Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

June 28, 1887

Self-Exaltation

By Mrs. E. G. White

We are nearing the Judgment, when every case will stand before God in its true bearing; when every secret thing that men have done will appear, with the motive that governed their life. The end of all things is at hand, and all our works will be judged. If our ambition is to be first, then we shall be last; if we are willing to suffer something for Christ's sake, if we are striving for spirituality, then the Lord will honor all such ambition to excel. But if we are seeking to satisfy an unholy, selfish ambition, God will humble the one who does this. But the Lord has spoken through his apostles, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” God knows us all by name. He knows what spirit is in us, and will finally reward us as our works have been. No one need be in darkness in regard to the spirit which he possesses. Sin will close the gate of heaven against all who cherish it, for they will be without the holy city. Is heaven of any value to us, then let us put away all sin, that we may stand approved of God.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.... And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another.” There are lessons of the highest importance that not one in twenty of those who claim to be children of God have yet learned. Shall not we learn them before our destiny is forever settled? Shall we cherish and cultivate the very thing which Satan originated in heaven, which resulted in his fall, and which through his temptations has successfully accomplished the fall of thousands and thousands? Shall we separate ourselves from God, and take the enemy's side? Professed believers in the truth are doing this. When circumstances arise to tempt them, they do not resist temptation, but fall an easy prey to the Devil. That which individuals need is practical godliness. This is the only antidote for the snares of the Devil.

God's word is full of instruction that his children should love another, and not strive with one another. They are called unto liberty, and should stand fast in their liberty wherewith Christ has made them free. But he would have them be careful that they do not use this liberty unlawfully, indulging in corrupt practices; and they should avoid anything which would create contention and dissension and differences of feeling. He would have them by love serve one another. They are to maintain Christian affection, love their neighbor as themselves. “If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”

True value is shown far more by works than by assertions, or by tearing one another down to build self up. The knowledge, the skill, the fidelity will be exerting its influence, and will speak louder than words possibly can. Merit and moral worth cannot be hidden. They will appear, and the less one seeks to make them appear in words, the better it will be for him. If a man extols his knowledge in order to stand in the highest place when that knowledge is tested, if it is not all that he represented it to be, he will be left in a lower place than if he had kept silent and let his works praise him.

The greatest detriment to our churches, that which brings them into weakness and disfavor with God, is unhappy jealousies and differences. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Then let every soul examine himself, and see if he is approaching the committal of any such sins.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Unsanctified hearts will be revealed in unsanctified actions. Not the least countenance should be given to sin, the greater or the lesser sins; but as children of God, we are laid under the strongest obligation to refrain from sin, denying the promptings of the natural heart. If there are differences of opinion, keep not these prominent, but think and dwell upon those subjects upon which all can agree. Selfishness, self-esteem, self-importance will ever urge the dwelling upon things that will create contentions and place self in the foreground, and the regarding of the ideas and opinions of others with contempt. And to speak of these opinions with others, making them as contemptible as possible, so as to make your own ideas appear wise and consistent, is quite the opposite of Christian charity, and is more like the workings of Satan than the movings of the Spirit of God. It is a breach of the law of God which we claim to vindicate.

Love to God comprises our duty to God; love to our neighbor, our duty to one another. Mutual love must be cherished at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances. This is the credential which we bear to the world, that God has sent his Son Jesus to die, to bring back the moral image of God in man: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” This love cultivated, becomes an abiding principle, and is effectual in rooting out dissensions and divisions among brethren. Where envying and jealousies are cherished, there is every evil work. All this must be cleansed from the soul temple, and then God will work in much greater power for his people. But he cannot do this where those evil things exist; for should God bless, each party would be confirmed in his conviction that he is right and his brother wrong. In the place of love there would be contention over the very blessings bestowed. In the place of acting like Christians, and guarding one another's interest, there would be a tearing and rending of one another, like brute beasts. Such a spirit is wholly in harmony with Satan, and is in accordance with his mind and purposes, fulfilling his will, doing his pleasure; for he knows the sure result is separation from God. Then he obtains full control over their minds and affections. And while professing to be children of God, they are to all intents and purposes children of the wicked one; for they act out his spirit and do his will. It is mutual strife in the place of mutual love, that if persisted in will prove their common ruin. Professed Christian churches are often ruined by their own unchristian course toward one another.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches.” “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” We have stated what kind of fruit the branches that are in the living Vine will bear,—love, joy, peace, etc. We have specified the kind of fruit produced upon the branch that is not of the True Vine. Here it is distinctly specified that the fruit which the true and flourishing branches bear, is the better. Christians should be building up one another in the most holy faith, in place of biting and devouring one another. What can be expected if the latter is done? Can the God of love bestow his grace upon them while the spirit of love, has departed and the evil spirit which seeks to destroy prevails? If Christians could let all their differences and quarrels be swallowed up in striving to overcome the defects in their character, fighting sin in the place of making the most of their differences of opinion, we would see harmony, love and unselfish workings, and the peace and power of God would be manifested in behalf of his people. “Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another.”

