Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

December 19, 1893

Represent Christ in Self-Denial

By Mrs. E. G. White

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”

Let it be understood that the man who claims Christ as his Saviour, should make manifest this claim by observing the holy maxims that Christ has given. He who professes to be a Christian, and yet does not observe the precepts of his Lord, is in the world as a deceiver, is a betrayer of the truth of God. The progress of the truth in the world is often hindered by the unsanctified characters of men who claim to be its adherents. It would be far better to make no profession of truth than, making a profession, to drag the truth down by an un-Christlike course of action. The true lover of truth will say, “I am a Christian, and I cannot call sin righteousness. I cannot connive at any deception. I cannot act a lie under any circumstances, nor look upon sin as a light thing.”

Through the repetition of that which the word of God condemns, the conscience becomes hardened, and prevarication and fraud, long practiced, seem of trifling import to him who has trampled under foot the precepts of Christ. Exaggeration and fraud and falsehood are largely dealt in, in the world; but shall those who profess to believe the truth, do unrighteousness? Shall they gather the pollution that everywhere exists, and identify themselves with those who, although they are termed upright men, are evil-doers? He who looks upon the heart, and cannot behold sin with any degree of allowance, will not countenance hypocrisy in those who claim to be his children. The reason why many more do not embrace the truth is that those who claim to believe, do not act upon the plain, direct lessons of Christ.

The Lord has designated his people as “the light of the world,” and to them he has committed the sacred trust of preaching the gospel in all the world. In order to do this, how great need there is of bringing our wants within the least possible scope, that we may give ourselves and our all for the fulfilling of our divine commission. We should all learn to economize in the use of means. God does not require that his people should deprive themselves of that which is really necessary for their health and comfort, but he does not approve of wantonness and extravagance and display. In no sense should we abuse the gifts of God; for we shall be called upon at the last day to give an account of our stewardship. Let us look at the precept and example of our divine Lord, regarding economy, and making the most of the blessing of heaven. When Jesus had worked a notable miracle, and had fed five thousand people, he said to his disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” This command had a double meaning; for it not only showed that every morsel of bread given through the miracle of Christ was sacred, but that those morsels, imparted to others, multiplied and extended the blessing to those who had need. From this circumstance we may learn a lesson in spiritual matters. As the bread was carefully saved to be given to others in need, so we should carefully treasure up all that God gives us, in order that it may be again imparted to those who have need.

But many, very many, have not so educated themselves that they can keep their expenditures within the limit of their income. They do not learn to adapt themselves to circumstances, and they borrow and borrow again and again, and become overwhelmed in debt, and consequently they become discouraged and disheartened. Many do not remember the cause of God, and carelessly expend money in holiday amusements, in dress and folly, and when there is a call made for the advancement of the work in home and foreign missions, they have nothing to give, or even have overdrawn their account. Thus they rob God in tithes and offerings, and through their selfish indulgence they lay the soul open to fierce temptations, and fall into the wiles of Satan.

We should be on our guard, and not allow ourselves to spend money upon that which is unnecessary, and simply for display. We should not permit ourselves to indulge tastes that lead us to pattern after the customs of the world, and rob the treasury of the Lord. The apostle says, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” O what a representation is this of the security, the peace, the rest, the confidence, we may have in the love of God. No man, no power, can force us from our refuge. Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, and ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.” Thank God with heart and soul and voice for a safe abiding-place. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then [if you have hid your life with Christ in God] shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

Christ is to be our pattern and example in all things, and if we follow his example, we shall avoid following the spendthrifts, whose example is so contagious to both young and old. We should make it a rule to bind about our wants, remembering that every penny belongs to the Lord, to be used not for wantonness, not for display, not in extravagance; for this would be an abuse of the Lord's goods, but for actual necessities. There are obligations to the poor and needy laid upon us, and to spend money simply for the gratification of some extravagant taste is not in God's order; for it prohibits us from doing good to those who are in need. Those in moderate circumstances are to bind about their wants, that they may also give out their talents to the exchangers, and those who have been blessed with large talents, who have abundance, should lay upon themselves the same restrictions, and guard against the needless expenditure of means for selfish gratification. The Lord has made them stewards of his means, and he designs that they should bless the needy, care for the poor, help the widow and the orphan, and send the light of the truth to those who sit in darkness.

Fields are opening on every side, calls are coming in from every country The Macedonian cry is sounding, “Come over and help us.” And still the missionary spirit is so feeble that there is scarcely a pulse-beat in response. We need missionaries, we need to be exercised unto godliness. The Bible condemns all extremes in dress and the following of the fashions of this degenerate age. It is not the aim of a Christian to attract attention and admiration on account of his dress. “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord,” witnessing a good confession to the world, saying by your godly life and conversation, We are pilgrims and strangers on the earth. “For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country,” “a city whose builder and maker is God.”

When the truth is received into the heart, it sanctifies the soul, and a sincere Christian will walk through life with Christ the Pattern ever in view, and he will adhere with noble steadfastness to the singular principles of righteousness in words, in dress, and deportment. He will have respect unto the recompense of reward. “And truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly. Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city.”

Our affections are to flow in but one direction, in order that our obligations as servants of Christ be not violated. The badge of the world will never designate us as the children of God, loyal subjects of his kingdom. When Jesus came, he found sins, worldliness, and dissension in the church; but it was his work to reverse this order of things. He would have his church in the world, but not of it. He said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” The church was to be a divine inclosure in the world. It was to be as a vineyard planted by the divine Husbandman, and brought under cultivation by him. It was to be as a nursery planted with trees of righteousness, and although surrounded by evil trees of the world, which brought forth fruit unto death, yet all within the inclosure was designed to be the planting of the Lord, bearing fruit unto righteousness. The followers of Christ were to reveal the power of the transforming grace of Christ to change the corrupt hearts of men. The church was to be as a field of wheat, but a strange hand has planted tares among the wheat, and it is this mingling of tares and wheat that causes the children of God to weep with sorrow. The natural, unsanctified elements of human character work against the influence of the Spirit of God. Men of evil minds bring in false doctrines, and in many cases these false doctrines have supplanted the truth of God. The Lord designed that his church should not receive the commandments of men, but acknowledge his law alone. He designed that the pure, unadulterated truth should be proclaimed in the world. Self-denial and cross-bearing was to characterize his children. They were to represent to the world the character of Christ, and keep before the world a representation of the eternal world; for among them was to be found the spirit, the character, that should be developed by coming under the control of the divine government. They were to be obedient to higher laws than the princes of this world originate, and yield submission to a greater power than kings can command.

While all the world is under the care of God, and angels are commissioned to do service in all parts of it, yet the church is the special object of God's love and care. In the church, he is making experiments of mercy and love, and drawing men to himself. Through the grace of Christ an amazing transformation is taking place in the corrupt hearts of men. The work wrought in the characters of sinners through the grace of Christ, is a greater work than to perform a miracle upon the bodies of men. The old, carnal nature dies, and a new creature appears after the likeness of Christ. At this mighty work, angels look and rejoice. They see that upon this sin-cursed earth, Christ has his training-schools. He takes the ignorant children of darkness and of wrath, and brings them as willing subjects to his feet to learn of him, that they may become laborers together with God; that they may wear Christ's yoke and bear his burden, and identify their interests with the interests and delights of heaven. He has in prospect a well-trained, well- disciplined army of workers, with whom he can deposit his goods, and trust them to bring back his talents improved, and multiplied by being put out to the exchangers; to whom he can say at last, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.... Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

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