Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

November 12, 1895

Duty of Man to His Fellow-Men

By Mrs. E. G. White

We are not to look with indifference upon those who are dishonored through sin; “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Having given Jesus, God will with him also freely give us all things that pertain unto life and godliness. However wretched may be the specimens of humanity that men spurn and turn aside from, they are not too wretched, too low, for the notice and love of God. He sends his Holy Spirit to yearn over them with tenderness, seeking to draw them to himself. God uses humanity to uplift humanity. The Lord Jesus condescended to clothe his divinity with humanity, and to stand as a representative of God upon earth, an example of what God would have humanity become through the grace of Christ. God has not left humanity out of the plan for saving humanity. Humanity must become the channel through which the grace of God is to flow to reach humanity.

What a different state of things would we see in the earth if all who profess to believe in Jesus Christ should conscientiously live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God! How many hearts would be gladdened if the instruction of Christ was carried out, when he says, “When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and thou shalt be blessed.” “When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee.” We are to realize that the poor and the suffering have claims upon us; for they are God's children. Christ said, “All ye are brethren.”

The very same principles which were given to the children of Israel for their guidance, by Christ, their invisible Leader, are the principles that he gave upon the mount for the benefit not only of those who were there assembled, but for our admonition to the very close of time. The poor are left within our gates as our legacy. The poor are our brethren, and God has said they shall never cease out of the land. God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our being.” God has made all nations of one blood, and this tells the great truth of the kinship of men. Every man is related to his fellow-men both by creation and redemption. This was the truth that Christ constantly sought to keep before his disciples and before men. The feast at the house of the Pharisee was made an occasion for presenting lessons of our individual responsibility to the human race, and for pointing out the duties that are enjoined upon man to his fellow-men. Christ gave this lesson at the feast, and it will not lose its force through all time. Its results will be as far-reaching as eternity. Christ himself has told us what constitutes true Christianity. He has shown what are the duties of brothers to brothers, of humanity to humanity, as subjects of his kingdom. His instruction to men is stamped with the seal of Heaven. The question is, Shall we walk in the light? shall we practice his words? When you make a dinner or a supper, will you pass by your friends, your brethren, your kinsmen, your wealthy neighbors, lest they bid you again, and recompense you, and call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, that you may be blessed? for they cannot recompense you, but you will be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

In the words of Christ we see a light shining amid the moral darkness of the world. Those who follow his instruction will form such characters as will fit them for a home among the ransomed. Those who have tender regard for the poor, who exercise sympathy to the bereaved, who heal the broken in heart, who brighten desolate homes, are following the example that is given in the life of Christ. The Lord Jesus has laid bare the great principles of genuine godliness. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Those who profess to be Christians should not make of none effect the words of Christ by contrary practices. Many by their practices say, “It is my business to center my affections upon my home, my relatives, my kindred, and my country. I have abundant home missionary work to do among my own.” It is true that the first work that should be done is the work in the home. We should teach the lessons that Christ has so plainly specified, and carry out the instruction he has given in regard to the suffering of the world. The poor are God's property, and that which is done for them will be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

What is pure religion? Christ has told us that pure religion is the exercise of pity, sympathy, and love, in the home, in the church, and in the world. This is the kind of religion to teach to the children, and is the genuine article. Teach them that they are not to center their thoughts upon themselves, but that wherever there is human need and suffering, there is a field for missionary work. There are many unpromising subjects about us, who are sacrificing the powers of their God-given manhood to pernicious habits. Shall we despise them?—No; the Lord Jesus has purchased their souls at an infinite price, even by the shedding of his heart's blood. Are you who profess to be the children of God, Christians in the full acceptation of the term, or in your life-practice are you only counterfeits, pretenders? Do you ask, as did Cain, “Am I my brother's keeper?” Will the Lord say to any of us as he said to Cain, “What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground”? Shall we fail to do our God-given work, and not to seek to save that which was lost? There are many who ask, as did the lawyer, “Who is my neighbor?” The answer comes down to us in the circumstances that happened near Jericho, when the priest and the Levite passed by on the other side, and left the poor bruised and wounded stranger to be taken care of by the good Samaritan. Every one who is in suffering need is our neighbor. Every straying son and daughter of Adam, who has been insnared by the enemy of souls, and bound in the slavery of wrong habits that blight the God-given manhood or womanhood, is my neighbor.

