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Manuscript Releases, vol. 21 [Nos. 1501-1598]

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    MR No. 1520—Ministers to Proclaim the Word; Avoid the Appearance of Evil

    (Written September, 1902, from Los Angeles, California, to A. T. Jones. Portions of this manuscript appear in Evangelism and in various Manuscript Releases.)

    The Lord has presented your case before me several times, and I have written out the instruction given me for you, but I cannot now find it among my writings. Since coming here I have once more been given a presentation of your case. Your work has been represented to me in figures. You were passing round to a company a vessel filled with most beautiful fruit. But as you offered them this fruit you spoke words so harsh, and your attitude was so forbidding, that no one would accept it. Then another came to the same company, and offered them the same fruit. And so courteous and pleasant were His words and manner as He spoke of the desirability of the fruit, that the vessel was emptied. The words were spoken, “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” [Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 23; Psalm 25:4-10, quoted.]21MR 95.1

    These scriptures I have been directed to write to you. It is the spirit revealed in these words that you are to bring into your work. In the past you have presented the truth in a fierce way, using it as if it were a scourge. This has not glorified the Lord. You have given the people the rich treasures of God's Word, but your manner has been so condemnatory that they have turned from them. You have not taught the truth in the way that Christ taught it. You present it in a way that mars its influence. Unless you are converted, do not stand before the people with the truth. You are not blessed yourself in the belief of the truth, and you present the rich fruit from God's Word to the people in a very objectionable way. Your heart needs to be filled with the converting grace of Christ.21MR 95.2

    It is the Lord's will that for the coming year you shall labor in California, but there will be a trial before us. Unless you learn your lesson, so that you will heed the words of Christ, you will not be able to change the atmosphere that prevails in this conference.21MR 95.3

    You have not been as careful as you might in your teachings in regard to church government. You must be more guarded, to save the church from serious difficulties. But the Lord would have you serve another year in this conference, that your efforts may not be recorded as a failure, as they would be were you to leave your position now. May the Lord help you to have a converted tongue and a converted heart.21MR 95.4

    If you are made president of a conference, you must not mistake your work. You do not altogether comprehend what is included in the work of the president of a conference. You seek to embrace too much. You must not think that your position gives you liberty to rule over God's heritage. When you attempt to rule, your labors are a positive injury.21MR 96.1

    In dealing with the Lord's people, bring gentleness and tenderness and grace into your voice and your words. You need to change in this respect. You need to learn how to deal with minds. Guard yourself against being rash and impulsive and speaking harshly. You need to consider that the effect of your harsh words is deleterious to your own soul and to the souls of those to whom you speak. Do not accept the position of president of the conference unless your spirit is softened and subdued by genuine conversion, for otherwise you cannot fill the position acceptably. You need to become as a little child in meekness and lowliness.21MR 96.2

    Let not your manner be harsh and domineering, like that of a schoolmaster who rules his pupils in a way that arouses the worst passions of the heart. Do not create bitterness and strife, for others will follow your example. This makes the truth distasteful, in the place of leading people to desire it.21MR 96.3

    Recently I was talking with a young man who is departing from right paths. He makes the course pursued by yourself, when he was at Healdsburg years ago, an excuse for his defects. He spoke of the attention that you paid to young women, and to one in particular, and said, “His example is much worse than any example I have set.” That transaction was opened before me, and it is not strange to me that your wife wears so sad a countenance.21MR 96.4

    The attention that you have recently been paying to a married woman is not wise. It is not prompted by the Spirit of God. As the president of the conference, you must guard your reputation. You are to be an example of consistency.21MR 96.5

    If any woman, no matter who, casts herself upon your sympathy, are you to take her up, and encourage her, and receive letters from her, and feel a special responsibility to help her? My brother, you should change your course with regard to such matters, and set a right example before your brother-ministers. Keep your sympathy for the members of your own family, who need all that you can give them.21MR 96.6

    When a woman is in trouble, let her take her trouble to women. If this woman who has come to you has cause of complaint against her husband, she should take her trouble to some other who can, if necessary, talk with you in regard to it, without any appearance of evil.21MR 96.7

    You do not seem to realize that your course in this matter is exerting a wrong influence. Be guarded in your words and actions. Do not speak and act hastily and impulsively. This hurts your influence. You need to give yourself more decidedly to prayer and to receiving the answers to your prayers. The result will be a more consistent life.21MR 97.1

    The sixth chapter of Acts means much to you and to all who preach the word of God. Read this chapter, and take in its meaning. “It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables,” the twelve apostles declared.21MR 97.2

    “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” And the saying pleased the people, and they chose Stephen and six others to minister to the widows and fatherless and the others who needed help. “And when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”21MR 97.3

