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

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    MR No. 1536—How a Christian Should Treat Others

    (Written February 8, 1895, from “Norfolk Villa,” Prospect Street, Granville, N.S.W., to an unknown church member.)

    I received your letter, and I thank you for writing me the particulars that you did. The only way for you to meet the difficulties which seem to be hedging up your way to usefulness is to walk humbly with God. When self is hid in Jesus, we are shielded from the darts of the enemy. Consistency of life alone can command respect, and sincerity of counsel alone be effectual to persuade.21MR 178.1

    The Lord has given great light to His people as to how they should treat the erring. They should aid those who need help, who are struggling with all their power to overcome in the name and strength of Jesus. Every true agent of Christ will be a doer of His words, will wear His yoke, and be [a] laborer together with Him. Those who are followers of Christ will not exhibit characteristics that are cheap and selfish, but in word, spirit, and action they will reveal the tenderness of Christ.21MR 178.2

    Some will even sacrifice the claims of friendship to carry out their own ideas, thinking that their wonderful zeal is zeal for the Lord, but their inspiration is not from above. We have need constantly to be watchful and to guard self, lest we press upon others principles which we do not practice ourselves. A domineering, overbearing spirit is not of God, and should not be exercised toward believers or unbelievers, however lowly may be their station. Christians are required to represent Christ in all their dealings with those for whom He has given His precious life.21MR 178.3

    However high may be our position, as children of God it becomes us to be meek and lowly of heart. The heavier the responsibilities we venture to bear, the more diligent students we should be in the school of Christ, ever learning of Him the manner of His speech, the kindness, the merciful forbearance, the tender, pitying love, the yearning compassion of His Spirit.21MR 178.4

    Christ manifests compassion toward those who most need His help and strength, toward those who have most difficult battles to fight. In this regard those who have accepted holy office of trust should learn a most thorough lesson. Unless they learn of Christ they will fail to reveal tenderness, sympathy, and compassion.21MR 178.5

    The atmosphere that surrounds the soul must be vitalized by heavenly principle, for naturally our influence is but evil. When all feel that it is a positive duty to see what atmosphere surrounds their soul, and by viewing Christ with the eye of faith to keep above the fogs and the clouds and look upon Him who is invisible, then our influence will exert a continual power, no matter what may be our calling or position.21MR 178.6

    He who continually beholds Christ will make it manifest in his spirit, in his words, in his course of action. He will not crowd anyone, will not push tried souls into stronger temptation, or indifferently leave them on Satan's battleground. He will reach out a hand to help, and seek to draw souls upward and heavenward. As a laborer together with God, he will see to it that the feet of the tempted ones are firmly planted on the Rock of ages.21MR 179.1

    Personal communion with God is the only means by which holiness of character may be prompted. Let those who are dealing with souls watch unto prayer, lest by a harsh spirit and unwise modes of action they destroy those for whom Christ has died.21MR 179.2

    As you work inquire, Is this the way that Christ would work? Is this course of action after the divine similitude? Every man who accepts a leading position is charged of the Lord to guard his actions with holy jealousy, lest he shall make a blunder in dealing with human minds.21MR 179.3

    To lose one's own soul because of pursuing a perverted course of action, is a terrible calamity, but how much more terrible is it to pursue a course of action that will destroy the souls of others! Many are ruining souls by taking a thoughtless, un-Christlike course of action.21MR 179.4

    Men in positions of influence, men who have ventured to assume responsibility, are dealing with human minds in a manner wholly unlike the manner in which Jesus dealt with human minds. Their friendship does not profit but rather weakens and destroys. The manner in which they deal with the erring has been represented to me under this figure—they are like a man in a boat who sees another struggling in the waves for his life. The drowning man tries to grasp hold of the boat to save his life, but instead of reaching out a helping hand to the perishing to lift him into the boat, he reaches down to break the drowning man's grasp, and leaves him to perish in the dark hungry waters. This represents the course of many.21MR 179.5

    As soon as some men begin to feel that they have an influence, then they begin to manifest their power in oppressing and domineering over their fellow men. The Lord lives and reigns, and He will require for all these things. With what holy jealousy should the individual guard his thoughts that his heart may be clean from all jealousy, and his words be sweet and fragrant, a savor of life unto life.21MR 179.6

    Christ has died to save souls, and those who wear the yoke with Him will be copartners with Him, and will act in a Christlike manner. When a soul is in spiritual danger and falls from error into sin, such an one will not push him away, drive him to take desperate positions, and discourage him in every effort he may make to recover himself. Peter asked, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” [Matthew 18:21, 22]. This is to make manifest the fact that there is no limit to the forgiving love of Christ.21MR 180.1

    Many, many souls have been lost who might have been saved if our sentinels had been faithful in watching for souls as they that must give an account. We should let those who are in danger understand that we appreciate them, that we are not willing to give them up. Speak to them, pray with them, and exhort them in love. Many have dealt with the erring as with traitors, when they ought to have been dealt with in the mercy and compassion of Christ. Men have not cherished and cultivated the attributes of His character.21MR 180.2

