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Selected Messages Book 2

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    Chapter 23—Counsel to One Who for Financial Reasons Was Planning to Leave the Work of God

    [On November 3, 1892, a publishing house manager wrote to Mrs. E. G. White to inform her that he had decided to leave the institution for employment outside the denominational work because of personal financial embarrassment. He had not managed to live within his income, had become indebted to the institution to the total amount of $1,244 during a period of eight years. In the meantime he had accumulated in like manner a debt at the sanitarium. Both institutions were kindly requesting him to settle these accounts. He felt that under the circumstances he would be justified in leaving denominational work for outside employment paying higher wages, with the hope of paying his debts and with the prospect of never returning to labor in the cause of God. The following letter is Mrs. White's reply.—Compilers.]2SM 210.1

    My brother, in your letter you speak of leaving the Review office. I am sorry that you can be willing to separate from the work for the reasons you mention. They reveal that you have a much deeper experience to gain than you now have. Your faith is very weak. Other families, much larger than yours, sustain themselves without one word of complaint, on half the wages you have. We have been over the ground, and I know what I am talking about. It is evident that whether you remain in the Review office or separate from it you have lessons to learn that will be of the highest interest to you. I do not feel at liberty to urge you to remain; for unless you drink deeper of the Fountain of living waters, your service will not be acceptable to God.2SM 210.2

    I do not know who would occupy the position that would be left vacant if you should leave, but if the work that the Lord designs and longs to do is done for the church in Battle Creek, I am sure He will help them in any crisis. He wants no forced service. Unless His words find entrance to the soul, and bring the entire man into subjection to Christ, the human agent will, when tempted and tried, choose to follow his own inclination rather than the ways of the Lord. I had hoped that the truth which has been shining in clear, distinct beams of light since the Minneapolis meeting, would flood your soul. But from the letters you have written, I know that you are not walking in the light....2SM 211.1

    Whatever position a man may fill in connection with the office of publication, he is not to be paid an exorbitant sum, for God does not work in this way. You lacked spiritual eyesight, and you needed the heavenly anointing, that you might see that the work of God was founded in a sacrifice, and only by a sacrifice can it be carried forward....2SM 211.2

    There have been those connected with the publishing house who know not and do not wish to know by experience what it cost their predecessors to build up the work. When these later workers accepted a part in it, they did not enter into a partnership with God. They do not recognize the principles and conditions that must govern the human agent in cooperation with the divine. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” No man who is not a partaker of this self-sacrificing love is prepared to labor for God. Many are blundering along, clinging to their burden of selfishness, as if it were a precious treasure, keeping diligently their own way. When they knock at the gate of heaven, saying, “Lord, Lord, open unto us,” many a man will hear the words, “No one enters here but those who can receive the heavenly benediction, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’ But thou hast faithfully served thyself, worked for thine own selfish interest, been good to thyself. Thou hast not laid up a treasure in heaven.”2SM 211.3

    We are not safe for one moment in cherishing indifference and carelessness in regard to our soul's salvation. Many will have to arouse and change their course of action if they are saved. The perils of the last days are upon us. Connection with divine influence through a strong, living, working faith, can alone make us to be laborers together with God. Those who would shun the self-denying, self-sacrificing part of religion, will never be partakers with Christ in His glory. There must be prayerful study and determined effort on the part of all who shall win the crown of life.2SM 212.1

    Let none feel that they can claim any merits because of their advantages of birth or position or education. How did they obtain those advantages? Only through Christ. God calls upon all who would have everlasting life to copy the Pattern. Truth and righteousness are the first principles of the gospel, and the only principles that Christ will recognize in any human agent. There must be heartfelt surrender of our will to God; we must renounce all our own supposed merits, and look to the cross of Calvary. This surrender to God involves effort on the part of the human agent to cooperate with the divine agencies; the branch must abide in the vine....2SM 212.2

    Many, oh, so many, among believers have scarcely food enough to eat, yet in their deep poverty they bring their tithes and offerings to the Lord's treasury. Many who know what it is to sustain the cause of God in hard and trying circumstances have invested means in the publishing house. They have willingly endured hardship and privation, and have watched and prayed for the success of the cause. Their gifts and sacrifices express the fervent gratitude and praise of their hearts to Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. No more fragrant influence can ascend to heaven. Their prayers and their alms come up as a memorial before God.2SM 212.3

