Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

April 14, 1898

The Little Things—No. 1

The active service of God is directly connected with the ordinary duties of life, even its humblest occupations. We are to serve God just where he puts us. He is to place us individually, and not we ourselves. Perhaps service in the home life is the place we are to occupy for a time, if not always. Then a preparation for that work should be obtained, that we may do our best in service for the Lord.

The Lord is testing and proving us, to see what sort of timbers, or attributes, we are bringing into the character-building. If we are listless and indifferent, negligent and careless, in the small every-day duties, we shall never be fitted for any other service for God. He that is faithful in that which is least will be faithful also in much. He that is unfaithful in that which is least, would certainly repeat this unfaithfulness if placed in higher positions of trust and given larger responsibilities. Those who do their temporal business in a slack, shiftless manner, will be led to do business in more responsible places in the same way. The service of God will be done in a haphazard manner. But when there is order and exactness in the little things with which we have to do in ordinary life, what need for wonder that the same exactness is brought into the religious life?

The importance of little things is underrated, just because they are small; but the influence of the little things for good or for evil is great. They supply much of the actual discipline of life for every human being. They are part of the training of the soul in the sanctification of all our entrusted talents to God. Faithfulness in the little things in the line of duty makes the worker in God's service reflect more and more the likeness of Christ. Our Saviour is a Saviour for the perfection of the whole man. He is not the God of part of the being only. The grace of Christ works to the disciplining of the whole human fabric. He made all. He has redeemed all. He has made the mind, the strength, the body as well as the soul, partaker of the divine nature, and all is his purchased possession. He must be served with the whole mind, heart, soul, and strength. Then the Lord will be glorified in his saints, in even the common, temporal things, with which they are connected. “Holiness unto the Lord,” will be the inscription placed upon them.

We would do well to consider the case of Elisha when chosen for his work. The prophet Elijah was about to close his earthly labors. Another was to be called to carry forward the work for that time. In his course of travel, Elijah was directed northward. How changed the scene before him now from that which the country had presented a little while before. Then the farming districts were unworked; the ground was parched; for neither dew nor rain had fallen for three years. Now everything seems to be springing up as if to redeem the time of famine and dearth. The plenteous rains had done more for the earth than for the hearts of humanity; the fields were better prepared for labor than were the hearts of apostate Israel.

Wherever Elijah looked, the land he saw was owned by one man,—a man who had not bowed the knee to Baal, whose heart had remained undivided in the service of God. Even during the captivity there were souls who had not gone into apostasy, and this family was included in the seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal. The owner of the land was Shaphat. Busy activity was seen among the workers. While the flocks were enjoying the green pastures, the busy hands of his servants were sowing the seed for a harvest.

The attention of Elijah was attracted to Elisha, the son of Shaphat, who with the servants was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen. He was educator, director, and worker. Elisha did not live in the thickly populated cities. His father was a tiller of the soil, a farmer. Far from city and court dissipation, Elisha had received his education. He had been trained in habits of simplicity, of obedience to his parents and to God. Thus in quietude and contentment he was prepared to do the humble work of cultivating the soil. But though of a meek and quiet spirit, Elisha had no changeable character. Integrity and fidelity and the love and fear of God were his. He had the characteristics of a ruler, but with it all was the meekness of one who would serve. His mind had been exercised in the little things, to be faithful in whatsoever he should do; so that if God should call him to act more directly for him, he would be prepared to hear his voice.

The surroundings of Elisha's home were those of wealth; but he realized that in order to obtain an all-round education, he must be a constant worker in any work that needed to be done. He had not consented to be in any respect less informed than his father's servants. He had learned how to serve first, that he might know how to lead, instruct, and command.

Elisha waited contentedly, doing his work with fidelity. Day by day, through practical obedience and the divine grace in which he trusted, he obtained rectitude and strength of purpose. While doing all that he possibly could in co-operating with his father in the home firm, he was doing God's service. He was learning how to co-operate with God.

The youth should bear in mind that their physical strength, their mental qualifications, and their spiritual endowments, are to be devoted to service. These are never to be misapplied, never misused, never left to rust through inaction. Elisha increased in knowledge daily. Daily he prepared to do service in any way that opened before him. He served God in the little temporal duties. He grew in knowledge and in grace. And if the student today will develop reliability and soundness of principle in the things which are least, he will reveal that he has acquired adaptability to serve God in a higher capacity. He who feels that it is of no great consequence to serve in the lesser capacity will never be trusted of God to serve in the more honored position. He may present himself as fully competent to accomplish the duties of the higher position; but God looks deeper than the surface. A watcher is on his track, and after test and trial, there is written against him, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” That sentence in the courts of heaven decides for eternity the destiny of the human being.

Mrs. E. G. White

(To be continued.)

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