Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 99-108 Day 208

Self-Conceit and Selfishness

Dear brother, you have made a sad mistake in standing before the patients in the parlor, as you have frequently done, and exalting yourself and wife. Your own children have learned lessons from these remarks that have given shape to their characters. You will now find it not an easy matter to correct the impressions that have been made. They have been proud and self-conceited. They have thought that as your children they were superior to children in general. You have felt anxious lest the people should not give you the respect due your position as a physician of the Health Institute. This has shown a vein of weakness in you which has hindered your spiritual advancement. It has also led to a jealousy of others, fearing that they would supplant you or not place the right estimate upon your position and value. You have also exalted your wife, placing her before the patients as a superior creature. You have been like a blind man; you have given her credit for qualifications which she does not possess.

You should have remembered that your moral worth is estimated by your words, your acts, your deeds. These can never be hidden, but will place you upon the right elevation before your patients. If you manifest interest for them, if you devote labor to them, they will know it, and you will have their confidence and love. But talk will never make them believe that your arduous labor for them has taxed you and exhausted your vitality, when they know that they have not had your special attention and care. The patients will have confidence and love for those who manifest a special interest in them and who labor for their recovery. If you do this work, which cannot be left undone, which the patients pay their money to have done, then you need not seek to gain esteem and respect by talking; you will as surely have it as you do the work.


You have not been free from selfishness, and therefore you have not had the blessing which God gives His unselfish workmen. Your interest has been divided. You have had such a special care for yourself and yours, that the Lord has had no reason to especially work and care for you. Your course in this respect has disqualified you for your position. I saw one year ago that you felt competent to manage the Institute yourself alone. Were it yours, and you the one to be especially benefited or injured by its losses and gains, you would see it your duty to have a special care that losses should not occur and that patients who were there upon charity should not drain the Institute of means. You would investigate and would not have them remain a week longer than it was positively necessary. You would see many ways by which you could reduce expenses and keep up the property of the Institute. But you are merely employed, and the zeal, interest, and ability which you think you possess to carry on such an institution do not appear. The patients do not receive the attention for which they have paid and which they have a right to expect.

You were shown me as frequently turning away from invalids who were in need of your counsel and advice. You were presented before me as apparently indifferent, seeming rather impatient while scarcely listening to what they were saying, which was to them of great importance. You seemed to be in a great hurry, putting them off till some future time, when a very few appropriate words of sympathy and encouragement would have quieted a thousand fears, and given peace and assurance in the place of disquietude and distress. You appeared to dread to speak to the patients. You did not enter into their feelings, but held yourself aloof, when you should have manifested more familiarity. You were too distant and unapproachable. They look to you as children to a parent, and have a right to expect and receive attentions from you which they do not obtain. “Me and mine” comes between you and the labor your position requires you to perform. The patients and helpers need your advice frequently; but they feel an unwillingness to go to you, and do not feel free to speak with you.


You have sought to maintain an undue dignity. In the effort you have not attained the object, but have lost the confidence and love which you might have gained had you been unassuming, possessing meekness and humility of mind. True devotion and consecration to God will find a place for you in the hearts of all, and will clothe you with a dignity not assumed but genuine. You have been exalted by the words of approval which you have received. The life of Christ must be your pattern, teaching you to do good in every place that you occupy. While caring for others, God will care for you. The Majesty of heaven did not avoid weariness. He traveled on foot from place to place to benefit the suffering and needy. Although you possess some knowledge, may have some understanding of the human system, and can trace disease to its cause,–although you may have the tongue of men and of angels,–there are yet qualifications necessary or all your gifts will be of no special value. You must have a power from God which can only be realized by those who make Him their trust and who consecrate themselves to the work that He has given them to do. Christ must be a portion of your knowledge. His wisdom instead of yours should be considered. Then you will understand how to be a light in the rooms of the sick. You lack freedom of spirit, power, and faith. Your faith is feeble for want of exercise; it cannot be vigorous and healthful. Your efforts for those who are sick in heart and body will not be as successful as they might be, the patients will not gain in physical and spiritual strength as they might, if you do not carry Jesus with you in your visits. His words and works should accompany you. Then you will feel that those whom your prayers and words of sympathy have blessed will bless you in return.


You have not felt your whole dependence upon God and your inefficiency and weakness without His special wisdom and grace. You worry, fear, and doubt because you have worked too much in your own strength. In God you can prosper. In humility and holiness of mind you will find great peace and strength. They shine brightest who feel most their own weakness and darkness, for such make Christ their righteousness. Your strength should come from your union with Him. Be not weary in well-doing.

The Majesty of heaven has invited the weary ones: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” The reason the burden sometimes seems so heavy and the yoke so galling is because you have got above the meekness and lowliness possessed by our divine Lord. Cease trying to gratify and exalt self; but rather let self be hidden in Jesus, and learn of Him who has invited you and promised you rest.

I saw that the Health Institute can never prosper while those who hold responsible positions connected with it have more interest for themselves than for the institution. God wants unselfish men and women as workers in His cause; and those who take charge of the Health Institute should have an oversight of every department there, practicing economy, caring for the trifles, guarding against losses. In short, they should be as careful and judicious in their management as though they themselves were the actual proprietors.

