Ellen G. White Writings

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The Present Truth (UK)

September 21, 1893

Seeking to Save

“Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And He spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 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.”

Jesus received publicans and common sinners, and ate with them. The Pharisees murmured. In their self-righteousness they despised these poor sinners who gladly heard the words of Jesus. To rebuke this spirit in the scribes and Pharisees, and leave an impressive lesson for all, the Lord gave the parable of the lost sheep. Notice in particular the following points:

The ninety and nine sheep are left, and diligent search is made for the one that is lost. The entire effort is made for this unfortunate sheep. So should the effort of the church be directed in behalf of those members who are straying from the fold of Christ. And if they have apostatized far away, do not wait till they return before you try to help them, but go in search of them.

When the lost sheep was found, with joy it was borne home, and much rejoicing followed. This illustrates the blessed joyful work of labouring for the erring. That church that engages successfully in this work, is a happy church. That man or that woman whose soul is drawn out in compassion and love for the erring, and labours to bring them to the fold of the Great Shepherd, is engaged in a blessed work. And oh! what a soul-rapturing thought, that when one sinner is thus reclaimed, there is more joy in Heaven than over ninety and nine just persons. These selfish, exclusive, exacting souls, who seem to fear to help those in error, as though they would become polluted by so doing, do not taste of the sweets of this missionary work. And that blessedness which fills all Heaven with rejoicing upon the rescue of one who has apostatized more or less, they do not feel. They are shut up to their narrow views and feelings, and are becoming as dry and as unfruitful as the mountains of Gilboa, upon which there was neither dew nor rain.

Take a strong man and shut him away from labour, and he becomes feeble. That church, or those persons who shut themselves away from bearing burdens for others, who shut themselves up to themselves, will soon suffer spiritual feebleness. It is labour that keeps the strong man strong. And spiritual labour, toil, and burden-bearing, is what will give strength to the church of Christ.

We are not all organised alike. Some have not been educated aright. Their education has been deficient. Some have transmitted to them a quick temper, and their education in childhood has not taught them self-control. With this fiery temper is frequently united envy and jealousy. Others are faulty in other respects. They are dishonest in deal, overreaching in trade. Others are arbitrary in their families—loving to rule. Their lives are far from being correct. Their education was all wrong, and evil fruits were manifested without their being told the sin of being thus controlled. Therefore sin does not appear so exceedingly sinful. Others, whose education has not been so faulty, who have had better training, have developed a much less objectionable character. The Christian life of all is very much affected for good or for evil by their previous education.

Jesus, our advocate, is acquainted with all the circumstances with which we are surrounded, and deals with us according to the light we have had, and the circumstances in which we are placed. Some have a much better organisation than others; while some are continually harassed and afflicted, and in trouble because of the unhappy traits in their character, having to war with internal foes and the corruption of their nature. Others have not half so much to battle against. They pass along almost free from the difficulties their brethren and sisters are labouring under who are not so favourably organised. They do not, in very many cases, labour half as hard to overcome and live daily the life of a Christian as some of those unfortunate ones I have mentioned. The latter appear to disadvantage almost every time, while the former appear much better, because it is natural for them so to do. They may not labour half as hard to watch and keep the body under, yet at the same time they make a comparison of their lives with the lives of others who are unfortunately organised, and badly educated, and flatter themselves with the contrast. They talk of the errors, the wrongs, the failings, of the unfortunate, but do not feel that they have any burden in the matter farther than to dwell upon those wrongs, and shun those who are guilty of them.

We should labour to help those who stand most in need of help—those who are less favourably situated, who are erring and faulty, and who may have injured us and tried our patience to the utmost. It is just such ones whom Jesus pities, because Satan has more power over them, and is constantly taking advantage of their weak points, and driving his arrows to hit them where they are least protected. Jesus exercises His power and mercy for just such pitiable cases. Jesus did not shun the unfortunate, helpless, and weak, but he helped such as needed help. Jesus did not confine His visits and labours to a class more intelligent and less faulty, to the neglect of the unfortunate. He did not inquire whether it was agreeable or pleasant for him to be a companion of the poorest, the most needful. These are the ones whose company He sought—the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Mrs. E. G. White

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