Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

June 10, 1897

The True Standard of Character

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned; and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer.”

Without holiness no man can have an entrance into everlasting life, and the question of deepest interest to each one should be, Am I meeting the requirements of the law of God? That law is holy, just, and good, and God would have us daily compare our actions with this, his great standard of righteousness. Only by a close examination of self in the light of God's word can we discover our deviations from his holy rule of right. Through faith in Christ we may overcome these defects in our character; for he desires that we shall “cease to do evil,” and “learn to do well.” In him we may have pardon for past failures, and in his strength grow up to be perfect men and women in Christ Jesus.

The more closely the Scriptures are studied, the more clearly shall we understand the true character of our thoughts and actions. But thousands put the Bible on one side for the same reason that Ahab hated Micaiah. Because it prophesies evil against the sinner, they claim that they find objections and contradictions in God's word. While professing to be open to conviction, they allow prejudice to hold sway, and refuse to see the truth which that word reveals.

There is another class who profess to keep the commandments of God; but their course of action shows that they do not revere his law, or make it the rule of their lives. They prefer their own imaginations and inclinations to God's holy truth and requirements. These persons deceive themselves. They robe themselves in the garments of their own righteousness, which God has declared are “as filthy rags.” They think that they are rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. It was to this class that Christ referred when he said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

It is impossible to deceive the Lord, or to hide anything from him. He is acquainted with all our ways; he is a witness to all our works; he understands the thoughts and intents of the heart. He keeps a record of the deeds done in the body, and in the day of final reckoning, each will be judged according to his works.

In the probationary time granted us here, we are each building a structure that is to have the inspection of the Judge of all the earth. This work is the molding of our characters. Every act of our lives is a stone in that building, every faculty is a worker, every blow that is struck is for good or for evil. The words of inspiration warn us to take heed how we build, to see that our foundation is sure. If we build upon the solid rock, pure, noble, upright deeds, the structure will go up beautiful and symmetrical, a fit temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Love is the principle that underlies God's government in heaven and on earth, and this love must be interwoven in the life of the Christian. The love of Christ is not a fitful love; it is deep, and broad, and full. Its possessor will not say, “I will love only those who love me.” The heart that is influenced by this holy principle will be carried above everything of a selfish nature.

Even among professing Christians there are persons who are always on the watch for some thing at which to take offense. If their friends are absorbed in matters that require their attention, and have no time to devote to them, they feel slighted and injured. In the family they seize upon some unfortunate word that has been dropped, and take offense at it, as though it were designed to hurt and disparage them. If these continue to cherish such unlovely traits of character, they cannot expect to be loved. Their lives are like the gorgeous flowers which possess no fragrance. Much to be preferred is the simple, unpretending blossom that blesses with its sweet odor those who come in contact with it.

Instead of finding fault with others, these persons should seek to become lovely by putting on Christ, and adding his graces to the character. Through the apostle Peter, Christ says: “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

When we consider the light and blessings we have received from God, we wonder that any among us should be so far separated from him. God regards the sin of neglect, in our day of light and opportunities, as of even greater magnitude than the evils practised by heathen idolaters, who are ignorant of the living God and the wondrous plan of redemption.

With many of Christ's professed followers, there is a desire to be thought first. But when the heart is one with Christ, this spirit will not be manifested. Christ was “meek and lowly in heart,” and he invites us to learn of him. The Christian is daily to take advance steps on the ladder of progress, “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Character is formed by patient industry, unwearied application.

The character of Christ is the standard which the Christian is to keep before him. His aim should be to possess those graces that were exemplified in the life of Christ in humanity; for only in the possession of these can he honor his Redeemer, and render to him the oblation of a pure heart.

The religion of Jesus Christ is not merely to prepare us for the future immortal life; it is to enable us to live the Christ life here on earth. Jesus is not only our Pattern; he is also our Friend and our Guide; and by taking hold of his strong arm, and partaking of his Spirit, we may walk “even as he walked.”

Mrs. E. G. White

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