You have been troubled with a feeling that this and that was not your business. Everything connected with the Institute is your business. If certain things come under your observation that you cannot attend to properly, being called in another direction, call for the help of someone who will give these matters immediate attention. If this work is too arduous for you, someone should take your place who can perform thoroughly all the duties devolving upon one holding your responsible position.


In your parlor talks you have frequently charged the patients and helpers with bringing unnecessary burdens and cares upon you, while, at the same time, I saw that you were not performing half the duties resting upon you as a physician. You were not properly attending to the cases of the sick under your care. The patients are not blind; they perceive your neglect of them. They are away from their homes and upon expense to obtain the care and treatment that they could not receive at home. All this scolding in the parlor is injurious to the institution and displeasing to God.

It is true that you have had heavy burdens to bear, but in many cases you have blamed the patients and helpers when the trouble was in your own family. They require your constant help, but do not help you in return; there is no one in your home to stay up your hands or give you encouragement. Had you no burden outside the Institute you could bear up much better and not lose strength and fortitude. It is your duty to care for your family, but it is not at all necessary for them to be as helpless as they are and so great a weight upon you. They could assist you if they would.

It is your duty also to preserve your health; and if your family cares are so great that the work in which you are engaged is overtaxing you, and you are unable to devote the time and attention to the patients and the Institute which is actually their due, then you should resign your position and seek to place yourself where you can do justice to your family, yourself, and to the responsibilities you assume. The position you now occupy is an important one. It requires a clear intellect, strength of brain, nerve, and muscle. Earnest devotion to the work is necessary for its success, and nothing short of this will make the institution prosperous. To be a living thing, it must have live, disinterested workers to conduct it.


Sister I, you have not been the help to your husband that you should have been. Your attention has been devoted more to yourself. You have not realized the necessity of arousing your dormant energies to encourage and strengthen your husband in his labors, or to bless your children with the right influence. Had you set yourself diligently about the duties God has enjoined upon you, had you helped to bear the burdens of your companion and united with him to properly discipline your children, the order of things in your family would have been changed.

But you have yielded to feelings of gloom and sadness, and this has brought upon your dwelling a cloud instead of sunshine. You have not encouraged hope and cheerfulness, and your influence has been depressing upon those whom you should have aided by kindly words and deeds. All this is the result of selfishness. You have required the attention and sympathy of your husband and children, and yet have not felt that it was your duty to take your mind off yourself and labor for their happiness and well-being. You have given way to impatience, and have harshly reproved your children. This has only confirmed them in their evil ways and severed the cords of affection that should bind the hearts of parents and children together.

You have lacked self-control and have censured your husband in the presence of your children; this has lessened his authority over them, and yours also. You have been very weak; when your children have come to you with complaints of others, you have immediately decided in their favor, and have unwisely censured and blamed those of whom they complained. This has cherished in the minds of your children a disposition to murmur against those who do not pay them the deference they imagine they deserve. You have indirectly encouraged this spirit instead of silencing it. You have not dealt with your children as firmly and justly as you should have done.


You have had trials. You have been oppressed in mind. You have been discouraged, but have unjustly charged this unhappiness upon others. The main cause is to be found in yourself. You have failed to make your home what it should be and what it might have been. It is yet in your power to correct the faults there. Come out of that cold and stiff reserve. Give more love, rather than exact it; cultivate cheerfulness; let the sunshine into your heart, and it will shine upon those about you; be more social in your manners; seek to gain the confidence of your children, that they may come to you for advice and counsel; encourage in them humility and unselfishness, and set before them the right example.

Awake, my dear brother and sister, to the needs of your family. Do not be blinded, but take hold of the work unitedly, calmly, prayerfully, and in faith. Set your house in order, and God will bless your efforts.

Chap. 10 – Influence of Social Surroundings

I was shown, December 10, 1872, the state of Brother K’s family. He has been a true believer and lover of the truth, but has been drinking in the spirit of the world. Said Christ: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Brother K, your earthly treasure claims your interest and attention to such an extent that you do not afford time to serve God; yet your wife is dissatisfied that you give Him the meager pittance that you do. A worldly insanity has taken possession of her heart. Neither of you takes sufficient time for meditation and prayer. God is robbed of your daily service, and you yourselves are meeting with a greater loss than that of every earthly treasure.

Sister K, you are still farther from God than your husband is. Your conformity to the world has banished your Saviour from your heart; there is no room for Him in your affections. You have but little inclination for prayer and searching your heart. You are yielding yourself to obey the prince of the powers of darkness. “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.”


Sister K, you know not what you are doing; you do not realize that you are warring against your Creator in drawing your husband away from the truth. Your attention is on the advantages that the world gives. You have not cultivated a love for devotion, but are better pleased with the stir and bustle of laboring to acquire wealth. You are absorbed in your desire to be like the world, that you may receive the happiness that the world gives. Your earthly ambitions and interests are greater than your desire for righteousness and for a part in the kingdom of God.

