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    The Graces of Culture and Kindness

    Our Great Example—Christ carried out in His life His own divine teachings. His zeal never led Him to become passionate. He manifested consistency without obstinacy, benevolence without weakness, tenderness and sympathy without sentimentalism. He was highly social; yet He possessed a reserved dignity that did not encourage undue familiarity. His temperance never led to bigotry or austerity. He was not conformed to this world; yet He was not indifferent to the wants of the least among men. He was awake to the needs of all.—Manuscript 132, 1902.Ev 636.1

    The Perfect Pattern—From earliest years to manhood, Christ lived a life that was a perfect pattern of humility and industry and obedience. He was always thoughtful and considerate of others, always self-denying. He came bearing the signature of heaven, not to be ministered unto, but to minister....Ev 636.2

    The unselfish life of Christ is an example to all. His character is a pattern of the characters we may form if we follow on in His footsteps.—Manuscript 108, 1903.Ev 636.3

    Dignity, Courtesy, Refinement—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. 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.—The Review and Herald, November 25, 1890.Ev 636.4

    Christ Our Exemplar of Etiquette—Real refinement of thought and manner is better learned in the school of the divine Teacher than by any observance of set rules. His love pervading the heart gives to the character those refining touches that fashion it in the semblance of His own. This education imparts a heaven-born dignity and sense of propriety. It gives a sweetness of disposition and a gentleness of manner that can never be equaled by the superficial polish of fashionable society.—Education, 241 (1903).Ev 637.1

    True Etiquette—Broad Sympathy and Kindness—Many who lay great stress upon etiquette show little respect for anything, however excellent, that fails of meeting their artificial standard. This is false education. It fosters critical pride and narrow exclusiveness.Ev 637.2

    The essence of true politeness is consideration for others. The essential, enduring education is that which broadens the sympathies and encourages universal kindness.—Education, 241 (1903).Ev 637.3

    Tenderness and Kindness—You both need a gentler touch. Your words are to soothe, not to harass. Let your hearts be filled with love for souls. With a deep, tender interest, work for those around you. If you see one making a mistake, go to him in the way Christ has pointed out in His Word, and see if you cannot talk the matter over with Christlike tenderness. Pray with him, and believe that the Saviour will show you the way out of the difficulty.Ev 637.4

    Ministers need much of the grace of God in order to do their work acceptably. When a minister finds the members of a church arrayed against one another, let him call a halt, and endeavor to bring about a harmonious understanding. Let him never give sharp, dictatorial advice or orders. This is not necessary. It is labor worse than wasted....Ev 638.1

    The Lord calls upon you to exert an uplifting influence. Receive into the heart the truths of God's Word. Only thus can you have the mind of God. Place yourselves under the molding influence of the Holy Spirit. Then you will have much greater power for good....Ev 638.2

    Wherever the love of Jesus reigns, there is peace and rest. Where this love is cherished, it is as a refreshing stream in a desert, transforming barrenness into fertility.—Manuscript 105, 1902.Ev 638.3

    Tact and Good Judgment Melt Hearts—Tact and good judgment increase the usefulness of the laborer a hundredfold. If he will speak the right words at the right time, and show the right spirit, this will exert a melting power on the heart of the one he is trying to help. Gospel Workers, 119 (1915).Ev 638.4

    Kindness to Those Who Differ in Doctrine—Those who differ with us in faith and doctrine should be treated kindly. They are the property of Christ, and we must meet them in the great day of final account. We shall have to face one another in the judgment, and behold the record of our thoughts, words, and deeds, not as we have viewed them, but as they were in truth. God has enjoined upon us the duty of loving one another as Christ has loved us.—The Youth's Instructor, December 9, 1897.Ev 638.5

    Without Personal Feeling and Selfishness—Men must labor according to His [God's] rules and arrangement if they would meet with success. God will accept only those efforts that are made willingly and with humble hearts, without the trait of personal feelings or selfishness.—Letter 66, 1887.Ev 638.6

