Chapter 24 Part 1—Qualifications for Successful Christian Service
Listlessness and inefficiency are not piety. When we realize that we are working for God, we shall have a higher sense than we have ever had before of the sacredness of spiritual service. This realization will put life and vigilance and persevering energy into the discharge of every duty.—Testimonies for the Church 9:150.The time demands greater efficiency and deeper consecration. O, I am so full of this subject that I cry to God, “Raise up and send forth messengers filled with a sense of their responsibility, messengers in whose hearts self-idolatry, which lies at the foundation of all sin, has been crucified.”—Testimonies for the Church 9:27.The work committed to the disciples would require great efficiency; for the tide of evil ran deep and strong against them.—The Acts of the Apostles, 31.
The right culture and use of the power of speech has to do with every line of Christian work.... We should accustom ourselves to speak in pleasant tones, to use pure and correct language, and words that are kind and courteous.—Christ's Object Lessons, 336.Every minister and every teacher should bear in mind that he is giving to the people a message that involves eternal interests. The truth spoken will judge them in the great day of final reckoning. And with some souls the manner of the one delivering the message will determine its reception or rejection. Then let the word be so spoken that it will appeal to the understanding and impress the heart. Slowly, distinctly, and solemnly should it be spoken, yet with all the earnestness which its importance demands.—Christ's Object Lessons, 336.As you seek to draw others within the circle of His love, let the purity of your language, the unselfishness of your service, the joyfulness of your demeanor, bear witness to the power of His grace.—The Ministry of Healing, 156.Every Christian is called to make known to others the unsearchable riches of Christ; therefore he should seek for perfection in speech. He should present the word of God in a way that will commend it to the hearers. God does not design that His human channels shall be uncouth. It is not His will that man shall belittle or degrade the heavenly current that flows through him to the world.—Christ's Object Lessons, 336.They will be educated in patience, kindness, affability, and helpfulness. They will practice true Christian courtesy, bearing in mind that Christ, their companion, cannot approve of harsh, unkind words or feelings. Their words will be purified. The power of speech will be regarded as a precious talent, lent them to do a high and holy work.—Gospel Workers, 97.
Mental culture is what we, as a people, need and what we must have in order to meet the demands of the time.—Testimonies for the Church 4:414.We must not enter into the Lord's work haphazard, and expect success. The Lord needs men of mind, men of thought. Jesus calls for coworkers, not blunderers. God wants right-thinking and intelligent men to do the great work necessary to the salvation of souls.—Testimonies for the Church 4:67.Some need to discipline the mind by exercise. They should force it to think. While they depend upon some one to think for them, to solve their difficulties, and they refuse to tax the mind with thought, the inability to remember, to look ahead and discriminate, will continue. Efforts must be made by every individual to educate the mind.—Testimonies for the Church 2:188.God does not want us to be content with lazy, undisciplined minds, dull thoughts, and loose memories.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 506.Men of God must be diligent in study, earnest in the acquirement of knowledge, never wasting an hour. Through persevering exertion they may rise to almost any degree of eminence as Christians, as men of power and influence.—Testimonies for the Church 4:411.Only let the moments be treasured.... The time spent in traveling; ... the moments of waiting for meals, waiting for those who are tardy in keeping an appointment,—if a book were kept at hand, and these fragments of time were improved in study, reading, or careful thought, what might not be accomplished!—Christ's Object Lessons, 343, 344.A resolute purpose, persistent industry, and careful economy of time, will enable men to acquire knowledge and mental discipline which will qualify them for almost any position of influence and usefulness.—Christ's Object Lessons, 334.Men in responsible positions should improve continually. They must not anchor upon an old experience, and feel that it is not necessary to become scientific workers. Man, although the most helpless of God's creatures when he comes into the world, and the most perverse in his nature, is nevertheless capable of constant advancement. He may be enlightened by science, ennobled by virtue, and may progress in mental and moral dignity, until he reaches a perfection of intelligence and a purity of character but little lower than the perfection and purity of angels.—Testimonies for the Church 4:93.Those who would be workers together with God must strive for perfection of every organ of the body and quality of the mind. True education is the preparation of the physical, mental, and moral powers for the performance of every duty; it is the training of body, mind, and soul for divine service. This is the education that will endure unto eternal life.—Christ's Object Lessons, 330.Mechanics, lawyers, merchants, men of all trades and professions, educate themselves that they may become masters of their business. Should the followers of Christ be less intelligent, and while professedly engaged in His service, be ignorant of the ways and means to be employed? The enterprise of gaining everlasting life is above every earthly consideration. In order to lead souls to Jesus there must be a knowledge of human nature and a study of the human mind. Much careful thought and fervent prayer are required to know how to approach men and women upon the great subject of truth.—Testimonies for the Church 4:67.