    It is time, my dear brother, that you looked at these matters in a right light. You have been called away from the word of God to serve tables. You think, because you are president of the conference, that your duties embrace many things, yea, almost everything. But you neglect things that ought to be done, and take up matters that do not need your personal attention. You think that because you are president you are the only one who is qualified to do certain things. But instead, the fact that you are president is the very reason that you should not do these things. You should hold yourself sacredly aloof from every appearance of evil. You should not make one movement that will give the people cause to speak unfavorably of you.21MR 97.4

    There are women who fasten themselves to someone to whom they tell their home difficulties. But there are two sides to every question, and often these women are themselves in need of reproof. They speak only of their side of the question, and words of sympathy that they do not deserve are given to them.21MR 97.5

    You are not to set such an example that women will feel at liberty to tell you the grievances of their home life, and to draw upon your sympathies. When a woman comes to you with her troubles, tell her plainly to go to her sisters, to tell her troubles to the deaconesses of the church. Tell her that she is out of place in opening her troubles to any man, for men are easily beguiled and tempted. Tell the one who has thrown her case upon you that God has not placed this burden upon any man. You are not wise to take these burdens upon yourself. It is not your appointed work.21MR 97.6

    I write you thus plainly because you are in danger of following such a course that your good will be evil spoken of. If these things had not been presented to me, and urged upon me, I would not express myself so plainly.21MR 98.1

    Treat your wife tenderly. She needs all the care and comfort and encouragement that you promised in your marriage vow to give her. Do not give her the slightest occasion to question your loyalty or your sincere desire to fulfill your obligations to her and to your children.21MR 98.2

    Writing to Timothy, Paul says, “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”21MR 98.3

    Study this instruction, and bring it into your daily experience.21MR 98.4

    Paul continues: “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”21MR 98.5

    “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” [Ephesians 4:1, 2]. This is a love that proceeds not from human impulses, but from Christ Jesus.21MR 98.6

    God has given His people a message to proclaim. Let them not hedge up one another's way. They are to labor in perfect harmony. [Ephesians 4:11-16, quoted.]21MR 98.7

    Christ did not confine His labors to any special time or place. Often He taught in the outer court of the temple, that the Gentiles might hear Him. He entered the temple as a place that was His own, unawed by its splendor. In this temple, soon to be the tomb of a departed dispensation, He must proclaim the truth. He was the foundation of the Jewish economy. It was to Him that the sacrifices and offerings pointed. Soon the need for these sacrifices was to cease, for in His death type was to meet antitype.21MR 98.8

    Christ is the Good Shepherd, with earnest, unwearied steps seeking for the lost sheep. He attended the great yearly festivals of the nation, and to the multitudes, absorbed in outward ceremony, He spoke of heavenly things, bringing eternity within their view. He gained the attention of high and low, rich and poor. To all He brought treasures from the storehouse of wisdom. He delighted and comforted the poor and lowly with the assurance of God's love for them. He spoke to them in language so simple that they could not fail to understand, and His words lifted their minds to the heavenly Father, full of grace and tenderness.21MR 99.1

    By methods peculiarly His own Christ helped all who were in sorrow and affliction. With tender, courteous grace He ministered to the sinsick soul, bringing healing and strength. The simplicity and earnestness with which He addressed those in need hallowed every word.21MR 99.2

    Christ proclaimed His message from the mountainside, from the fisherman's boat, in the desert, in the great thoroughfares of travel. He was ready to take up His work at any time and in any place. He was a consecrated evangelist. Wherever He found those willing to listen, He was ready to open to them the treasure-house of truth. He is our example. His followers are to be ever on the watch for opportunities to speak words in season. And they are to speak with the same loving sympathy that He spoke.21MR 99.3

    Christ was always ready to answer the sincere inquirer after truth. When His disciples came to Him for an explanation of some word He had spoken to the multitude, He gladly repeated His lesson. They grieved Him by contending for the supremacy. But instead of giving them a harsh rebuke, He took a little child, and setting him in the midst of them, He said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 18:3, 4].21MR 99.4

    My brother, I have an intense desire that you shall be a man after God's heart. You must make a change in your life. You have most precious truth to present, but you must put on the gospel shoes—your feet must be “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Your manner of addressing people is not always pleasing to God.21MR 99.5

    You need to feel His converting power upon your soul every day. You are full of physical strength and energy, and you need much of the grace of Christ, that it may be said of you as it was of Him, “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” When the Holy Spirit takes possession of your mind and controls your strong feelings, you will be more Christlike.—Letter 164, 1902.21MR 100.1

    Ellen G. White Estate

    Silver Spring, Maryland,

    September 13, 1990.

    Entire Letter.