Your precious probationary time is spent in laboring for your temporal welfare, in dressing, and eating, and drinking after the manner of the world. Oh, how unsatisfying, how meager is the recompense obtained! In your worldly desires and pursuits you are carrying a heavier burden than your Saviour has ever proposed to lay upon you. Your Redeemer invites you: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” My sister, Christ would have you lay down your heavy weight at His feet and submit your stubborn neck to His easy yoke.

What if your probation should close at this time? How would you bear the investigation of the Master? How have you employed the talents of means and influence lent you of God for wise improvement to His glory? God has given you life and its blessings, not to be devoted to your own pleasure and selfish gratification merely, but that you may benefit others and do good. The Master has entrusted you with talents that you should put out to the exchangers, that when He requires them again He may receive His own with usury.


Your influence and means have been given you to test you, to reveal what is in your heart; you should use them to win souls to Christ and thus advance the cause of your Redeemer. If you fail to do this you are making a terrible mistake. Every day that you devote to serving yourself, and to pleasing your friends by yielding to their influence in loving the world and neglecting your best Friend, who died to give you life, you are losing much.

Sister K, you have thought that it was not well for you to be different from those around you. You are in a community that has been tested on the truth and has rejected it, and you have linked your interests and affections with theirs until you are to all intents one of them. You love their society; yet you are not happy, though you flatter yourself that you are. You have said in your heart: “It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts?”

It is no small matter for a family to stand as representatives of Jesus, keeping God’s law in an unbelieving community. We are required to be living epistles known and read of all men. This position involves fearful responsibilities. In order to live in the light, you must come where the light shines. Brother K, at any sacrifice, should feel under solemn obligation to attend, with his family, at least the yearly gatherings of those who love the truth. It would strengthen him and them, and fit them for trial and duty. It is not well for them to lose the privilege of associating with those of like faith; for the truth loses its importance in their minds, their hearts cease to be enlightened and vivified by its sanctifying influence, and they lose spirituality. They are not strengthened by the words of the living preacher. Worldly thoughts and worldly enterprises are continually exercising their minds to the exclusion of spiritual subjects.

The faith of most Christians will waver if they constantly neglect to meet together for conference and prayer. If it were impossible for them to enjoy such religious privileges, then God would send light direct from heaven by His angels, to animate, cheer, and bless His scattered people. But He does not propose to work a miracle to sustain the faith of His saints. They are required to love the truth enough to take some little pains to secure the privileges and blessings vouchsafed them of God. The least they can do is to devote a few days in the year to a united effort to advance the cause of Christ and to exchange friendly counsel and sympathy.


Many devote nearly all their time to their own temporal interests and pleasures, and grudge the few days spent and the expense involved in going a distance from their homes to meet with a company gathered together in the name of the Lord. The word of the Lord defines covetousness as idolatry; then how many idolaters are there, even among those who profess to be the followers of Christ!

It is required that we meet together and bear testimony to the truth. The angel of God said: “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name. And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”

It will pay, then, to improve the privileges within our reach, and, even at some sacrifice, to assemble with those who fear God and speak for Him; for He is represented as hearkening to those testimonies, while angels write them in a book. God will remember those who have met together and thought upon His name, and He will spare them from the great conflagration. They will be as precious jewels in His sight, but His wrath will fall on the shelterless head of the sinner. It is not a vain thing to serve God. There is a priceless reward for those who devote their life to His service. Dear brother and sister, you have been gradually entering the darkness until almost imperceptibly it has grown to appear like the light to you. Occasionally a feeble glimmer penetrates the gloom and arouses the mind; but surrounding influences shut out the ray of light, and the darkness seems denser than before.


It would have been better for your spiritual welfare had you changed your place of residence some years ago. The light of truth tested the community in which you live. A few received the message of mercy and warning, while it was rejected by many. Still another class did not accept it because there was a cross to lift. They took a neutral position and thought that if they did not war against the truth they would be doing quite well, but the light they neglected to receive and cherish went out in darkness. They endeavored to quiet conscience by saying to the Spirit of God: “Go Thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for Thee.” That convenient season has never come. They neglected the golden opportunity that has never again returned to them, for the world has shut out the light that they refused. The interests of this life and the charm of exciting pleasures absorb their minds and hearts, while their best Friend, the blessed Saviour, is rejected and forgotten.

Sister K, although possessing excellent natural qualities, is being drawn away from God by her unbelieving friends and relatives, who love not the truth and have no sympathy with the sacrifice and self-denial that must be made for the truth’s sake. Sister K has not felt the importance of separation from the world, as the command of God enjoins. The sight of her eyes and the hearing of her ears have perverted her heart.

John the Baptist was a man filled with the Holy Ghost from his birth, and if there was anyone who could remain unaffected by the corrupting influences of the age in which he lived, it was surely he. Yet he did not venture to trust his strength; he separated himself from his friends and relatives, that his natural affections might not prove a snare to him. He would not place himself unnecessarily in the way of temptation nor where the luxuries or even the conveniences of life would lead him to indulge in ease or to gratify his appetite, and thus lessen his physical and mental strength. By such a course the important mission upon which he came would have failed of its accomplishment.

Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4 pp. 99-108