Christian Dignity and Politeness
The lack of true dignity and Christian refinement in the ranks of Sabbathkeepers is against us as a people, and makes the truth which we profess unsavory. The work of educating the mind and manners may be carried forward to perfection. If those who profess the truth do not now improve their privileges and opportunities to grow up to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus, they will be no honor to the cause of truth, no honor to Christ.—Testimonies for the Church 4:358, 359.Be sure to maintain the dignity of the work by a well-ordered life and godly conversation. Never be afraid of raising the standard too high.... 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.—The Review and Herald, November 25, 1890.There is the greatest necessity that men and women who have a knowledge of the will of God, should learn to become successful workers in His cause. They should be persons of polish, of understanding, not having the deceptive outside gloss and simpering affectation of the worldling, but that refinement and true courteousness which savors of heaven, and which every Christian will have if he is a partaker of the divine nature.—Testimonies for the Church 4:358.We have the greatest truth and hope that were ever given to our world, and the greatest faith; and we want to represent this in its exalted character to the world. We do not want to assume the attitude as though we were passing through the world begging pardon of the world because we venture to believe this precious, sacred truth; but we want to walk humbly with God, and conduct ourselves as though we were children of the most high God, and, although feeble instruments, as though we were handling most important and interesting subjects, higher and more exalted than any temporal, worldly themes.—The Review and Herald, July 26, 1887.The laborer for souls needs consecration, integrity, intelligence, industry, energy, and tact. Possessing these qualifications, no man can be inferior; instead he will have a commanding influence for good.—Gospel Workers, 111.Men should be at work who are willing to be taught as to the best way of approaching individuals and families. Their dress should be neat, but not foppish, and their manners such as not to disgust the people. There is a great want of true politeness among us as a people. This should be cultivated by all who take hold of the missionary work.—Testimonies for the Church 4:391, 392.
There must be no pretense in the lives of those who have so sacred and solemn a message as we have been called to bear. The world is watching Seventh-day Adventists, because it knows something of their profession of faith, and of their high standard; and when it sees those who do not live up to their profession, it points at them with scorn.—Testimonies for the Church 9:23.Men may have excellent gifts, good ability, splendid, qualifications; but one defect, one secret sin indulged, will prove to the character what the worm-eaten plank does to the ship,—utter disaster and ruin!—Testimonies for the Church 4:90.Paul carried with him the atmosphere of heaven. All who associated with him felt the influence of his union with Christ. The fact that his own life exemplified the truth he proclaimed, gave convincing power to his preaching. Here lies the power of the truth. The unstudied, unconscious influence of a holy life is the most convincing sermon that can be given in favor of Christianity. Argument, even when unanswerable, may provoke only opposition; but a godly example has a power that it is impossible wholly to resist.—Gospel Workers, 59.True character is not shaped from without, and put on; it radiates from within. If we wish to direct others in the path of righteousness, the principles of righteousness must be enshrined in our own hearts. Our profession of faith may proclaim the theory of religion, but it is our practical piety that holds for the word of truth. The consistent life, the holy conversation, the unswerving integrity, the active, benevolent spirit, the godly example,—these are the mediums through which light is conveyed to the world.—The Desire of Ages, 307.Prayers exhortation, and talk are cheap fruits, which are frequently tied on; but fruits that are manifested in good works, in caring for the needy, the fatherless, and widows, are genuine fruits, and grow naturally upon a good tree.—Testimonies for the Church 2:24.
God does not generally work miracles to advance His truth. If the husbandman neglects to cultivate the soil, God works no miracle to counteract the sure results. He works according to great principles made known to us, and it is our part to mature wise plans, and set in operation the means whereby God shall bring about certain results. Those who make no decided effort, but simply wait for the Holy Spirit to compel them to action, will perish in darkness. You are not to sit still and do nothing in the work of God.—The Southern Watchman, December 1, 1903 (The Review and Herald, RH September 28, 1897).Some who engage in missionary service are weak, nerveless, spiritless, easily discouraged. They lack push. They have not those positive traits of character that give power to do something,—the spirit and energy that kindle enthusiasm. Those who would win success must be courageous and hopeful. They should cultivate not only the passive but the active virtues.—Gospel Workers, 290.The Lord is in need of workers who will push the triumphs of the cross of Christ.—The Review and Herald, May 6, 1890.Not with tame, lifeless utterance is the message to be given, but with clear, decided, stirring utterances.—Testimonies for the Church 8:16.It is not silver-tongued orators that are needed to give this message. The truth in all its pointed severity must be spoken. Men of action are needed,—men who will labor with earnest, ceaseless energy for the purifying of the church and the warning of the world.—Testimonies for the Church 5:187.God has no use for lazy men in His cause; He wants thoughtful, kind, affectionate, earnest workers.—Testimonies for the Church 4:411.
