Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

July 31, 1900

God's Estimate of Service

Mrs. E. G. White

Christ gave the parable of the householder that murmurers might not receive sympathy on account of their supposed grievances. Grumblers will always find something to grumble at. Their hearts need to be purified. If the hearts of those first called had been purified, they would have seen only liberality in the action of the householder. Those who are in the service of Christ must have faith in him. The men and women who watch for something in their brethren and sisters of which they can make capital demonstrate before the heavenly universe that to them the goodness of God is an occasion of murmuring.

The disposition to find fault and complain too often finds place among professed Christians. They may be first in enduring hardship, privation, and trial, but the spirit they indulge is unchristlike, and renders them untrustworthy. They think they are entitled to a large reward because of the work they do. Thus it was with the Jews. They depended for reward on the long years of service they had given, believing that a certain amount of work must receive a certain remuneration, and that therefore they would be more highly rewarded than those who had done less.

The gift of God is eternal life on condition of entire obedience. But we should not think selfishly of the reward we are to receive. Of ourselves we have nothing. Our time, our talents, our capabilities, are all intrusted to us by the Lord, to be used in his service, and thus returned to him.

God has given to every man his work. In temporal and spiritual things we are to work for him. Never are we to boast of our endowments. “Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” The apostle Paul reached the point where faith in God's word had become assurance. He wrote to Timothy, “Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” This is the battle cry of one who had been faithful with his Lord's goods, and who was waiting to receive the benediction, “Well done, good and faithful servant; ... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

In the book of Malachi God specifies the reward to be given to those who are faithful. All nations will see the power of God exercised in behalf of those whom he can safely bless as his chosen ones. “I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,” he declares, “and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field.... And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land.”

There is another class, who complain of God. “Your words have been stout against me,” he says. “Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.” These weigh God's actions in human scales. Their words are stout against him, as they strive to vindicate themselves. By their words and actions they dishonor God, and create an atmosphere of evil about their souls.

In strong contrast to the murmurers are the ones of whom God says, “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” The Lord has a people on the earth, and his working with them reveals the supernatural results that are seen when the human will is under the control of the will of God. Of them he says, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

“Many be called, but few chosen.” The Lord's invitation continues from early morning till the last hour of the day. But many who accept his invitation possess only the theory of the truth. They have not that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. They think they are entitled to large wages because of their service. They claim to have served God all their lives, as did the Jews; but they reveal a spirit that is querulous and faultfinding. Thus they show that there is no connection between God and their souls. The indulgence of this spirit of exaltation makes those who might have been first last. They will be placed last because self has not been hid with Christ in God. We are not to esteem our work as worthy of large recognition. God will reward us in accordance with the spirit that has characterized our work.

This parable does not excuse those who, after hearing the truth, assent to it, saying, “That is all true,” and then fail to comply with it. These refuse to walk in the light, because by so doing they would displease their friends or disturb their own satisfied condition of self-righteousness. The parable does not teach that the Lord will vindicate those who, because they wish their own time and their own way, refuse the first call to work. When the householder went to the market and found men unhired, he said, “Why stand ye here all the day idle?” And the reply was, “Because no man hath hired us.” None of those called later in the day were there in the morning. They had not refused the call. Those who refuse and afterward repent, do well to repent; but it is not safe to trifle with the first call of mercy. God will not be trifled with.

The Lord requires that sacred fire be used in his service. We are to bear the message of the divine householder to our fellow men. This will impress hearts. In whatever part of the Lord's vineyard men and women are working, they need closely to examine their own hearts.

If they are inclined to exalt themselves and disparage others, their hearts need to be changed, till they shall no longer place their own estimate upon their own work and the work of others.

We need a spirit of love and of true dependence upon God. When we have implicit faith in him who is truth, we shall realize that worry and anxiety are unnecessary.

Whatever work we do, we are to do it for Christ. There are many kinds of temporal work to be done for God. An unbeliever would do this work mechanically, for the wages he receives. He does not know the joy of co-operation with the master worker. There is no spirituality in the work of him who serves self. Common motives, common aspirations, common inspirations, a desire to be thought clever by men, rule in his life. Such a one may receive praise from men, but not from God. Those who are truly united with Christ do not work for the wages they receive. Laborers together with God, they do not strive to exalt self.

In the last great day decisions will be made that will be a surprise to many. Human judgment will have no place in the decisions then made. Christ can and will judge every case; for all judgment has been committed to him by the Father. He will estimate service by that which is invisible to men. The most secret things lie open to his all-seeing eye. When the Judge of all men shall make his investigation, many of those whom human estimation has placed first will be placed last, and those who have been put in the lowest place by men will be taken out of the ranks and made first.

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