Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

April 21, 1898

The Little Things—No. 2

When the prophet saw Elisha with his servants plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, he came to the field of labor, and while passing by, he unfastened his mantle, and threw it upon the shoulders of Elisha. He then passed on as if that were the end of the matter. But he knew that Elisha understood the significance of the action; and he left him, without speaking a word, to decide whether he would accept or reject the call.

During the three years and a half of barrenness and famine, the family of Shaphat had become familiar with the mission of Elijah the prophet; and the Spirit of God impressed the heart of Elisha in regard to the meaning of this action. This was the signal that God had called him to be the successor of Elijah. He hastened after the prophet, and overtaking him, asked permission to take leave of his parents and bid farewell to his family.

The answer of Elijah was, “Go back again: for what have I done to thee?” This was not a repulse, but a test. If Elisha's heart clung to his home and its advantages, he was at liberty to remain there. But Elisha was prepared to hear the call of God. He had not been disorderly, running before the call had come; and when he was called, he showed that he would not hesitate nor draw back.

Had Elisha asked Elijah what was expected of him, what would be his work, he would have been answered, God knows; he will make it known to you. If you wait upon the Lord, he will answer your every question. You may come with me if you have evidence that God has called you; if not, forbear. Come not simply because I have called you. Know for yourself that God stands back of you, and that it is his voice you hear. If you can count everything but dross that you may win Christ, come.

In genuine faith there is a buoyancy, a steadfast principle, which neither time nor toil can weaken. “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

The call of Elijah was similar to the commission of Christ to the young ruler. The ruler was commanded to leave all,—houses, lands, friends, riches, comforts, and ease,—and follow Jesus. How many have had and will have such tests! But with the call of Christ comes the question, Are we ready to advance? Are we willing? Shall we, like Moses, cheerfully deem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt?

The Lord will not accept half-hearted service. Those alone who love to do the will of God can do perfect service. Let not the heart that hears the gracious invitation of mercy, “Come; for all things are now ready,” still question as to the outcome of the matter, saying, How much will I have to yield up? You are to have no arguments on this point. If we follow on to know the Lord, willingly, gladly, we shall know that “his going forth is prepared as the morning.” If we have decided to obey Christ, we shall respond to his call, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

Any work, however small it may appear, that is done for the Master with a thorough surrender of self, is as acceptable to him as the highest service. “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”

Humble, willing service is before every one who claims to be a child of God. To every one the Lord has given his work. There is to be earnest, faithful waiting for the message from God, calling to his service. In prospect of the solemn event of the advent of Christ, there is to be no idle waiting with nothing to do. God's children are to prepare others for that great event. There is waiting and watching to be done, but this is to be combined with working. This will develop a harmonious Christian character. This will make the Christian an all-round man, perfect in Christ Jesus, “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.”

The work of God is a perfect whole, because perfect in all its parts; and it is important that the worker for Christ shall take his Master with him in every department of labor. Whatever is done should be done with an exactness and despatch that will bear inspection. The heart should be in the work. Faithfulness in little things should characterize the life, true integrity should mark all the course of action. It is the conscientious attention to what the world calls little things that makes the great beauty and success of life. Little deeds of charity, little words of kindness, little acts of self-denial, a wise improvement of little opportunities, a diligent cultivation of little talents, make great men in God's sight. If these little things are faithfully attended to, if these graces are in you and abound, they will make you perfect in every good work.

Mrs. E. G. White

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