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Gospel Workers (1892/1893 ed.)

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    Methods of Labor

    All who labor in the cause of God in any capacity, should be whole-hearted in the work. There is a lesson for us in the experience of Gideon's army. Those whose hearts were in the work were so earnest that they would not stop to kneel by the brook to drink, but dipped up the water in their hands as they hurried on to the battle, and these are the ones whom God used; while those who made deliberate preparations to drink, and took their time for it, were sent back to their homes. The Lord God of Israel is watching every worker, to see whether he is in earnest, whether he carries upon his heart the burden of souls. God sees whether his servants touch these living interests with the ends of their fingers, or whether they grasp them with all their might. If all had the interest that Knox felt when he cried, “Give me Scotland, or I die!”—a wrestling with God that will not be denied,—the Lord would work with their efforts, and would give them souls for their hire. They would not be lifted up because of their success, nor would they for a moment fear that some one else would receive the credit due to them; but they would be so grateful to God for the souls saved that his praise would be in their hearts and on their lips day and night. It is such workers that God will make mighty in his cause.GW92 297.1

    We are altogether too faithless, and too narrow in our views. Gideon's army prevailed, not because of their numbers, but because in living faith they followed the special directions of God. If we make narrow plans, we shall see very little accomplished.GW92 297.2

    Many efforts, though made at great expense, have been in a large measure unsuccessful because they did not meet the wants of the time or the place. For years we have sought to impress upon our people the necessity of working more intelligently. God would have us realize constantly that those around us are the purchase of the blood of Christ, and that it depends very much upon our deportment and manner of labor whether these souls are saved or lost.GW92 297.3

    Many of our ministers will have to be sharpened and polished before they can explain the Scriptures acceptably before those who are educated. The mind will reveal its own deficiencies. But if it is accustomed to dig for the truth as for hid treasures, it will soon become a treasure-house of knowledge; and more than this, the very diligence of the laborer in searching the Scriptures will develop his mind proportionately in the understanding of the word.GW92 298.1

    While we are to preach the gospel to the poor and unlearned, we should not neglect to present it, in its most attractive light, to those who have ability and talent. But in order to do this, our workers must be men of intelligence. They cannot sink down to a low level, feeling that it does not matter much how they labor, or what they say. We must cherish living faith, and the Spirit of Christ must be in us, to direct our labors. Then our efforts will meet the mind of God. It is because of lack of faith and real courage in the Lord that greater efforts for the more intelligent classes have not been made before. It is not the most wealthy that I refer to; too often they have made this world their god, and it is very difficult for them to see the force of truths that would separate them from the world. Nevertheless, there are men of wealth who will accept the last message, if the right kind of labor is put forth. The Lord has made men his stewards, and has intrusted to them the means to carry forward his work. When the poor have done all they can to advance the cause, the Lord will bring in men of means to carry on the work.GW92 298.2

    It should ever be manifest that we are reformers, but not bigots. When our laborers enter a new field, they should seek to become acquainted with the pastors of the several churches in the place. Much has been lost by neglecting to do this. If our ministers show themselves friendly and sociable, and do not act as though they were ashamed of the message they bear, it will have an excellent effect, and may give these pastors and their congregations favorable impressions of the truth. At any rate, it is right to give them a chance to be kind and favorable if they will. Our laborers should be very careful not to give the impression that they are wolves stealing in to get the sheep, but should let the ministers understand their position and the object of their mission,—to call the attention of the people to the precious truths of God's word. There are many of these which are dear to all Christians. Here is common ground, upon which we can meet people of other denominations; and in becoming acquainted with them, we should dwell mostly upon topics in which all feel an interest, and which will not lead directly and pointedly to the subjects of disagreement.GW92 299.1

    On entering a new place to labor, we should be careful not to create prejudice in the minds of the Catholics, or do anything to lead them to think us their enemies. The Lord has shown to me that there are many among them who will be saved. God will just as surely test this people as he is testing us; and according to their willingness to accept the light he gives them, will be their standing before him. We should sow the seed beside all waters; for it is God that gives the increase.—MS.GW92 299.2

    *****

    The apostle Paul, in describing his manner of labor, says: “Though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” [1 Corinthians 9:19-22.]GW92 299.3

