I have a case now in mind of one who was presented before me in vision who neglected these little things and could not interest himself in small duties, seeking to lighten the work of those indoors; it was too small business. He now has a family, but he still possesses the same unwillingness to engage in these small yet important duties. The result is, great care rests upon his wife. She has to do many things, or they will be left undone; and the amount of care which comes upon her because of her husband’s lack is breaking her constitution. He cannot now overcome this evil as easily as he could in his youth. He neglects the little duties and fails to keep everything up tidy and nice, therefore cannot make a successful farmer. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”
Naaman the Syrian consulted the prophet of God as to how he could be cured of a loathsome disease, the leprosy. He was bidden to go and bathe in Jordan seven times. Why did he not immediately follow the directions of Elisha, the prophet of God? Why did he refuse to do as the prophet commanded? He went to his servants, murmuring. In his mortification and disappointment he became passionate, and in a rage refused to follow the humble course marked out by the prophet of God. “I thought,” said he, “he will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.” His servant said: “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash [merely], and be clean?” Yes, this great man considered it beneath his dignity to go to the humble river Jordan, and wash. The rivers he mentioned and desired were beautified by surrounding trees and groves, and idols were placed in these groves. Many flocked to these rivers to worship their idol gods; therefore it would have cost him no humility. But it was following the specified directions of the prophet which would humble his proud and lofty spirit. Willing obedience would bring the desired result. He washed, and was made whole.
Your case is similar in some respects to Naaman’s. You do not consider that in order to perfect a Christian character you must condescend to be faithful in the littles. Although the things you are called to do may be of small account in your eyes, yet they are duties which you will have to do just as long as you live. A neglect of these things will make a great deficiency in your character. You, my dear boy, should educate yourself to faithfulness in small things. You cannot please God unless you do this. You cannot gain love and affection unless you do just as you are bidden, with willingness and pleasure. If you wish those with whom you live to love you, you must show love and respect for them.
It is your duty to do all in your power to lighten the cares of the sister with whom you live. You see her, pale and feeble, cooking for a large family. Every extra job she has to perform wears upon her and lessens her vitality. She has no young hands and feet to perform little errands. They received you into their family, as they told you and us at the time, expressly to do these things. Now if you neglect to do the very things they think will help them most, and choose to follow your will in an independent course of your own choosing, you must lose your place, and they must have one that will do the very things you consider too small for you to do. You are now doing larger and heavier work than your strength will admit. You love to do the work of a man. You have a set will of your own which must be given up. You must die to self, crucify self, gain the victory over self. You cannot be a true follower of Christ unless you take hold of this work resolutely.
I saw that you do not naturally possess reverence and respect for those older than yourself. You should be faithful in the little errands and duties you are required to perform, and not go murmuringly about them as though they were a drug. You cannot see how unpleasant and unlovely you make yourself. You cannot thus be happy yourself, nor make those around you happy. You should bear in mind that God requires of you, as His servant, to be faithful, patient, kind, affectionate, obedient, and respectful. You cannot attain to Christian perfection unless you possess perfect control of your own spirit. You allow feelings to arise in your heart which are sinful, which are a great injury to you, and which tend to encourage a hard, defiant spirit, unlike the spirit of Christ, whose life you are commanded to imitate.
My dear boy, commence anew, determined by God’s help to follow the things which are true, lovely, and of good report. Let the fear of God, united with love and affection for all around you, be seen in all your actions. Be faithful and thorough; rid yourself of everything like slackness. Have a place for everything, and put everything in its place. Be accommodating, kind, cheerful, and agreeable. Then you can win your way into the hearts of those with whom you associate. One thing ever bear in mind: No young man can be possessed of a right spirit who does not respect women and seek to lighten their cares. It is the worst sign that can be found in a young man to consider it beneath him to lighten the labor of women. Such a man is marked. No woman would commit the keeping of her life to such a man; for he will never make a tender, careful, considerate husband.