Those in the service of God must show animation and determination in the work of winning souls. Remember that there are those who will perish unless we as God's instrumentalities work with a determination that will not fail nor become discouraged.—Testimonies for the Church 6:418.He has given us a great work to do. Let us do it with accuracy and determination. Let us show in our lives what the truth has done for us.—Testimonies for the Church 6:418.
It is earnest Christian zeal that is wanted,—a zeal that will be manifested by doing something.... No more could a soul who possesses Christ be hindered from confessing Him, than could the waters of Niagara be stopped from flowing over the falls.—Testimonies for the Church 2:233.Every one who accepts Christ as his personal Saviour will long for the privilege of serving God. Contemplating what heaven has done for him, his heart is moved with boundless love and adoring gratitude. He is eager to signalize his gratitude by devoting his abilities to God's service. He longs to show his love for Christ and for His purchased possession. He covets toil, hardship, sacrifice.—The Ministry of Healing, 502.There is a wide field for the Marthas, with their zeal in active religious work. But let them first sit with Mary at the feet of Jesus. Let diligence, promptness, and energy be sanctified by the grace of Christ; then the life will be an unconquerable power for good.—The Desire of Ages, 525.In the name of the Lord, with the untiring perseverance and unflagging zeal that Christ brought into His labors, we are to carry forward the work of the Lord.—Testimonies for the Church 9:25.We need to break up the monotony of our religious labor. We are doing a work in the world, but we are not showing sufficient activity and zeal. If we were more in earnest, men would be convinced of the truth of our message. The tameness and monotony of our service for God repels many souls of a higher class, who need to see a deep, earnest, sanctified zeal.—Testimonies for the Church 6:417.
To be a coworker with Jesus, you should have all patience with those for whom you labor, not scorning the simplicity of the work, but looking to the blessed result. When those for whom you labor do not exactly meet your mind, you often say in your heart, “Let them go; they are not worth saving.” What if Christ had treated poor outcasts in a similar manner? He died to save miserable sinners, and if you work in the same spirit and in the same manner indicated by the example of Him whom you follow, leaving the results with God, you can never in this life measure the amount of good you have accomplished.—Testimonies for the Church 4:132.Work disinterestedly, lovingly, patiently, for all with whom you are brought into contact. Show no impatience. Utter not one unkind word. Let the love of Christ be in your hearts, the law of kindness on your lips.—Testimonies for the Church 9:41.
Those who surrender wholly to God will put thought and prayer and earnest, consecrated tact into their labors.—The Signs of the Times, May 29, 1893.If a man has tact, industry, and enthusiasm, he will make a success in temporal business, and the same qualities, consecrated to the work of God, will prove even doubly efficient; for divine power will be combined with human effort.—Testimonies for the Church 5:276.In the work of soul-winning, great tact and wisdom are needed. The Saviour never suppressed the truth, but He uttered it always in love. In His intercourse with others, He exercised the greatest tact, and He was always kind and thoughtful. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave unnecessary pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He fearlessly denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity, but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. He never made truth cruel, but ever manifested a deep tenderness for humanity. Every soul was precious in His sight. He bore Himself with divine dignity; yet He bowed with the tenderest compassion and regard to every member of the family of God. He saw in all, souls whom it was His mission to save.—Gospel Workers, 117.Some rash, impulsive, yet honest souls, after a pointed discourse has been given, will accost those who are not with us in a very abrupt manner, and make the truth, which we desire them to receive, repulsive to them. “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Business men and politicians study courtesy. It is their policy to make themselves as attractive as possible. They study to render their address and manners such that they may have the greatest influence over the minds of those about them. They use their knowledge and abilities as skillfully as possible in order to gain this object.—Testimonies for the Church 4:68.This message must be given, but while it must be given, we should be careful not to thrust and crowd and condemn those who have not the light that we have. We should not go out of our way to make hard thrusts at the Catholics. Among the Catholics there are many who are most conscientious Christians, and who walk in all the light that shines upon them, and God will work in their behalf.—Testimonies for the Church 9:243.
