that we may shed the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit upon others, not the influence of our own high opinion of ourselves. We are to come to God for his grace, that we may magnify and honor him, not praise ourselves, but be able to impart new and noble impulses to those around us. God is taking account of all we do and say in seeking to educate men to lift their hearts to him in gratitude and praise. Let self drop out of sight, and let Jesus appear as the One altogether lovely. We should seek to live for his glory alone, not that men may praise us. We should seek to do the work of God in all humility, in meekness and lowliness of heart, working as Christ worked, and angels will watch over us, and carry the tidings of our faithfulness to God and man, even to the courts of light.