The boy is the type of the man. I entreat of you to face rightabout. Do everything that needs to be done in the shape of small duties, disagreeable though they may be. Then you will have the approval of those around you, and, what is to be more highly prized, you will have the approval of God. You cannot be a Christian unless you are a faithful servant in that which is least. If you pray, and strive to do your best to perform every duty, God will bless and help you. When Jesus comes to take His faithful ones to Himself, do you wish to have Him say to you: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”? Do you desire to have all imperfections removed from your character, that you may be found without fault before the throne of God? If so, you have a work to do for yourself which no one else can do for you. You have an individual responsibility before God. You can walk in the light, and daily receive strength from God to overcome every imperfection, and finally be among the faithful, true, and holy in the kingdom of God. Yield not to temptation. Satan will annoy you and seek to control your mind, that he may lead you into sin. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.”
Remember that the eye of God is ever upon you. When you answer disrespectfully, God sees and hears you. The time is coming when all shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body. You will have a part to act in the judgment. Jesus will either receive or reject you. Flee to Him for strength and grace. He desires to help you, to be the guide of your youth, and to so strengthen you that you can bless others with your influence. God loves you and will save you if you come in His appointed way; but if you rebel and choose your own course, it will be to your eternal loss. Pray much, for prayer is one of the most essential duties. Without it you cannot maintain a Christian walk. It elevates, strengthens, and ennobles; it is the soul talking with God.
Do not think you can cease your efforts or vigilance for a moment; you cannot. Study God’s word diligently, that you may not be ignorant of Satan’s devices, and that you may learn the way of salvation more perfectly. Your will must be submerged in God’s will. Seek not your own pleasure, but that of those around you; and in so doing you cannot but be happy. Come to Jesus with all your needs and wants, and in simple confidence crave His blessing. Trust in God, and seek to move from principle, strengthened and ennobled by high resolves and a determination of purpose found only in God.
You should not be easily provoked. Let not your heart become selfish, but let it expand with love. You have a work to do which you must not neglect. Endure hardship as a good soldier. Jesus is acquainted with every conflict, every trial, and every pang of anguish. He will help you; for He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet He sinned not. Go to Him, dear boy, with your burdens. Take no one into your confidence, and tell no one your difficulties, but us. Make Jesus your Burden Bearer, and seek a more thorough experience in religious things. God help and bless you, is my sincere prayer.
My tenderest sympathies are aroused for orphans. You indeed have no home. The grave has taken your father and your mother, and the home of your childhood others inhabit. You cannot have as distinct recollections of your godly father as of your mother. You remember that you sometimes grieved her. You had not learned submission; you have yet but partially learned the lesson. But the prayers of your parents, that you may be among those who love and fear God, have found a lodgment in heaven.
Oh, this is a cold and selfish world! Your relatives, who should have loved and befriended you for your parents’ sake if not for your own, have shut themselves up in their selfishness, and have no special interest for you. But God will be nearer and dearer to you than any of your earthly relatives can be. He will be your friend and will never leave you. He is a father to the fatherless. His friendship will prove sweet peace to you and will help you to bear your great loss with fortitude. Seek to make God your father, and you will never want a friend. You will be exposed to trials; yet be steadfast, and strive to adorn your profession. You will need grace to stand, but God’s pitying eye is upon you. Pray much and earnestly, believing that God will help you. Guard against irritability and petulance, and a spirit of tantalizing. Forbearance is a virtue which you need to encourage. Seek for piety of heart. Be a consistent Christian. Possess a love of purity and humble simplicity, and let these be interwoven with your life.
By educating yourself to fear God, and to love all around you, yours can be a useful, happy life, and your example can be such as to lead others to choose the humble path of holiness. Have moral courage at all times to do right and to honor your Redeemer. I implore you, dear boy, to seek true holiness.
Chapter 44—The Unruly Member
Dear Sister S,
Some things have been shown me in reference to you. You have not a sense of your true state. You need a deep and thorough work of grace in your heart. You need to set your heart and your house in order. Your example in your family is not worthy of imitation. You come up to a low standard, but fail to reach the standard elevated by our divine Lord. You love to visit and talk, and you say many things unbecoming a Christian. Your statements are exaggerated and frequently come far from the truth. Your words and acts will judge you in the last day. By them you will be justified or by them condemned. Your education has not been of an ennobling character, therefore there is the greatest necessity of your now training and educating yourself to purity of thought and action. Train your thoughts so that it will be easy for them to dwell upon pure and holy things. Cultivate a love for spirituality and true godliness.
