Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

November 17, 1896

Love to God and Man

By Mrs. E. G. White

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [love], I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.... And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity [love], it profiteth me nothing.”

In God's sight the life that is destitute of the grace of love is a failure. No good can be accomplished unless the Spirit of the God of love pervades every action. Zeal in religious lines cannot supply its place; nor can the talent of speech, used in this direction, profit anything unless love for God and the purchase of his blood prompts the words spoken. This spirit of love is to be brought into our daily lives, and exercised toward our fellow men. It was the love revealed in our Saviour's life that made his intercourse with humanity a savor of life unto life. He came to our world to manifest the character of God. His professed followers may make great achievements, may do works wonderful in the eyes of their fellow men; but in the eyes of God it profits nothing if love has not prompted the actions; if they have been tainted by selfishness, and mingled with unsanctified and unholy ambitions. While professing to be the children of God, their hearts are destitute of his love. Such are a misrepresentation of the character of God.

And what are some of the characteristics of this love? Let the word of God answer the question: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.”

The soul who does not love God supremely and his neighbor as himself, allows self to stand in the way. He is virtually saying, Stand on one side; I am holier than thou. Your works can bear no comparison with mine. This the apostle calls being “puffed up.” But love “doth not behave itself unseemly,” is not self-centered. It can discern the value of others’ virtues, and as a sure result, “is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.”

When fault is found in a brother, or misfortune befalls him, the one in whom true love dwells will not seek to make it public, saying: I told you how it would be; I told you he was not to be depended upon. I worked to disconnect him from that position of influence; for I knew he was not to be trusted. By thus dwelling upon his weakness, you cultivate a spirit of suspicion; you give to your brother no spiritual help, no tenderness, no love. That cold, self-tainted atmosphere is as a spiritual malaria; and the erring brother feels in his heart the sentiments that are cherished toward him. He in turn becomes discouraged, loses faith in his brethren, and grows careless and indifferent.

But this is not the way we are to treat those who are weak in the faith,—those who have not much strength of character. Our course of action is clearly marked out for us: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Those who have, through their own error of judgment, pursued such a course as to discourage one of the Lord's children, should go to the word of God for themselves; they should heed the admonitions given by the world's Redeemer,—he who took our human nature, and was in all points tempted like as we are, that he might be able to succor them that are tempted. In Matthew 18:1-14 is contained a lesson of the highest importance to those who are striving for the crown of eternal life. There we read, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Calling a little child to him, Jesus said: “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.... Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

In Revelation 2:1-3, Christ presents many excellent qualities which the church at Ephesus possessed. He says: “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: ... I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.”

But though there was much to commend, one thing was lacking. “Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen; and repent, and do the first works.... He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” It is evident that the Lord here has reference to the love that should be cherished in the hearts of the members of the family of God for one another. Something which they had they have lost, and the Lord calls upon them to repent without delay. He will not approve of work that is destitute of his Spirit and his love.

Christ taught this principle of love. On one occasion “a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ had been presenting to the people truths which, because they were true, were as cutting as a two-edged sword, and the priests and rulers could not gainsay them. With murder in their hearts, yet fearing to speak themselves, they urged the lawyer to tempt Jesus with this question. Jesus understood their motives; for he could read men's hearts, and he said to the lawyer: “What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” Jesus said unto him, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” These are the two great principles upon which hang all the law and the prophets.

Would it not be the safer plan, my brethren and sisters, to keep the commandments of God in the spirit and in the letter? Obedience to the first four, in which is enjoined supreme love for God, will lead us to love our neighbor as ourselves; “for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” It is because so many members of the church do not bring the commandments of God into the daily life that there is so little of the love of God manifested one toward another. And the absence of this love makes the church weak and inefficient.

The church militant is not the church triumphant. Satan is actively working; he is watching the character of each one, to find out whom he can most successfully tempt to dishonor God by departing from his holy commandments. Christ says: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” The love here commended is not so clothed with selfishness that it is not discerned. “He that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth.” Darkness has blinded his eyes; he is deceived by the enemy; and as a result the spirit of the arch-deceiver actuates his works,—works of such a character as to hurt, misjudge, and destroy.

“Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.” What is the message we are to receive and practise? “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that ye should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.” This cruel spirit will be manifested toward those who advocate the principles of Christ. But let not this spirit discourage those who have the truth for these last times.

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.... And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”

When the truth is enshrined in the heart, it will be manifested in the daily life. The truth of the psalmist's words will be realized: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” “Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.” The home will be sweetened by its influence, and the business transactions will be entered upon as if in full view of the heavenly universe.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” All the proud boasting of righteousness avails nothing. “He that doeth righteousness is righteous.” “If a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” All the self-righteous claims of the professors of religion will have no weight with the man who possesses that wisdom which is from above; which is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”

“The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.” How precious are these words from the Lord! They irradiate the pathway of the Christian amid all his toils and burdens. He has a heavenly Friend to whom he may turn for guidance and help in every time of need.

