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    March 19, 1885

    “Service of Self” The Signs of the Times 11, 12, pp. 185, 186.

    IN Paul’s catalogue of the sins that are characteristic of the last days, in the church as well as in the world, selfishness stands at the head. “Men shall be lovers of their own selves.” 2 Timothy 3:2. From this root spring all the branches that the apostle has named; and if we kill the root the branches will die of themselves. Our eyes and our endeavors should ever be upon this; because it is so insidious, so deceitful, that many acts, even of our own, which we think are acceptable service to the Lord, are not so in fact, but are service of ourselves—selfishness. We need, therefore, to constantly examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) by the strictest possible tests, that we may discover the real motive of our actions. There is not an act that we can commit, but what may spring from selfishness, whereas all ought to spring from benevolence; and we need to know as nearly as possible for ourselves, whether we are really serving the Lord or serving ourselves.SITI March 19, 1885, page 185.1

    Here is one who gets up Sabbath morning, some one asks him, Are you going to church to-day? No, I think I will not go to-day; there is not going to be any preaching. If there was to be preaching I would go. So when the preacher comes round he goes, and probably thinks he is serving the Lord. But he is serving himself; he is actuated by sheer selfishness. Is your wish to glorify God? is it to do your part in encouraging and edifying the church? You can do it as well on the Sabbath when there is no preaching at your church as when there is. It is your duty to go to the place of meeting on the Sabbath, and if your wish is to serve God, you will never ask yourself whether there is to be preaching or not.SITI March 19, 1885, page 185.2

    Again, very often when the time comes to go to prayer and social meeting, perhaps we don’t feel like going; we think over it awhile and decide to not go, but knowing it is our duty to go and knowing that we are expected to be there, we feel uneasy at home and finally decide to go; not because we want to, not because we are glad to, but to relieve ourselves of uneasiness, and it is selfishness. Then when we reach the place of meeting it is the same process over again; we don’t feel like speaking or praying and so we wait and wait, the meeting is almost over, the time is nearly expired, we have neither prayed nor spoken; we know we ought to do one or the other, we know we are expected to do so, we know we do not and shall not feel easy unless we do; so, to relieve ourselves, we get up and say “I am glad to be here,” etc., with a mannere and in a tone in which there is no element of gladness, and all simply to relieve ourselves and which is therefore selfishness.SITI March 19, 1885, page 185.3

    Once more, there are those who will do no missionary work till near the close of the quarter, and there is only a short time till they will have to make a report, and they have done nothing which they can report, so they will take up a few tracts or papers, and rustle round and distribute them somewhere, not with any particular consideration of the precious truth which they are handling, not with any burden for souls for whom Christ died, but primarily, if not solely, to have something to report, to satisfy, and relieve themselves, and which therefore is selfishness. And so we might, and in fact so we need, to trace to its source every act of our lives, and see for ourselves whether we are serving God, or serving ourselves. By so doing we shall develop and cultivate benevolence, cheerful well-doing and willing service in the cause of our Master.SITI March 19, 1885, page 185.4

    The Scripture sets before us the one single motive that must actuate all our service. That motive is, love for Christ. Any other motive, any other inducement, whatever it may be, is too low. We must keep ourselves reined up to this supreme incentive. Christ himself set it before us in his own words. In his twice repeated question to Peter, “Lovest thou me?” he gives us the supreme rule by which to detect the motive by which we are actuated. The true intent of this passage (John 21:15-17) has been too often lost by passing it by as simply intended to recall to Peter’s mind, in a delicate way, his triple denial of the Lord. We do not deny that such impression was conveyed to Peter, but we regard it as equally undeniable that there is in it a deeper meaning than that,—even this, that to Peter, and to all others, before they enter upon any service of the Lord, he asks the searching question twice repeated, “Lovest thou me?” And when we can answer that question in the affirmative, as did Peter, then, and not till then, are we prepared to do anything in the name of Him “who hath loved us and hath washed us from our sins in His own blood.”SITI March 19, 1885, page 185.5

    Then when Sabbath comes the question will not be, Shall I go to church to-day? but it will be “Lovest thou me?” and all will be decided at once. When the occasion of the prayer and social meeting comes, there will be no question about whether we shall go, or whether we shall take part when we do go, but “Lovest thou me?” will decide it all. In doing missionary work of whatever kind, “Lovest thou me?” will settle the matter of reporting, long before the end of the quarter. That all-important question repeated o’er and o’er, and answered o’er and o’er, will rid the heart and mind of all selfish- ness, and plant, and cause to grow, the beautiful tree of benevolence, bearing abundantly its sweet fruit, joy, gladness, willingness, readymindedness, and cheerfulness, in all the service of the Lord, and God will be glorified in his saints. “More love to thee, O Christ! more love to thee.”SITI March 19, 1885, page 185.6

    A. T. JONES.

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