    But the work of God in all its wide extent is one, and the same principles should control, the same spirit be revealed, in all its branches. It must bear the stamp of missionary work. Every department of the cause is related to all parts of the gospel field, and the spirit that controls one department, will be felt throughout the entire field. If a portion of the workers receive so large wages, there are others, in different branches of the work, that will call for higher wages, and the spirit of self-sacrifice will become extinct at the great heart of the work. Other institutions will catch the same spirit, and the Lord's favor will be removed from them, for He can never sanction selfishness. Thus our aggressive work would come to an end. It is possible to carry it forward only by continual sacrifice. From all parts of the world the calls are coming in for men and means to carry forward the work. Shall we be compelled to say, “You must wait; we have no money in the treasury”?2SM 212.4

    Brother X knows the earlier history of the work in the office; he knows the testimonies which God has sent to him and others in regard to self-denial and sacrifice. He is not ignorant of the many opening fields where the standard of truth is to be lifted, and where means are needed to establish the work. If he had the spirit of Christ, he would reveal the mind of Christ.2SM 213.1

    Deserters from the Army of the Lord

    In severing his connection with the work of God in the office, Brother X has done just what I had feared he would do. Had he denied self, standing at his post in obedience to the will of God and because this is the work of God, putting his whole heart into the work and bearing its responsibilities and burdens as others have borne them before him, even though he should not gain as much financially as in business for himself—had he done this, he would have made it manifest that he was not a timeserver. But how great was his interest for the office, if he could step out when he pleased, when it appeared to be for his interest to do so? Ought the soldiers in Christ's ranks to act in this way? Should soldiers in the army of the nation do this, they would be treated as deserters, and how does the heavenly universe look upon such soldiers in Christ's army? No one who engages in the work of God with an appreciation of its sacredness, could turn from the work to secure any worldly advantages whatsoever.2SM 213.2

    Brother Y, God has been very merciful to you and Brother X. Life, that has been so precarious with you both, He has graciously spared. Days, months, and years have been granted, bringing you opportunities to develop character. God has placed you in connection with His work, that you might become imbued with the spirit of Christ. Every day, every hour, comes to you as a blood-bought privilege, that you may not only work out your own salvation, but may be an agent in bringing souls to Christ, building up His kingdom, and making manifest the glory of God. God calls for heart and devotion to the work. Those who are indeed laborers together with God, will carry the burden of the work, and like the minister whom He shall send, they will feel, “Woe is me if I fail to stand faithful and true to my position of trust.”2SM 214.1

    My brother, if you have no more heart interest in the work than is indicated by the fact that you can drop it so easily, I have nothing to say, no plea to make for you to remain in the office, or for Brother X to return to it. You both reveal that you are not men that can be depended upon. And an example that would be given in offering you additional inducements to remain would not be pleasing to God.2SM 214.2

    I would not for one moment present to you or any other man a bribe of dollars and cents to hold you in connection with the work, whatever inconvenience it might suffer for a time because of your withdrawal from it. Christ stands at the helm. If His Spirit does not make you willing to be anything or do anything for the truth's sake, then you can learn that lesson only by passing through trial. God will test the faith of every soul. Christ has purchased us at an infinite sacrifice. Although He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might come in possession of eternal riches. All that we possess of ability and intellect is only that which the Lord has lent us in trust to use for Him. It is our privilege to be partakers with Christ in His sacrifice if we will.2SM 214.3

    The men of experience and piety who led out in this work, who denied self and did not hesitate to sacrifice anything for its success, are now sleeping in the grave. They were God's appointed channels through which the principles of spiritual life were communicated to the church. They had an experience of the highest value. They could not be bought or sold. Their purity and devotion and self-sacrifice, their living connection with God, were blessed to the upbuilding of the work. Our institutions were characterized by the spirit of self-sacrifice.2SM 215.1

    But in some respects the work has deteriorated. While it has grown in extent and facilities, it has waned in piety. In the days when we were struggling with poverty, those who saw how wondrously God wrought for the upbuilding of the cause, felt that no greater honor could be bestowed upon them than to be bound up with the interests of the work by sacred links which connected them with God. Would they lay down the burden and make terms with the Lord from a money standpoint? No, no. Should every timeserver forsake his post of duty, they would never desert the work. They would say, “If the Lord placed me here, He desires me to be a faithful steward, learning of Him day by day how to perform the work acceptably. I will stand at my post until God shall release me. I will know what it means to be a practical, wholehearted Christian. I expect my reward by and by.”2SM 215.2