November 17, 1896

A Letter from Sister White

Yesterday Sister McEnterfer accompanied me to Ashfield. We were pleased to meet Brethren Farnsworth and Israel at the station. Brother and Sister Farnsworth have just ended their long voyage over the Pacific Ocean. They did not have a pleasant or enjoyable trip, and were glad to feel solid ground once more under their feet.

On Sabbath Brethren Israel and Farnsworth attended the morning meeting in the Parramatta church. At the same time a meeting was being held in Sydney, in a hall which is hired by the Sydney church. I spoke to the people in Ashfield. The service was held in their new church, and I felt grateful to our Heavenly Father for such a neat little chapel where we could worship God upon his holy Sabbath. Brother Semmens opened the meeting with prayer. The Lord gave me freedom to speak to those assembled. As I looked upon the earnest, interested faces of the children, my heart was touched, and I addressed myself to them, encouraging them to do service for God.

In their early years, children may be useful in God's work. They are the younger members of his family, and he will give them his grace and his Holy Spirit, that they may overcome impatience, fretfulness, and all sin. Jesus loves the children. He has blessings for them, and he loves to see them obedient to their parents. He desires them to be his little missionaries, denying their own inclinations and desires for selfish pleasure to do service for him; and this service is just as acceptable to God as is the service of grown-up children.

The Lord Jesus received the mothers who brought their children to him for his blessing. He appreciated their earnest desire that in their early childhood their children should be brought to him, that he might put his hands upon them and give them his blessing. What comfort and encouragement this should give parents to teach their children that Jesus loves them and will receive and bless them. Parents, teach your children that Jesus has given his own precious life, in order that they may come to him and receive his blessing.

Children should pray for grace to resist the temptations which will come to them,—temptations to have their own way and to do their own selfish pleasure. As they ask Christ to help them in their life-service to be truthful, kind, obedient, and to bear their responsibilities in the family circle, he will hear their simple prayer. When very young, children may be taught to be useful in the home life, to live to please Jesus, that they may become members of the family above. They may be missionaries in the home, relieving, as far as possible, the weary mother, who has so many cares and burdens to bear.

Parents, help your children to do the will of God by being faithful in the performance of the duties which really belong to them as members of the family. This will give them a most valuable experience. It will teach them that they are not to center their thoughts upon themselves, to do their own pleasure, or to amuse themselves. Patiently educate them to act their part in the family circle, to make a success of their efforts to share the burdens of father and mother and brothers and sisters. Thus they will have the satisfaction of knowing that they are really useful.

Let only pleasant words be spoken by parents to their children, and respectful words by children to their parents. Attention must be given to these things in the home life; for if, in their character-building, children form right habits, it will be much easier for them to be taught by God and to be obedient to his requirements.

Children as well as those of older years are exposed to temptations; and the older members of the family should give them, by precept and example, lessons in courtesy, cheerfulness, affection, and in the faithful discharge of their daily duties. Children must be taught that they are a part of the home firm. They are fed, and clothed, and loved, and cared for; and they must respond to these many mercies by bringing all the happiness possible into the family of which they are members. Thus they become children of God, missionaries in the home circle.

If parents neglect the education of their children, they deprive them of that which is necessary for the development of a symmetrical, all sided character, which will be of the greatest blessing to them all through their life. If children are allowed to have their own way, they receive the idea that they must be waited upon, cared for, indulged, and amused. They think that their wishes and their will must be gratified. Educated in this way, they carry through all their religious experience the deficiencies of their home training.

God would have our families symbols of the family in heaven. Let parents and children bear this in mind every day, relating themselves to one another as members of the family of God. Then their lives will be of such a character as to give to the world an object-lesson of what families who love God and keep his commandments may be. Christ will be glorified; his peace and grace and love will pervade the family circle like a precious perfume. A beautiful offering, in the child life of Christian missionaries, will be made to God. This will make the heart of Jesus glad, and will be regarded by him as the most precious offering he can receive.

May the Lord Jesus Christ be an object of worship in every family. If parents give their children the proper education, they themselves will be made happy by seeing the fruit of their careful training in the Christlike character of their children. They are doing God the highest service by presenting to the world, well-ordered, well-disciplined families, who not only fear the Lord, but honor and glorify him by their influence upon other families; and they will receive their reward.

Ashfield, Sydney, N. S. W,

September 4, 1896.

Mrs. E. G. White

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