The true Christian works for God, not from impulse, but from principle; not for a day or a month, but during the entire life.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 518.The Saviour was an untiring worker. He did not measure His work by hours. His time, His heart, His strength, were given to labor for the benefit of humanity. Entire days were devoted to labor, and entire nights were spent in prayer, that He might be braced to meet the wily foe in all his deceptive working, and fortified to do His work of uplifting and restoring humanity. The man who loves God does not measure his work by the eight-hour system. He works at all hours, and is never off duty. As he has opportunity, he does good. Everywhere, at all times and in all places, he finds opportunity to work for God. He carries fragrance with him wherever he goes.—Testimonies for the Church 9:45.He who by an unguarded act exposes the cause of God to reproach, or weakens the hands of his fellow workers, brings upon his own character a stain not easily removed, and places a serious obstacle in the way of his future usefulness.—Prophets and Kings, 659.“Take My yoke upon you,” Jesus says. The yoke is an instrument of service. Cattle are yoked for labor, and the yoke is essential that they may labor effectually. By this illustration, Christ teaches us that we are called to service as long as life shall last. We are to take upon us His yoke, that we may be coworkers with Him.—The Desire of Ages, 329.
Sympathy and Sociability
In every department of the cause of God, there is need of men and women who have sympathy for the woes of humanity; but such sympathy is rare.—The Review and Herald, May 6, 1890.We need more of Christlike sympathy; not merely sympathy for those who appear to us to be faultless, but sympathy for poor, suffering, struggling souls, who are often overtaken in fault, sinning and repenting, tempted and discouraged. We are to go to our fellow men, touched, like our merciful High Priest, with the feeling of their infirmities.—Gospel Workers, 141.As a people we lose much by lack of sympathy and sociability with one another. He who talks of independence and shuts himself up to himself, is not filling the position that God designed he should. We are children of God, mutually dependent upon one another for happiness. The claims of God and of humanity are upon us. We must all act our part in this life. It is the proper cultivation of the social elements of our nature that brings us into sympathy with our brethren, and affords us happiness in our efforts to bless others.—Testimonies 4:71, 72.The Saviour was a guest at the feast of a Pharisee. He accepted invitations from the rich as well as the poor, and, according to His custom, He linked the scene before Him with His lessons of truth.—Christ's Object Lessons, 219.
When Christ said to the disciples, Go forth in My name to gather into the church all who believe, He plainly set before them the necessity of maintaining simplicity. The less ostentation and show, the greater would be their influence for good. The disciples were to speak with the same simplicity with which Christ had spoken.—The Acts of the Apostles, 28.Thousands can be reached in the most simple and humble way. The most intellectual, those who are looked upon as the world's most gifted men and women, are often refreshed by the simple words of one who loves God, and who can speak of that love as naturally as the worldling speaks of the things that interest him most deeply. Often the words well prepared and studied have but little influence. But the true, honest expression of a son or daughter of God, spoken in natural simplicity, has power to unbolt the door to hearts that have long been closed against Christ and His love.—Christ's Object Lessons, 232.
God's workers need faith in God. He is not unmindful of their labors. He values their work. Divine agencies are appointed to co-operate with those who are laborers together with God. When we think that God will not do as He has said, and that He has no time to notice His workers, we dishonor our Maker.—The Southern Watchman, August 2, 1904 (The Review and Herald, July 30, 1901).The worker for God needs strong faith. Appearances may seem forbidding; but in the darkest hour there is light beyond. The strength of those who, in faith, love and serve God, will be renewed day by day.—Gospel Workers, 262.There is in genuine faith a buoyancy, a steadfastness of principle, and a fixedness of purpose, that neither time nor toil can weaken.—Christ's Object Lessons, 147.Often the Christian life is beset by dangers, and duty seems hard to perform. The imagination pictures impending ruin before, and bondage or death behind. Yet the voice of God speaks clearly, “Go forward.” We should obey this command, even though our eyes cannot penetrate the darkness, and we feel the cold waves about our feet. The obstacles that hinder our progress will never disappear before a halting, doubting spirit. Those who defer obedience till every shadow of uncertainty disappears, and there remains no risk of failure or defeat, will never obey at all. Unbelief whispers, “Let us wait till the obstructions are removed, and we can see our way clearly;” but faith courageously urges an advance, hoping all things, believing all things.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 290.
