By Mrs. E. G. White
“Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”
These words should teach us to be very careful how we snap the thread of our faith by dwelling on our difficulties until they are large in our own eyes, and in the eyes of others, who cannot read our inner, heart life. All should remember that the conversation has a great influence for good or for ill.
By sowing evil in the minds of the weak, who have no vital connection with God, by telling them how little confidence you have in others, you tear away the hold their brethren have on them, because you destroy their confidence in them. But do not allow the enemy so to use your tongue; for at the day of final reckoning, God will call you to give an account of your words. Do not exert an influence that will break the hold of any trembling soul from God. Even though you are not treated as you think you should be, do not allow the root of bitterness to spring up; for thereby many will be defiled. By your words you may cause others to become suspicious. They will then think evil as you do, and will begin to accuse as you have done. Thus you place them where they cannot be at peace with their brethren. They sell their birthright for a morsel of sympathy, that they may hear themselves praised by those who do not know whether their hearts are cleansed or defiled. What is the sympathy of poor mortals worth? God alone can look beneath the surface. He measures the spirit, and he alone can know what men are.
Many who claim to be Christians are not Christians. The distinction between the position of the saved and the lost is not now as plain as it by and by will be. At times the contrast is scarcely discernible. Our only safety is in refusing to follow any one in a questionable course. Stand firmly for the right. When the Lord makes up his jewels, the contrast between the righteous and the wicked will be decidedly marked. “Then shall ye return,” writes the prophet Malachi, “and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” Murmurers and accusers, those who are envious and jealous, will then be found standing on their own chosen side, with Satan and his angels.
The man who loves God meditates on the law of God day and night. He is instant in season and out of season. He bears the fruit of a branch vitally connected with the Vine. As he has opportunity, he does good; and everywhere, at all times and in all places, he finds opportunity to work for God. He is one of the Lord's evergreen-trees; and he carries fragrance with him wherever he goes. A wholesome atmosphere surrounds his soul. The beauty of his well-ordered life and godly conversation inspires faith and hope and courage in others. This is Christianity in practise. Seek to be an eve-green-tree. Wear the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. Cherish the grace of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness. This is the fruit of the Christian tree. Planted by the rivers of water, it always brings forth its fruit in due season.
The Christ the Christian loves is the bread of life. He who eats Christ's flesh and drinks his blood becomes one with him. The word of God is his meat and his drink. He prospers in whatever he does; for he does not look merely to this present world to receive his reward; he labors earnestly and truly, and his reward is an eternity of blessedness. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.”
The graces of Christ's Spirit must be cherished and revealed by the sons and daughters of God. By their humility, their penitence, their desire to be like Jesus, to be conformed to his will by practising his lessons in their daily life, they honor him. They hope in God, and commit the keeping of their souls to him, as unto a faithful Creator, and God honors their trust in him.
But God takes none to heaven but those who are first made saints in this world through the grace of Christ, those in whom he can see Christ exemplified. When the love of Christ is an abiding principle in the soul, we shall realize that we are hid with Christ in God. Then we shall be able to say: “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Look to Calvary. Let every proud look be humbled. Look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” “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.” The cry of the broken heart is as music in the ears of the Lord, because he can restore and heal.
“The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.... As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” He looks upon his redeemed heritage with pity. He is ready to pardon their sins if they will surrender and be loyal to him. In order to be just, and yet the justifier of the sinner, he laid the punishment of sin upon his only begotten Son.
But it is only because of the value of the sacrifice made for us that we are of value in the Lord's sight. It is only because of Christ's imparted righteousness that we are counted precious by the Lord. For Christ's sake he pardons those that fear him. He does not see in them the vileness of the sinner; he recognizes in them the likeness of his Son, in whom they believe. In this way only can God take pleasure in any of us. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
Were it not for Christ's atoning sacrifice, there would be nothing in us in which God could delight. All the natural goodness of man is worthless in God's sight. He does not take pleasure in any man who retains his old nature, and is not so renewed in knowledge and grace that he is a new man in Christ. Our education, our talents, our means, are gifts entrusted to us by God, that he may test us. If we use them for self-glorification, God says, “I cannot delight in them; for Christ has died for them in vain.”
If men do not reflect the spirit and attributes of Christ, God cannot take pleasure in them. One word which exalts self causes the light of God's countenance to be withdrawn. Those only who, by prayer and watchfulness and love, work the works of Christ, can God rejoice over with singing. The more fully the Lord sees the character of his beloved Son revealed in his people, the greater is his satisfaction and delight in them. God himself, and the heavenly angels, rejoice over them with singing. The believing sinner is pronounced innocent, while the guilt is placed on Christ. The righteousness of Christ is placed on the debtor's account, and against his name on the balance sheet is written: Pardoned. Eternal Life.
“Unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” Here is the work which every son and daughter of God must do. But to adorn the doctrine of Christ our Saviour, we must have the mind that was in Christ. Our likes and dislikes, our desire to be first, to favor self to the disadvantage of others, must be overcome. The peace of God must rule in our hearts. Christ must be in us a living, working principle.
“Ye are God's husbandry.” As one takes pleasure in the cultivation of a garden, so God takes pleasure in his believing sons and daughters. A garden demands constant labor. The weeds must be removed; new plants must be set out; branches that are making too rapid development must be pruned back. So the Lord works for his garden, so he tends his plants. He cannot take pleasure in any development that does not reveal the graces of the character of Christ. The blood of Christ has made men and women God's precious charge. Then how careful should we be not to manifest too much freedom in pulling up the plants that God has placed in his garden! Some plants are so feeble that they have hardly any life, and for these the Lord has a special care.
In all your transactions with your fellow men, never forget that you are dealing with God's property. Be kind; be pitiful; be courteous. Respect God's purchased possession. Treat one another with tenderness and courtesy. Exert every God-given faculty to become examples to others. Lose not one opportunity to work for God, that through your influence you may qualify others to work for him. By your obedience to God, respect yourselves as the purchased possession of his dear Son. Seek to be uplifted in Christ. This work is as lasting as eternity. Many will regret that their ideas of Christianity were not uplifted with an uplifted Saviour. Shall we, sons and daughters of God, forget our royal birth? Shall we not rather honor our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? Shall we not show forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light?
God has not made any man or woman a sin-bearer. He has not laid upon any one the duty of confessing the sins of his fellow men. Each one is to search his own heart, and confess his own sins. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Leave your fellow men in the hands of God. Let him who knows the heart and all its waywardness be able to deal with you in mercy because you have shown mercy and compassion and love. “Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”