    Put On Gospel Shoes—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. 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.Ev 639.1

    Sacredness of God's Work—To handle sacred things as we would common matters is an offense to God; for that which God has set apart to do His service in giving light to this world is holy. Those who have any connection with the work of God are not to walk in the vanity of their own wisdom, but in the wisdom of God, or they will be in danger of placing sacred and common things on the same level, and thus separate themselves from God.—The Review and Herald, September 8, 1896.Ev 639.2

    Sense of Sacred Responsibility—Young men are arising to engage in the work of God, some of whom have scarcely any sense of the sacredness and responsibility of the work.... They talk nonsense, and sport with young girls, while almost daily listening to the most solemn, soul-stirring truths.—Testimonies For The Church 3:473 (1875).Ev 639.3

    Not Actors, but Teachers of the Word—I see that great reformation must take place in the ministry before it shall be what God would have it. Ministers in the desk have no license to behave like theatrical performers, assuming attitudes and expressions calculated for effect. They do not occupy the sacred desk as actors, but as teachers of solemn truths. There are also fanatical ministers, who, in attempting to preach Christ, storm, halloo, jump up and down, and pound the desk before them, as if this bodily exercise profited anything. Such antics lend no force to the truths uttered, but, on the contrary, disgust men and women of calm judgment and elevated views. It is the duty of men who give themselves to the ministry to leave all coarseness and boisterous conduct outside the desk at least.Ev 640.1

    Awkward and uncouth gestures are not to be tolerated in the common walks of life; how much less, then, are they to be endured in the most sacred work of the gospel ministry. The minister should cultivate grace, courtesy, and refinement of manner. He should carry himself with a quiet dignity becoming his elevated calling. Solemnity, a certain godly authority, mingled with meekness, should characterize the demeanor of him who is a teacher of God's truth.Ev 640.2

    Ministers should not make a practice of relating anecdotes in the desk; it detracts from the force and solemnity of the truth presented. The relation of anecdotes or incidents which create a laugh or a light thought in the minds of the hearers is severely censurable. The truths should be clothed in chaste and dignified language; and the illustrations should be of a like character.Ev 640.3

    Were the gospel ministry what it should and might be, the teachers of Christ's truth would be working in harmony with the angels; they would be co-laborers with their great Teacher. There is too little prayer among the ministers of Christ, and too much self-exaltation. There is too little weeping between the porch and the altar, and crying, “Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach.” There are too many long doctrinal sermons preached, without one spark of spiritual fervor and the love of God. There is too much gesticulation and relation of humorous anecdotes in the pulpit, and too little said of the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.Ev 640.4

    It is not enough to preach to men; we must pray with them and for them; we must not hold ourselves coldly aloof from them, but come in sympathy close to the souls we wish to save, visit and converse with them. The minister who conducts the work outside the pulpit in a proper manner will accomplish tenfold more than he who confines his labor to the desk.—The Review and Herald, August 8, 1878.Ev 641.1

    Avoid Jesting and Joking—This spirit of jesting and joking, of lightness and trifling, is a stumbling block to sinners and a worse stumbling block to those who give way to the inclination of the unsanctified heart. The fact that some have allowed this trait to develop and strengthen until jesting is as natural as their breath, does not lessen its evil effects. When anyone can point to one trifling word spoken by our Lord, or to any lightness seen in His character, he may feel that lightness and jesting are excusable in himself. This spirit is unchristian; for to be a Christian is to be Christlike. Jesus is a perfect pattern, and we must imitate His example. A Christian is the highest type of man, a representative of Christ.Ev 641.2