    The believers who in the early history of the cause sacrificed for the upbuilding of the work were imbued with the same spirit. They felt that God demanded of all connected with His cause an unreserved consecration of soul, body, and spirit, of all their services and capabilities, to make the work a success. The testimonies came to them, claiming for God all their energies in cooperation with the divine agencies, and all the increased ability gained through the exercise of every faculty.2SM 215.3

    Blighting Effects of Selfishness and Covetousness

    Those who can sever their connection with the Lord's work for some worldly inducement, may think they have a degree of interest in the cause of God; but the selfishness and covetousness lurking in the human heart are most powerful passions, and the outcome of the conflict is not a mere conjecture. Unless the soul is daily living upon Christ's flesh and drinking His blood, the godly element will be overcome by the satanic. Selfishness and covetousness will bear away the victory. A self-confident, independent spirit will never enter into the kingdom of God. It is only those who are partakers with Christ in His self-denial and sacrifice that will be partakers with Him in His glory.2SM 216.1

    Those who realize, even in a limited degree, what redemption means to them and to their fellow men, will walk by faith, and they will comprehend in some measure the vast needs of humanity. Their hearts are moved to compassion as they behold the widespread destitution in our world—multitudes suffering for food and clothing, and the moral destitution of thousands upon thousands who are under the shadow of a terrible doom, in comparison with which physical suffering fades into nothingness. The religion of Jesus Christ has gained wonderful victories over human selfishness. The self-denial, the self-sacrifice of Christ is ever before those who are co-workers with Him, and the will of man becomes submerged in the will of God2SM 216.2

    God designs that all who are laborers together with Him should have a rich experience in His love and His power to save. Never should we say, “I have no experience,” for that God who gave Paul an experience will reveal Himself to every soul who will earnestly seek Him. What said God to Abraham? “I know him,” said the heart-searching God, “that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment” (Genesis 18:19). Abraham would cultivate home religion, and the fear of the Lord would lead to integrity of life. He who blesses the habitation of the righteous says, “I know him that he will command.” There is no betraying of sacred trusts, no hesitating between right and wrong. The Holy One has given rules for the guidance of all—the standard of character from which none can swerve and be guiltless. God's will is to be diligently and conscientiously studied, and it must be made paramount in all the affairs of life. The laws which every human agent is to obey flow from the heart of infinite love.2SM 216.3

    That same Holy Watcher who says, “I know Abraham,” knew Cornelius also, and sent His angel with a message to the man who had received and improved all the light God had given him. The angel said, “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter.” Then the specific directions are given, “He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do” (Acts 10:4-6). Thus the angel of the Lord works to bring Cornelius in connection with the human agent through whom he might receive greater light. Study the whole chapter carefully and see the simplicity of the whole transaction. Then consider that the Lord knows every one of us by name, and just where we live, and the spirit we possess, and every act of our life. The ministering angels are passing through the churches, noting our faithfulness in our individual line of duty.2SM 217.1

    They take note also of our neglect of duty. Mark the case of Ananias and Sapphira. In pretending that they had consecrated their entire possession to God, they lied to the Holy Spirit, and as the result of their deception they lost not only the life that now is, but that which is to come. It is sad for anyone to handle sacred things, and yet bring into the service their own peculiar traits of character, making God to serve with their sins. God desires them, in their position of trust, to exemplify the mind of Christ, but the objectionable traits of character are interwoven with all their work, and the sacred cause of God is marred by their selfishness. The Lord knows whether those who carry the burden of responsibility are faithful stewards, maintaining strict integrity in every transaction, and placing this impress upon every phase of their work....2SM 217.2

    Your heart is sad and grieved, but no longer deceive yourself, or expect that men and women will value the light that God has given them from His own holiness, until they shall open their hearts to Jesus. “Lean on Me,” He says, “trust in Me: I will never fail you; I will be to you a present help in every time of need.”2SM 218.1

    I have been shown that all who now occupy important positions in the Review office will be tested. If they will make Christ their pattern, He will give them wisdom and knowledge and understanding; they will grow in grace and aptitude in Christ's way; their characters will be molded after His similitude. If they fail to keep the way of the Lord, another spirit will control the mind and judgment, and they will devise plans without the Lord, and will take their own course, and leave the positions they have occupied. The light has been given them; If they depart from it, and follow their own course, let no man present a bribe to induce them to remain. They will be a hindrance and a snare. The time has come when everything is to be shaken that can be shaken, that those things that cannot be shaken may remain.—Letter 20a, 1893.2SM 218.2

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