The esteem and applause of men are of great value to some minds; for they labor for this much more intensely than they do to examine themselves whether they be in the love of God. Satan is constantly seeking to crowd vainglory into their hearts, that he may steal away their humility and meekness, love and patience. And if they have the idea that they are not to stand as the first in every calling and work, they are dissatisfied, and imagine that they are looked upon as inferior. They are then exercised by another spirit than that of meekness and love. They think due respect is not paid to them, self glory they do not receive. They begin to envy and be jealous, and then to demerit the one whom they envy. If they can make it appear that he is at fault in anything, the fault is magnified, and they seek to injure his reputation. Satan stands by with his angels, active agents to suggest thoughts to tempt and do miserable things,—things which are hateful in the sight of a holy God, but well pleasing to the Devil.

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Here is a special direction to deal tenderly with those overtaken in a fault. This “overtaken” must have its full significance. It is something different from deliberate sin, to be led into sin unawares, not meaning to sin, but sinning through want of watchfulness and prayer, and not discerning the temptation of Satan, and so falling into his snare. There is a difference to be made in the case of one who plans and deliberately enters into temptation, and marks out an evil course, covering his sin skillfully, that he shall not be detected. The treatment cannot be the same in both cases. More effective measures are needed to check the premeditated sin; but the apostle directs the treatment to be given to those who are “overtaken,” or surprised, or overcome, by temptation. “Ye which are spiritual,” you who have evidenced that you have a connection with God, “restore such a one in the spirit of meekness,”—not crush all hope and courage out of the soul, but restore him in meekness, “considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Faithful reproofs will be needed, and kindly counsel and supplications to God, to bring him to see his danger and sin.

The original word means to set in joint, as a dislocated bone; therefore efforts should be made to set him in joint, and bring him to himself, by convincing him of his sin and error, that he shall not be separated from the True Vine, or like a limb cut off. He is to be loved, because Christ loved us in our errors and in our weakness. There should be no triumphing in a brother's fall; but in meekness, in the fear of God, in love for his soul's sake, seek to save him from sin.

The apostle saw the working of the human mind, that self-pride would come in and hinder this plan of operation. And he exhorts, “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” How many have altogether too high an opinion of their own ability! lifting up themselves, extolling self, while they censure and condemn their brethren, in the place of following the Bible rule in dealing with the erring. They feel sufficient to dictate, look upon themselves as wise, and capable of accomplishing great things, able to tell others what to do, full of confidence in their own ways and wisdom, when the genuine truth is, they are not acquainted with themselves, and do not know half as much as they should know or as they think they know. They are really elevating themselves. While such deceive others by exalting their acquirements and their self-sufficiency, they deceive their own souls, and will meet with the greatest loss themselves. They are not free from blunders or mistakes, and fall under temptations while they self-confidently think themselves standing securely.

The exhortation of the apostle (Philippians 2:3) is, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” If we expect compassion from Jesus Christ to ourselves, we must show the same to one another. If there is such a thing as mercy and compassion with the followers of Christ, if any sanctified, holy pity, then let it appear. The hardest heart, the most unpitying, must be moved by these words the apostle urges upon them: “Fulfill ye my joy.” I have been instrumental in bringing to you the gospel of Christ; you claim to be my children in the gospel; then make my heart full of joy and comfort by living in love. If the gospel of Christ has indeed benefited you, then reveal this in striving for harmony and love. Do nothing through strife or vainglory. Do not do anything that will create feelings of discord and strife.

Basel, Switzerland.

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