    If those who accept positions of trust in connection with the work of God appreciate what is involved in rightly carrying out their responsibilities before the universe of heaven, they would rather resign their positions than not bear them to the honor of God. They need daily to be converted, to be clean vessels. A strange delusion is upon the minds of many who claim to be the workmen of God.21MR 180.3

    We should take heed to the lessons which Christ has given to His disciples. The disciples asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” [Matthew 18:1; verses 2-7, quoted]. The religion of the Bible is to guide the conduct of everyone who sincerely believes in Christ. The Bible must guide us in our dealings in daily life. We may make a profession of being followers of Christ, and yet if we are not doers of His Word we shall be like the counterfeit coin. We shall not have the right ring.21MR 180.4

    Every one of us is a member of the human family. We owe it to God to love Him, to manifest affection for Him in our ways and words. We owe it to every member of the human family, whether black or white, high or low, to treat him with kindness, and to manifest interest for his soul. As members of one family we are all brethren, and we are connected by ties of relationship with unconverted persons. We are not to withdraw ourselves and refuse to associate with the people of the world but, relying firmly upon God, expecting His divine assistance, we are to go forth to live a consistent Christian life, and to win others by precept and example.21MR 180.5

    We have been warned by Christ not to yoke up with unbelievers to be molded by their ways. If we do thus yoke up with them, it will not be surprising if the Lord permits us to be bitterly chastened; for we place ourselves in the way of temptation, and walk entirely contrary to the plainest directions of the Word of God. We must rely upon the Holy Spirit to change the heart. No human friend, however close the relation, can do the work of the Holy Spirit.21MR 181.1

    Unless there is change in the attitude of those who claim to be Christians and who manifest harshness in speaking to their brethren, their candlestick will be removed out of its place. The Lord is soon to come. It is true that it is necessary to give reproof at times, but let it not be administered in harshness, spoken in passion; let it be given with tender, earnest love. If men make mistakes, and must needs be corrected, let him who corrects and reproves not commit a greater error than the one he reproves by manifesting a harsh, dictatorial, unforgiving spirit. This spirit has been manifested to a large extent, and unkindness, un-Christlikeness have proved the loss of many souls.21MR 181.2

    The apostle Paul found it necessary to reprove wrong in the church, but he did not lose his self-control in reproving error. He anxiously explains the reason of his action. How carefully he wrought so as to leave the impression that he was a friend of the erring! He made them understand that it cost him pain to give them pain. He left the impression upon their minds that his interest was identified with theirs. He says, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you” [2 Corinthians 2:4].21MR 181.3

    The converting power of God needs to come upon men who deal with sacred things. God has borne long with our individual perversities, and has not given us up to our own way to be filled with the fruit of our own doings, and we should learn to be patient with the perversities and errors of others. We shall reveal what is in our hearts by the words we speak. The connection between the heart and the words of our mouth is very intimate, and by our words we shall be individually judged in the last day. “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” [Matthew 12:36, 37].21MR 181.4

    Our thoughts produce our words, and our words react upon our thoughts. Would it not be well for us to cultivate love rather than hatred? Would it not be well for us to seek to save those who are in need of saving, to help those who most need help? By manifesting an unforgiving, relentless spirit shall we drive souls away from Christ and the truth? Shall we break their hold upon faith and hope? This has been done in our churches.21MR 181.5

    There are many who read the Bible who do not practice its teachings. Those who occupy positions as teachers, as counselors, ought to be circumspect. They should be modest, unobtrusive, and manifest humility. Let us see what the Lord says about this matter. [Isaiah 57:15, 19; 66:2, quoted.]21MR 182.1

    Children of God are citizens of heaven. They are the purchase of the Son of God, His blood-bought family. Every soul is precious in His sight, more precious in His sight, more precious than fine gold, even than the golden wedge of Ophir, and yet to every one the word of God declares: [Romans 12:3, 10; 1 Peter 5:5, quoted].21MR 182.2

    These words describe true humility of mind; they reveal a heart touched by the love of Jesus. He who has the Spirit of Christ will have modesty of demeanor, and his words will reveal that the Holy Spirit is cherished. Christians will not be bold, rash, dictatorial, boastful, denunciatory, and revengeful, but will manifest an unassuming, gentle spirit, and will show that they discern and appreciate the virtues of others.21MR 182.3

    They will give due respect to all saints, counting them members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. They will speak kindly when in conversation, whether they are young or old, high or low, learned or unlearned. Their words will not be like piercing swords. They will not have a spirit to humble their brethren by accusing and condemning them for their faults or errors.21MR 182.4

    The Lord your Saviour commissions me to give you this message: Cherish love, for love is of God. Harshness and accusation are of the devil. Cultivate love, and express it with kindly, tender, sympathetic words, spoken in simplicity and Christlikeness. Talk cheerfully and hopefully, whether you feel hopeful or not. Talk faith and love and “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” We cannot better glorify God than by being witnesses of the fact that through the power of His rich grace there is peace and joy in the Saviour. Cheerful, holy endeavor to keep the unity of the faith presents heavenly credentials to the world that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world as the Saviour of men.—Letter 16a, 1895.21MR 182.5

    Ellen G. White Estate

    Silver Spring, Maryland,

    December 13, 1990.

    Entire Letter.