    Paul did not approach the Jews in a way to excite their prejudices. He did not run the risk of making them his enemies by telling them the first thing that they must believe on Jesus of Nazareth; but he dwelt on the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament Scriptures, which testify of the Messiah, of his mission and his work. He led them on step by step, showing them the importance of honoring the law of God. He also gave due honor to the ceremonial law, showing that Christ was the one who instituted the whole system of sacrificial service. After dwelling upon these things, evincing that he had a clear understanding of them himself, he brought his hearers down to the first advent of Christ, and proved that in the crucified Jesus the specifications of the ceremonial law had been fulfilled. He showed them plainly how the light from the cross of Calvary gave significance and glory to the whole Jewish economy. He approached the Gentiles, not by exalting the law at first, but by exalting Christ, and then showing the binding claims of the law. Thus he varied his manner of labor, always shaping his message to the circumstances under which he was placed; and yet, though after patient labor he was successful to a large degree, many would not be convinced. There are some who will not be convinced by any method of presenting the special truths for this time. The laborer for God should, nevertheless, study carefully the best methods, in order that he may not needlessly arouse prejudice or stir up combativeness in his hearers.GW92 300.1

    Christ said to his disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” [John 16:12.] As the result of their early education, their ideas upon many points were incorrect, and they were not then prepared to understand and receive some things which he would otherwise have taught them. His instructions would have confused their minds, and raised questioning and unbelief that would have been difficult to remove.GW92 301.1

    Christ drew the hearts of his hearers to him by the manifestation of his love, and then, little by little, as they were able to bear it, he unfolded to them the great truths of the kingdom. We also must learn to adapt our labors to the condition of the people,—to meet men where they are. While the claims of the law of God are to be presented to the world, we should never forget that love—the love of Christ—is the only power that can soften the heart, and lead to obedience. All the great truths of the Scriptures center in Christ; rightly understood, all lead to him. Let Christ be presented as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, of the great plan of redemption. Present to the people such subjects as will strengthen their confidence in God and in his word, and lead them to investigate its teachings for themselves. And as they go forward, step by step, in the study of the Bible, they will be better prepared to appreciate the beauty and harmony of its precious truths.GW92 301.2

    God's workmen must have breadth of character. They must not be men of one idea, stereotyped in their manner of working. They must be able to vary their efforts, to meet the needs of the people under different circumstances and conditions. God would have his servants, old and young, continually improving, learning better how to minister to the wants of all. They should not settle down contented, thinking that their ways are perfect, and that others must work just as they do.GW92 301.3

    Those who are appointed to open the work in new fields should be careful that their defects are not exalted as virtues, thus retarding the work of God. It is testing truths that we are bringing before the people, and in every effort these truths should be presented in their real beauty. The laborer should not throw about the truth the peculiarities of his own character, or manner. Keep self in the background; let it be lost sight of in Jesus. Let the work of God bear the impress of the divine.GW92 302.1

    Much has been lost by our people through the following such narrow plans that the most intelligent, better-educated classes are not reached. Too often the work has been so conducted as to impress unbelievers that it is of very little consequence,—some stray off-shoot of religious enthusiasm, entirely beneath their notice. Much has been lost for want of wise methods of labor. Every effort should be made to give character and dignity to the work. It requires much wisdom to reach ministers and men of influence. But why should they be neglected as they have been by our people? These men are responsible to God just in proportion to the talents intrusted to them. Where much is given, much will be required. Should there not be deeper study and much more prayer for wisdom, that we may learn how to reach these classes? Should not wisdom and tact be used to gain these souls, who, if truly converted, will be polished instruments in the hands of God to reach others?GW92 302.2

    We would not be actuated by mere worldly policy; but from love to God, and to souls for whom Christ died, we should seek to reach those who in their turn will labor for others. If we can win to Christ and the truth souls to whom God has intrusted large capabilities, our influence will through them be constantly extending, and will become a far-reaching power for good.GW92 302.3

    God has a work to be done which the workers have not yet fully comprehended. Ministers and the world's wise men are to be tested by the light of present truth. The third angel's message is to be set before them judiciously, in its true dignity. There must be most earnest seeking of God, most thorough study; for the mental powers will be taxed to the utmost in laying plans which will place the work of God on a more elevated platform. That is where it should always have stood, but men's narrow ideas and restricted plans have limited and lowered it.GW92 303.1