Your conversation is often of a low order. You are deceiving your own soul, and this delusion will prove fatal unless you arouse to see yourself as you are and turn unto God with true humbleness of mind. You are inclined to be deceptive. Your son has not an experimental knowledge of God or of the sacred claims of truth. He is flattered by his parents that he is a Christian, but he is a most miserable representative of Sabbathkeeping Christians. God forbid that we acknowledge such as being Christlike. You do not discipline your boy. He is self-willed and bigoted. He has but very little sense of true courtesy or even common politeness. He is rough and uncultivated, unloving and unlovable. You represent to others that he is a Christian, and by so doing you disgrace the cause of Christ. This boy is in a fair way of becoming an educated hypocrite. He has no control over himself, yet you flatter him that he is a Christian.
The work of reform must commence with you. You should become chaste in conversation, and a keeper at home, loving home duties, loving your husband and child. You should study to economize your time so as not to overtax your strength. The light burden of home duties which you have to perform you can bear without overtaxation if you exercise perseverance and proper diligence. But you have a work to do to control the tongue. It is a little member and boasteth great things, but it needs the bridle of grace and the bit of self-control to keep it from running at random. Your conversation is of a low order, and you indulge in much cheap talk. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
May the Lord convict you of these things as you read these lines. I entreat of you to put on the meek dignity of a wife and mother. There is a responsibility resting upon the father. Your efforts should be united to control your son, who is fast traveling the road to perdition. You should earnestly seek for the inward adorning, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. With patience, grace, and sweet humility you can teach your poor, deceived boy the first principles of Christianity, and true politeness, or Christian courtesy. You are frequently hasty and boisterous. Oh, how important that you see the work to be done for you, before it shall be forever too late! Now Jesus invites you to come to Him, and to learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly of heart. The promise He has given you is sure, that you will find rest in Him. You have a great work to do. Deceive not your own souls, but examine yourselves as in the light of eternity. It is impossible for you to be saved as you are.
Sister S, your husband might be of some use in the church if your influence were what it ought to be. But your example and influence disqualify him to exert a sanctifying influence in the church. Home influences more than counteract his efforts for good. You are wholly unqualified to be the wife of an elder of the church. God calls upon you to reform. Your husband has a work to do to set his heart and house in order. When he is converted, then can he strengthen his brethren.
As a family, you need to be sanctified through the truth. Dear sister, will you see the work to be done for you and take hold of it without delay, that your influence may be saving? Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
There are enough profitable subjects upon which to meditate and converse. The conversation of the Christian should be in heaven, whence we look for the Saviour. Meditation upon heavenly things is profitable, and will ever be accompanied with the peace and comfort of the Holy Spirit. Our calling is holy, our profession exalted. God is purifying unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. He is sitting as a refiner and purifier of silver. When the dross and tin are removed, then His image will be perfectly reflected in us. Then the prayer of Christ for His disciples will be answered in us: “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.” When the truth has a sanctifying influence upon our hearts and lives, we can render to God acceptable service and can glorify Him upon the earth, being partakers of the divine nature and having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Oh, how many will be found unready when the Master shall come to reckon with His servants! Many have meager ideas of what constitutes a Christian. Self-righteousness will then be of no avail. Only those can stand the test who shall be found having on the righteousness of Christ, who are imbued with His spirit, and walk even as He walked, in purity of heart and life. The conversation must be holy, and then the words will be seasoned with grace.
May the Lord help you as a family to get right, to be elevated in life, and in all your acts to honor your profession.
Chapter 45—Comfort in Affliction
Dear Sister T,
I have learned of your affliction, and hasten to pen a few lines. My dear sister, I have the very best of evidence that the Lord loves you. In the last view given me, I was shown your case among others. I saw that you had been affected in the past with the course of error which others had pursued; but while strictly conscientious, and ever anxious to know the right, you were extremely sensitive and viewed your case as worse than it was.
You have been afflicted with disease for quite a length of time. You are a nervous dyspeptic. The brain is closely connected with the stomach, and its power has so often been called to aid the weakened digestive organs that it is in its turn weakened, depressed, congested. While in this state, your mind is gloomy, naturally dwelling upon the dark side, imagining that the frown of God is upon you. You have thought that your life has been useless, that it has been filled with errors and wrong moves. Dear sister, your diseased state of health leads you to this despondency and discouragement. God has not left you; His love is yet toward you. I saw that you should trust in Him as a child trusts itself in the arms of its mother. God is merciful and kind, and full of tender pity and compassion. He has not turned His face from you.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 309-318