Would that the lessons given by Christ might be brought home to every soul! Would that children might be educated from their babyhood, through their childhood and youth, to understand what is the missionary work to be done right around them. Let the home be made a place for religious instruction. Let parents become mouthpieces of the Lord God of Israel, to teach the precepts of true Christianity, and let them be examples of what the principles of love can make men and women. We are to think and care for others who need our love, our tenderness, and care. We should ever remember that we are representatives of Christ, and that we are to share the blessings that he gives, not with those who can recompense us again, but with those who will appreciate the gifts that will supply their temporal and spiritual necessities. Those who give feasts for the purpose of helping those who have but little pleasure, for the purpose of bringing brightness into their dreary lives, for the purpose of relieving their poverty and distress, are acting unselfishly and in harmony with the instruction of Christ. Those who go forth to help souls that are bound in the slavery of sinful habits, go upon the mission that Jesus has sent them. There are poor souls that cannot of themselves break the chain that binds them. They have wandered far from God. They need help which the Lord has given to his stewards in talents of means and influence. Shall not those who are blessed seek to glorify God by reshaping the broken character of those who have fallen through sin? Shall not human agents become co-workers with God? With many the powers of the soul have become palsied, they are blinded with sin, their spiritual powers are incapable of appropriating and assimilating the elements of divine life. Satan exercises his ingenuity in perverting every God-given capacity. He works in such a way as to cause the recipient of God's blessing to use his powers against the Lord who created him for his own glory, and against him who paid an infinite price for his redemption. But the Lord will work through human agencies, if they will give themselves to him to be worked by the Holy Spirit. Christ will use every consecrated ability.

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Through the only begotten Son of God, life and immortality are brought to light. Through him are poured the streams of salvation. Through him comes the power by which the character may be reshaped, and the soul renewed to bear the moral image of God. When souls are converted to God, they become mediums through which a vital current may be communicated for the transformation of the character of many others. Recovered themselves from Satan's power, they know how to work. Human nature becomes united with the divine nature, Christ lives in the human soul, and acts through all the powers of body, soul, and spirit. From the converted soul, light shines forth to those who are perishing. Those who have been in sin, and have experienced the love of Christ, know how to sympathize, how to adapt themselves to those who are in sin and sorrow, and can exercise the love of Christ through the channel of human affection. Thus a current of blessedness and joy flows through the human channel that is consecrated to the service of God. What a stream of thanksgiving and joy flows back to God through human channels. What vast numbers might unite in becoming active members of the army of the Lord in place of living a life of selfishness and self-pleasing, that at last proves itself to be not life but the veriest mockery. But when life is enriched with the life of Christ, when its impulses are quickened by the faith that works by love and purifies the soul, then the loftiest purposes are carried out, the noblest work is done, in the name of Christ. Through his own transforming grace, Christ is multiplied in the lives of those who are restored to his image. They co-operate with Christ in offering the divine gift of the whole human family.

Selfishness would make a monopoly of eternal life. The Jewish nation thought to confine the benefits of salvation to their own nation; but the world's Redeemer showed them that salvation is like the air we breathe, like the atmosphere that belongs to the whole world. Every soul can be enriched by the love of God. The selfishness that would number Israel is an offense to God; for God's gift belongs not to a select few but to the whole word. What strange work Elijah would have done in numbering Israel in the time when God's judgments were falling upon his backsliding people. He could only count one on the Lord's side. He said in mournful accents, “I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” The word of the Lord surprised the disconsolate man; for Christ said, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal.” No man is to number Israel, but let every man see that he has a heart of flesh, a heart of tender sympathy, that, like the heart of Christ, reaches out for the salvation of the world.

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