A great work is to be accomplished; broader plans must be laid; a voice must go forth to arouse the nations. Men whose faith is weak and wavering are not the ones to carry forward the work at this important crisis. We need the courage of heroes and the faith of martyrs.—Testimonies for the Church 5:187.When in faith we take hold of His strength, He will change, wonderfully change, the most hopeless, discouraging outlook. He will do this for the glory of His name. God calls upon His faithful ones, who believe in Him, to talk courage to those who are unbelieving and hopeless. May the Lord help us to help one another, and to prove Him by living faith.—Testimonies for the Church 8:12.Hope and courage are essential to perfect service for God. These are the fruit of faith. Despondency is sinful and unreasonable.—Prophets and Kings, 164.Courage, energy, and perseverance they must possess. Though apparent impossibilities obstruct their way, by His grace they are to go forward. Instead of deploring difficulties, they are called upon to surmount them. They are to despair of nothing, and to hope for everything. With the golden chain of His matchless love, Christ had bound them to the throne of God. It is His purpose that the highest influence in the universe, emanating from the Source of all power, shall be theirs. They are to have power to resist evil, power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master, power that will enable them to overcome as Christ overcame.—Gospel Workers, 39.
True holiness is wholeness in the service of God. This is the condition of true Christian living. Christ asks for an unreserved consecration, for undivided service. He demands the heart, the mind, the soul, the strength. Self is not to be cherished. He who lives to himself is not a Christian.—Christ's Object Lessons, 48, 49.The first thing to be learned by all who would become workers together with God, is the lesson of self-distrust; then they are prepared to have imparted to them the character of Christ. This is not to be gained through education in the most scientific schools. It is the fruit of wisdom that is obtained from the divine Teacher alone.—The Desire of Ages, 249, 250.It is not a conclusive evidence that a man is a Christian because he manifests spiritual ecstasy under extraordinary circumstances. Holiness is not rapture: it is an entire surrender of the will to God; it is living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; it is doing the will of our heavenly Father; it is trusting God in trial, in darkness as well as in the light; it is walking by faith and not by sight; it is relying on God with unquestioning confidence, and resting in His love.—The Acts of the Apostles, 51.
God's people are to be distinguished as a people who serve Him fully, whole-heartedly, taking no honor to themselves, and remembering that by a most solemn covenant they have bound themselves to serve the Lord, and Him only.—Testimonies for the Church 9:17.It is whole-hearted, thoroughly decided men and women who will stand now. Christ sifted His followers again and again, until, at one time, there remained only eleven and a few faithful women, to lay the foundation of the Christian church. There are those who will stand back when burdens are to be borne, but when the church is all aglow, they catch the enthusiasm, sing and shout, and become rapturous; but watch them. When the fervor is gone, only a few faithful Calebs will come to the front and display unwavering principle. These are salt that retains the savor. It is when the work moves hard that the churches develop the true helpers.—Testimonies for the Church 5:130.No man can succeed in the service of God unless his whole heart is in the work, and he counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. No man who makes any reserve can be the disciple of Christ, much less can he be His colaborer.—The Desire of Ages, 273.They are not to engage in speculation, neither are they to enter into business enterprises with unbelievers; for this would hinder them in their God-given work.—Testimonies for the Church 9:19.The Redeemer will not accept divided service. Daily the worker for God must learn the meaning of self-surrender.—Gospel Workers, 113.
The Lord abhors indifference and disloyalty in a time of crisis in His work. The whole universe is watching with inexpressible interest the closing scenes of the great controversy between good and evil. The people of God are nearing the borders of the eternal world; what can be of more importance to them than that they be loyal to the God of heaven? All through the ages, God has had moral heroes; and He has them now,—those who, like Joseph and Elijah and Daniel, are not ashamed to acknowledge themselves His peculiar people. His special blessing accompanies the labors of men of action; men who will not be swerved from the straight line of duty, but who with divine energy will inquire, “Who is on the Lord's side?” men who will not stop merely with the inquiry, but who will demand that those who choose to identify themselves with the people of God shall step forward and reveal unmistakably their allegiance to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Such men make their wills and plans subordinate to the law of God. For love of Him, they count not their lives dear unto themselves. Their work is to catch the light from the Word, and let it shine forth to the world in clear, steady rays. Fidelity to God is their motto.—Prophets and Kings, 148.