Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

September 17, 1894

Parents and Children to Be Agents for God—No. 2

By Mrs. E. G. White ST September 17, 1894

The Lord God of heaven has never left the world without a witness. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Sadness comes to my soul as I consider how abundant have been the resources that have been open to the church, and yet how tardy has been the appropriation of the light of heaven, how feeble have been the rays that have shone forth into the world. God has appointed to the church a sacred mission. He has said, “Ye are the light of the world.” The light of the church has grown dim as the moral darkness of this degenerate age has increased. The people of God should increase in light and power. It is something more than a profession that distinguishes the children of obedience from the children of disobedience. The children of God should manifest genuine piety, Christian zeal, earnest self-denial and self-sacrifice. They should wage aggressive warfare in proportion to their opportunities and privileges. ST September 17, 1894, par. 1

The church should realize that infinite resources are at her command. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?” The church must be as was Abraham, who “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded, that what he had promised he was able also to perform. And therefore, it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him, but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” ST September 17, 1894, par. 2

As living agencies we are to enter into a moral cooperation with God. The weakest, feeblest child of God has his or her appointed work, and it is because there is so large a number who are not doers of the word of Christ, but hearers only, that there is not greater progress and growth in the church. Many do little except to study their own pleasure and convenience, to gratify their own likes and dislikes; yet, according to the several ability, everyone has a certain work to do. Many do not lay hold of the work they could do, because it does not please their taste, and so they do nothing. There are duties that look commonplace and cheap to them, which lie directly in their pathway; but, because they are not inviting, they do not take them up. If they loved God supremely, and their neighbors as themselves, they would take up these little duties, which God designed should test their fidelity. They would keep their souls in the love of God by seeking out their friends, and would devise some plan whereby they might reach their hearts. With an eye single to the glory of God, they would seize the opportunities which are brought within their reach, and be instant in season and out of season. They would seek on every occasion to do good to those who need help. Satan will seek to blind the eyes of the understanding, so that we shall not take up the responsibilities that lie in our pathway, and be faithful in the little services which God has enjoined upon us. The faithful child of God, though he may have been apparently one of the weakest, has wrought much good by humble service. ST September 17, 1894, par. 3

For a period of time the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, was only a Babe in Bethlehem, and could only represent the babe in its mother's arms. In childhood he could only do the work of an obedient child, fulfilling the wishes of his parents, in doing such duties as would correspond to his ability as a child. This is all that children can do, and they should be so educated and instructed that they may follow Christ's example. Christ acted in a manner that blessed the household in which he was found, for he was subject to his parents, and thus did missionary work in his home life. It is written, “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him.” “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” ST September 17, 1894, par. 4

It is a sad thing when parents grow cold in their spiritual life, and, because of waning piety and want of devotion to God, they do not realize the high responsibility that devolves upon them to patiently and thoroughly train their children to keep the way of the Lord. Parents should not permit business cares, worldly customs and maxims, and fashion to have a controlling power over them, so that they neglect their children in babyhood, and fail to give their children proper instruction as they increase in years. Children need to be trained to do useful things, and their duties should be made as pleasant as possible. Parents should give them pleasant words of instruction and approval in useful work, but they could not do a worse evil to their children than to gratify their selfish desires, and leave them to follow their inclinations, thus giving them the impression that they are to live to please and amuse themselves. They should not be left to choose their own society, and be given money to spend according to their youthful wisdom. Children need parents who shall educate and discipline them, pruning away the natural and selfish tendencies. Children need parents who do not feel they have the right to govern their children by impulse and passion. Children are the heritage of the Lord, and unless parents give them such a training as will enable them to keep the way of the Lord, they neglect solemn duty. It is not the will or purpose of God that children shall become coarse, rough, uncourteous, disobedient, unthankful, unholy, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. The Scriptures state that this condition of society shall be a sign of the last days. ST September 17, 1894, par. 5

We need in our churches children and youth who are trained to work upon the “Christian Endeavor” principle. The beginning must be made at home. Parents, who are the responsible agencies in the home life, should set their children a godly example, learning daily lessons of duty and obedience to God's requirements. They should themselves become missionaries. They should consecrate themselves entirely to God, remembering that the greatest work that devolves upon them is to train their children to be Christlike, faithful soldiers. This should be the essential work of their life, and, by training their children, they will be constantly repeating the lessons they have learned in their youth, and thus the wise, God-fearing parents will diffuse an influence from their own home circle to that of others that will act as did the leaven that was hid in three measures of meal. Home missionary work is the highest service that parents can render to God. ST September 17, 1894, par. 6

Parents should let nothing interfere with the character building of their children. Those who have been training their children in an improper way need not despair; let them become converted to God, and seek for the true spirit of obedience, and they will be enabled to make decided reforms. In conforming your own customs to the saving principles of God's holy law, you will have an influence upon your children. You will have the righteousness of Christ, and will obey the precepts of God's law, and recognize the spirit of the law as an expression of the character of God. It is of the greatest importance that the attributes of his character be brought into your character, that you may train and educate your children to be obedient to God's commandments, and thus secure happiness in this world, and life eternal in the world to come. ST September 17, 1894, par. 7

In educating your children, you should rely upon a “Thus saith the Lord.” Let them never hear an irreverent expression from your lips, nor catch the sound of a harsh, passionate word. Be what you wish your children to be. Parents have perpetuated by precept and example their own stamp of character to their posterity. The fitful, coarse, uncourteous tempers and words are impressed upon children, and children's children, and thus the defects in the management of parents testify against them from generation to generation. This is the reason that iniquity abounds, the reason that many will have to meet a terrible account in the day of judgment. Let there be most deep and thorough repentance before God. Seek God for grace, for spiritual discernment to discover the defects in your management of your children and exercise repentance toward God for your neglected work as home missionaries. ST September 17, 1894, par. 8

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