    After most earnest effort has been made to bring the truth before those whom God has intrusted with large responsibilities, be not discouraged if they reject it. Truth was rejected in the days of Christ.GW92 303.2

    When the importance of laboring to reach the higher classes is urged, let none receive the idea that the poor and unlearned are to be neglected. Right methods of labor will not in any sense exclude these. It was one of the evidences of Christ's Messiahship that the poor had the gospel preached to them. We should study to give all classes an opportunity to understand the special truths for this time. When our labors are so conducted as to reach only the lower classes, we may fail in benefiting even these. They may be brought to see the truth, but they are, as it were, in the bondage of poverty, and can see before them only starvation should they accept the truth. If our efforts are so conducted as to include the upper classes, we shall be more successful in reaching the lower also.GW92 303.3

    Be sure to maintain the dignity of the work by a well-ordered life and godly conversation. Never be afraid of raising your standard too high. The families who engage in the missionary work should come close to hearts. The spirit of Jesus should pervade the soul of the worker; it is the pleasant, sympathetic words, the manifestation of disinterested love for their souls, that will break down the barriers of pride and selfishness, and show to unbelievers that we have the love of Christ, and then the truth will find its way to the heart. This is our work, and the fulfilling of God's plan. All coarseness and roughness must be put away from us. Courtesy, refinement, Christian politeness, must be cherished. Guard against being abrupt and blunt. Do not regard such peculiarities as virtues, for God does not so regard them. Endeavor not to offend any unnecessarily.GW92 303.4

    There is great danger that young men who are associated with older workers in the cause, will copy even the defects of the older ministers. This should be guarded against by both old and young. All should seek to have the softening, subduing influence of the Spirit of God, Christlike tenderness, and love for souls. Those who are sent out to labor together, should put self away, lay aside their own peculiarities, and seek to unite, heart and soul, in carrying out God's will. In order to work to advantage, they must work in harmony.GW92 304.1

    We want more, much more, of the spirit of Christ, and less, much less, of self and the peculiarities of character which keep us apart from our fellow-men. We can do much to break down these barriers by revealing the grace of Christ in our own lives. Jesus has intrusted his goods to the church, age after age. One generation after another for over eighteen hundred years has been gathering up this hereditary trust, until the increasing responsibilities have descended to the people of our time. Do we now realize our responsibility? Do we feel that we are stewards of God's grace? Do we believe that the lowest, humblest service will be accepted, if it is only directed to doing, not our own, but our Master's will, to promote his glory? We must be clothed, not with our own garments, but with the robe of Christ's righteousness.—MS. [From a Letter to the Workers in a Foreign Mission.]GW92 304.2

    When laborers are associated together who decidedly vary, both in natural disposition and character, and in their manner of labor, each will need to keep a careful watch over his own strong traits of character, and to exercise the meekness of Christ, or he will be in danger of drawing apart from the others. Such a separation would retard the work and dishonor God. Brethren, you should make no move independently or in opposition to one another. Pray together; counsel together in humility, willing to be instructed. This will bring you where God will be your counselor. By indulging a stubborn, self-confident spirit, workers can easily place themselves where divine wisdom and power cannot aid them in their labors, where they cannot have help in counsel, in difficulties, and trials.GW92 305.1

    As laborers together with God, you should come close to one another. Precious lessons of love, confidence, respect for one another, must be given, both in and out of the desk. You must live that which you teach. Remember that the new converts look to you for an example.GW92 305.2

    Some for whom you labor will wish to have the work done in their own way, thinking that their way is best; but if you have the spirit, the meekness of Christ, if you show respect and love for one another, God will enable you to perfect the work in a manner that will please him. Work for your own souls until self is subdued, until Christ recognizes his image in you. The most impressive lesson that you can give to those whom you educate, will be that of a Christ-like character.GW92 305.3

