Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

March 5, 1885

Christ Our Model

[Morning talk at
Los Angeles, Cal., May 11, 1884
]

By Mrs. E. G. White

“Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods.” “Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

If these rules were observed, there would not be that constant strain after the things of the world that makes life a burden in its intensity; but in its place would be the rest and peace that comes of seeking first the “kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” Many professed Christians seem to think that no effort on their part is needed in order to insure growth in grace, and as a consequence they are indolent and listless in spiritual things. But they are entertaining a mistaken view. They are called upon to be a peculiar people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood. God has opened to them the treasures of his word. Christ is to be made unto them wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption; and he would have them communicate the rich treasures of his grace to the world.

It will require a constant effort on our part to overcome the temptations we must daily meet. The world is against us; nominal Christians are against us; and Satan is against us, determined to resist every effort we make to advance in the divine life. He is watching every opportunity to interpose himself between our souls and our Creator. He will crowd in numberless cares, that we may find no time for reading the Bible and prayer. But we are not left alone in our warfare against the powers of darkness, and we should not allow ourselves to be separated from the Source of our strength.

If we would grow up into Christ our living head, we must make prayer a daily necessity, not only in the closet, but in the family also. It is because we pray so little that our prayers are not more urgent and intelligent. In prayer we commune with God, and become acquainted with him. What a privilege it is that we may draw near to him by faith, presenting the promises given in his word. Let us encourage and refresh our souls with these sure promises, pleading our great need as the reason why they should be fulfilled. Let us learn the simple art of faith, every day understanding better how to approach our heavenly Father. Let us observe his commandments as obedient children, and then rest upon his word, trusting that he will surely do as he said he would. Jesus loves us; and if we commit the keeping of our souls to him, he will not disappoint our hopes. He is waiting to be gracious to those who feel that they are weak and unworthy. He loves to bless them; for they will appreciate his blessings. But he will not intrude his presence; he will not force the will nor compel obedience.

Jesus may seem far off, and Satan may urge that he does not care for one like you. He may point to your hesitating, stumbling walk, and tell you that the God of Heaven will not condescend to answer your broken prayers. It is then that you may present the mighty argument of the cross: “Jesus died for me. He is my Redeemer. I shall not be ashamed or confounded; for I will cling to him, and trust in his righteousness.”

Become acquainted with the Scriptures, and learn to rely implicitly upon them, that when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord may lift up a standard against him. Few have the power of faith and true godliness, because, in a majority of cases, the God-given powers are devoted to worldly plans and enterprises, and the follies and fashions of social life, to the neglect of the things of God. The inventive powers are taxed for dress and the adornment of the home; but the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price, is made a matter of secondary importance.

We cannot afford to fritter away the golden moments in studying the fashions, or in following the customs of those whose god is this world. Precious probationary time should not be devoted to needless ornamentation; yet the Christian should not be careless and slovenly. It is our duty to be neat and tasty in person, dress, and habits; and to keep our houses and premises in order. Heaven is a place of perfect order, and as far as possible we should copy the heavenly model. We are representatives of Christ; then let us not dishonor him by our defective lives. Let us see that our tastes, our habits, our conversation, and our associations are in accordance with our high calling as sons and daughters of the King eternal.

Many take a superficial view of the character and mission of Christ. They imagine that he was devoid of warmth and sunniness; that he was gloomy, stern, unbending, severe, and joyless. This is the Jesus that was presented to Martin Luther. He was taught, as the Catholic Church has instructed so many of its votaries, that our Lord is an austere being, who delights in the sufferings of his creatures; that he is pleased with long fasts, and penances of the most painful and revolting character. And in many cases the whole religious experience is colored by these gloomy views, and the whole life warped.

It is often said that Jesus wept, but that he was never known to smile. Our Saviour was indeed a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; for he opened his heart to all the woes of man. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” But though his life was self-denying, and shadowed with pain and care, his spirits were not crushed. His countenance did not wear an expression of grief or repining, but ever one of peaceful serenity. His heart was a well-spring of life, and wherever he went he carried rest and peace, joy and gladness.

Our Saviour was deeply serious and intensely in earnest, but never gloomy or morose. The lives of those who imitate him will be full of earnest purpose; they will have a deep sense of personal responsibility. Levity will be repressed; there will be no boisterous merriment, no rude jesting or joking. But the religion of Jesus gives peace like a river. It does not quench the light of joy; it does not restrain cheerfulness, nor cloud the sunny, smiling face. Our lives should breathe the fragrance of Heaven, while we obey the injunction of the apostle,—“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

The soul is exalted and transformed by dwelling, not on self and on the sorrows and hardships that surround us, but on the glories of the eternal world. Unbroken communion with God gives increased knowledge of his truth and will, and of the soul's susceptibilities and powers; and the result will be unselfish motives and right traits of character. There will be no darkness or gloom to reflect to others. More of Heaven in men on earth would make religion attractive, and win souls to Christ.

Christ came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; and when his love reigns in the heart, we shall follow his example. If we keep uppermost in our minds the unkind and unjust acts of others, we shall find it impossible to love them as Christ has loved us; for there are few persons who do not on close acquaintance reveal unamiable traits of character. Even the best of us have these unlovely traits; and in selecting friends we should choose those who will not be driven away from us when they learn that we are not perfect. Mutual forbearance is called for. We should love and respect one another notwithstanding the faults and imperfections that we cannot help seeing; for this is the Spirit of Christ. Humility and self-distrust should be cultivated, and a patient tenderness with the faults of others. This will kill out all narrowing selfishness and make us large-hearted and generous.

If you have perplexities and troubles—and these are the common lot of mankind—do not tell them to others, and thus shadow their path. Do not go for help to every source but the right one; but tell Jesus everything; take it to the Lord in prayer, and then believe that he accepts you and your burden. Faith is the gift of God, but the power to exercise it is yours. A single earnest expression of faith strengthens faith; but every expression of doubt confirms doubt, and helps to gather about your soul the dark shadows of unbelief. Then do not open your soul to Satan's temptations by cherishing and expressing the doubts that he insinuates. Talk faith and courage. Press to the light; and bright beams from the Sun of Righteousness will dispel clouds and darkness, and sweet peace will pervade the soul.

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” and make them your rule of life. And “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

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