    Some who are given to jesting, and to light and trifling remarks, may appear in the sacred desk with becoming dignity. They may be able to pass at once to the contemplation of serious subjects, and present to their hearers the most important, testing truths ever committed to mortals; but perhaps their fellow laborers, whom they have influenced, and who have joined with them in the careless jest, cannot change the current of their thoughts so readily. They feel condemned, their minds are confused; and they are unfitted to enter upon the contemplation of heavenly themes, and preach Christ and Him crucified.Ev 641.3

    The disposition to say witty things that will create a laugh, when the wants of the cause are under consideration, whether in a committee meeting, a board meeting, or any other meeting for business, is not of Christ. This untimely mirth has a demoralizing tendency. God is not honored when we turn everything to ridicule one day, and the next day are discouraged and almost hopeless, having no light from Christ, and ready to find fault and murmur. He is pleased when His people manifest solidity, strength, and firmness of character, and when they have cheerful, happy, hopeful dispositions....Ev 642.1

    If the mind is centered upon heavenly things, the conversation will run in the same channel. The heart will overflow at the contemplation of the Christian's hope, the exceeding great and precious promises left on record for our encouragement; and our rejoicing in view of the mercy and goodness of God need not be repressed; it is a joy that no man can take from us.—The Review and Herald, June 10, 1884.Ev 642.2

    [See also pages 206-211, “Stories, Anecdotes, Jesting, and Joking.”]

    Jolly Ministers—There is one man in your conference (I know not his name) who should not be connected with the conference as a minister, for his influence on the minds of those seeking the truth is unfavorable. He was pointed out to me, and these words were spoken: “The cause of God is in no need of unconverted, jolly ministers. This man's spirit is not at all in harmony with the solemn work in which we are engaged.” The truth we profess to believe needs no trifling men to present it. One man with a light and jovial disposition will do more in leavening the churches with the same spirit than ten good men can do to remove the impression....Ev 642.3

    The converting power of God must come upon the hearts of the ministers, or they should seek some other calling. If Christ's ambassadors realize the solemnity of presenting the truth to the people, they will be sober, thoughtful men, workers together with God. If they have a true sense of the commission which Christ gave to His disciples, they will with reverence open the Word of God and listen for instruction from the Lord, asking for wisdom from Heaven, that as they stand between the living and the dead, they may realize that they must render an account to God for the work coming forth from their hands.Ev 643.1

    What can the minister do without Jesus? Verily, nothing. Then if he is a frivolous, joking man, he is not prepared to perform the duty laid upon him by the Lord. “Without Me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing.” The flippant words that fall from his lips, the trifling anecdotes, the words spoken to create a laugh, are all condemned by the Word of God and are entirely out of place in the sacred desk....Ev 643.2

    Unless the ministers are converted men, the churches will be sickly and ready to die. God's power alone can change the human heart and imbue it with the love of Christ. God's power alone can correct and subdue the passions and sanctify the affections. All who minister must humble their proud hearts, submit their will to the will of God, and hide their life with Christ in God.Ev 643.3

    What is the object of the ministry? Is it to mix the comical with the religious? The theater is the place for such exhibitions. If Christ is formed within, if the truth with its sanctifying power is brought into the inner sanctuary of the soul, you will not have jolly men, neither will you have sour, cross, crabbed men to teach the precious lessons of Christ to perishing souls.—Letter 15, 1890.Ev 644.1

    Walking Circumspectly—All the sang-froid, which is so common, the theatrical gestures, all lightness and trifling, all jesting and joking, must be seen by the one who wears Christ's yoke to be “not convenient”—an offense to God and a denial of Christ. It unfits the mind for solid thought and solid labor. It makes men inefficient, superficial, and spiritually diseased....Ev 644.2

    Let every minister be sedate. As he studies the life of Christ he will see the necessity of walking circumspectly. Yet he may be, and will be, if connected with the Sun of Righteousness, cheerful and happy, showing forth the praises of Him who hath called him out of darkness into His marvelous light. The conversation will be pure, entirely free from all slang phrases.—Manuscript 8a, 1888.Ev 644.3

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