    In foreign fields especially, the work cannot be accomplished, except by well-considered plans. While you should endeavor to labor in harmony with the instructions of those at the head of the work, many unforeseen circumstances will arise for which they could make no provision. There must be something ventured, some risks run, by those on the field of battle. There will be crises in which prompt action is necessary. The workers should not in every movement feel that they should wait to receive directions from head-quarters, but after counseling together, with earnest prayer, they should do the best they can under the circumstances. Wherever in the work of reform we can unite with others, in the countries to which we go, it is advisable to do this; but there are some things we shall have to carry forward by ourselves. While we should adapt ourselves to others wherever this is practicable and consistent, there are many things in which the laborers must work in their own way. Hence the greater necessity for union among themselves.GW92 305.4

    When missions are opened in foreign fields, it is of especial importance that the work be started right. The laborers should be careful that they do not restrict it by narrow plans. While the state of the treasury demands that economy should be exercised, there is danger of an economy which results in loss rather than gain. This has actually been the case in some of our missions, where the workers have bent their powers almost wholly to planning how to get along in the least expensive manner. With different management, far more might have been accomplished; and on the whole less means would have been taken from the treasury.GW92 306.1

    In new fields our growth has been slow, because the special truths which we present are not popular with the world. The observance of the seventh-day Sabbath is a heavy cross for every one who accepts the truth. Many who can see that our doctrines are sustained by the Scriptures, shrink from accepting them, because they do not wish to be peculiar, or because by obedience to the truth they would be cut off from their means of support. Because of these things much wisdom is needed in planning how to bring the truth before the people. In some places the work must begin in a small way, and advance slowly. This is all that the laborers can do. But in many cases a wider and more decided effort might be made at the outset, with good results. The work in England might now be much farther advanced than it is if our brethren, at the beginning of the work there, had not tried to work in so cheap a way. If they had hired good halls, and carried forward the work as though we had great truths, which would surely be victorious, they would have had greater success. God would have the work started in such a way that the first impressions given shall be, as far as they go, the very best that can be made.GW92 306.2

    Be careful to maintain the elevated character of the missionary work. Let all, both men and women connected with the missions, be constantly inquiring, “What am I? and what ought I to be and to do?” Let all consider that they cannot give to others what they do not possess themselves; therefore they should not settle down content with their natural ways and habits, seeking to make no change for the better. Paul says he had not attained, but, “I press toward the mark.” [Philippians 3:14.] There must be constant reformation, unceasing advancement, if we would perfect a symmetrical character.GW92 307.1

    There are none of our workers whose manners and habits do not need much improvement; and unless this is made, unless the workers are constantly seeking for higher attainments, they will greatly hinder one another in the work. Changes will be constantly occurring, new duties will arise, new fields of labor will open, and united, thoroughly organized effort alone can bring success.GW92 307.2

    In our work heretofore there has been too much of a disposition to put the light under a bushel, or under a bed, rather than on a candlestick, where it might give light to all that are in the house. Let no especial effort be made to exalt the men, but seek to magnify the work. Bring your minds up to appreciate its greatness. Let not your own narrow plans and limited ideas be allowed to shape your methods of working in God's cause.GW92 307.3

    Do not show a spirit of littleness in deal. If one stops to haggle over a small sum, those with whom he deals will pronounce him a sharper, and will be on their guard, thinking that he means to cheat them. But if a trifle is yielded in favor of another, he will be likely to work on the same plan. Littleness begets littleness. Those who pursue this course do not see how contemptible it appears to others, and the precious cause of truth bears the stamp of their defect. We are not to imitate the world's manner of dealing, but to reveal the generous, unselfish spirit of Christ.GW92 308.1

    God gave the Israelites special directions concerning the arrangement of their camp, that all might be in perfect order. And everything connected with the tabernacle was designed to impress the people with the majesty and holiness of God, and the purity he requires of all who engage in his service. These arrangements were not merely for the benefit of Israel. God designed that the order and harmony, the exalted character of the Jewish economy, should make an impression upon surrounding nations, revealing to them something of the character of the true God, and what he desires his people to be. The same principles apply to the work at this time. Remember that with the world everything is judged by appearances. Study carefully the word of God, the instructions given to ancient Israel, and let all your arrangements be such as rightly to represent Him in whose cause you labor.—MS. [From a letter to the workers in a Foreign Mission.]GW92 308.2

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