BY ELLEN G. WHITE
The following is a Week of Prayer reading by Mrs. White that appeared in the November 24, 1904, issue of the Review and Herald for use on Sabbath, December 10, 1904. It was titled "A Preparation for the Coming of the Lord." Significantly, it deals with the same themes our current week has focused on. We have shortened it and added new titles. Bible texts have been given in the New King James Version.
hat does the Lord require of His blood-bought heritage? The sanctification of the whole being: purity like the purity of Christ, perfect conformity to the will of God. My brethren and sisters, God requires this of us. Into the holy city there can enter nothing that defileth, or maketh a lie. God's word to us is, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless" (Gen. 17:1). "You shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine" (Lev. 20:26). "You were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:20). "In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power" (Col. 2:9, 10). He "gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works" (Titus 2:14).
United to the Savior
We can, we can, reveal the likeness of our divine Lord. We can know the science of spiritual life. We can honor our Maker. But do we do it? Oh, what an illustrious example we have in the life that Christ lived on this earth! He has shown us what we can accomplish through cooperation with divinity. We are to seek for the union of which He speaks when He says, "Abide in Me, and I in you" (John 15:4). This union is deeper, stronger, truer, than any other union, and is productive of all good. Those who are thus united to the Savior are controlled by His will and are moved by His love to suffer with those who suffer, to rejoice with those who rejoice, to feel a deep sympathy for every one in weakness, sorrow, or distress.
Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for His children. He wants our minds to be clear, our tempers sweet, our love abounding. Then the peace that passeth knowledge will flow from us to bless all with whom we come in contact. The atmosphere surrounding our souls will be refreshing. . . .
United to One Another
I have been especially instructed in regard to the danger of drawing apart, and of evil speaking and contention. We need to bow before God in repentance because of our lack of love for one another, and for Him who died for us. The gold of love and faith is not abundant among us. Many are holding on to the truth with but the tips of their fingers. The precious time that should be spent in speaking of the Savior's power to save, is being spent by many in carrying evil reports. Unless they make a decided change, they will be found wanting. . . .
Let our people take up their appointed work, the work of soul-saving. Let them not think that upon them has been laid the burden of watching and criticizing the work of others. Those who put their whole souls into the work that God gives them will have no time to criticize the efforts of their fellow workers, no time to weaken the hands of those who are straining every nerve and muscle to advance the work.
Let not any man or woman feel that he or she has been appointed to carry evil reports from church to church, and from conference to conference. I have been grieved beyond measure to see how easy it is for persons to spend precious time in this cruel work. The proclamation of the first, second, and third angels' messages is now to be our burden. Those who spend their time in thinking and speaking evil are bringing to the foundation, material represented by hay, wood, and stubble, which will be consumed by the fires of the last days. They will one day see that their time has been spent in weakening churches, institutions, and conferences.
God hates all such work. He will call to account all who engage in it. Let those who fear God and believe His word put a guard on their lips. Let them be determined not to speak words that will injure the cause of God or give a wrong representation of the work being done in any of His institutions. Let them be careful not to speak words that will be a temptation to someone else to withhold the confidence and the words of courage that ought to be given to those who are severely tried, and who, perhaps, work early and late to fulfill the many calls of duty, until it seems as if mind and body would give way under the strain.
Words of suspicion and distrust, like the thistledown carried by the wind, are scattered far and wide, and can never be recalled. Un-christlike speech lies at the foundation of nine tenths of all the difficulties that exist in the church. Satan's agents are industriously trying to get professed Christians to speak unadvisedly. When they succeed, Satan exults, because God's followers have hurt their influence. We have no time, in these solemn moments, to contend with one another. . . .
Speak words of kindness, words of uplifting; for this is the fruit borne upon the Christian tree. Overcome all harshness. Eternity alone will reveal the harm that harsh words do to those who utter them, and to those who hear. Hold firmly to the One who has all power in heaven and earth, and although you often fail to reveal patience and calmness under provocation, by no means give up the struggle. Resolve again, this time more firmly, that you will be an example of Christian patience. Remember that those only will enter heaven who have overcome the temptation to think and speak evil.
"The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever." Isa. 32:17. Christ will be to His people all that these words express if they will heed the invitation to come to Him. He will be to them life and power, strength and efficiency, wisdom and holiness. God calls upon us to live the Christ-life, to reveal this life to the world. When we do this, prejudice will vanish, and difficulties will adjust themselves. We shall gather about the great Missionary, our hearts filled with gratitude and love.
United in Witnessing to the World
My brethren and sisters, instead of spending your time looking for and talking of the shortcomings of others, give yourselves to the work that Christ did when in this world. How untiringly He labored! In the temple and the synagogues, in the streets of the cities, in the marketplace and the workshop, by the seaside and among the hills, He preached the gospel and healed the sick. His life was one of unselfish service, and it is to be our lesson book. The work that He began we are to carry forward.
Brethren and sisters, how much work have you done for God during the past year? Do you think that it is those men only who have been ordained as gospel ministers that are to work for the uplifting of humanity? No, no! Every one who names the name of Christ is expected by God to engage in this work. The hands of ordination may not have been laid upon you, but you are nonetheless God's messengers. If you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, if you know His saving power, you can no more keep from telling this to someone else than you can keep the wind from blowing. You will have a word in season for him that is weary. You will guide the feet of the straying back to the fold. Your efforts to help others will be untiring, because God's Spirit is working in you. . . .
Questions for Sharing
1. What does the author say about destructive criticism? How serious are its consequences?
2. How does this admonition affect you personally? Do you see yourself on the giving end of this activity, on the receiving end, or neither? Regardless, what can you personally do to remedy this negative situation in the church?
3. How would you describe the importance of purity in the Christian life?
Christian worth does not depend upon brilliant talents, lofty birth, wonderful powers, but on a clean heart--a heart which, purified and refined, reflects the image of divinity. It is the presence of Him who gave His life for us that makes the soul beautiful. It is not eloquent speakers that are needed so much as humble, earnest workers, men and women who have a childlike trust in God. It is the men of prayer that are men of power. They will be enabled to lead sinners to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
United in Bible Truth
My brethren and sisters, do not allow trifling things to absorb your time and attention. Keep your mind on the glorious themes of the Word of God. A study of these themes will give you a strength that will carry you through the trials and difficulties of the last days, and bring you to where you will walk with Christ in white, because you are worthy. In the Word of God, studied and obeyed, we possess a spiritual guide and instructor by which the worst forms of evil in ourselves may be brought under the discipline of His law. If the teachings of this Word were made the controlling influence in our lives, if mind and heart were brought under its restraining power, the evils that now exist in churches and in families would find no place. Upon converted households the purest blessings would descend, and from these households an influence would go forth that would make God's people a power on the side of truth.
But there are many in our churches who know little of the meaning of the truth for this time. They have not searched for the truth with humble, contrite hearts. I appeal to the members of our churches not to disregard the fulfilling of the signs of the times, which say so plainly that the end is near. . . .
United in the Kingdom
On Christ's coronation day He will not acknowledge as His any who bear spot or wrinkle or any such thing. But to His faithful ones He will give crowns of immortal glory. . . .
In that day the redeemed will shine forth in the glory of the Father and His Son. The angels of heaven, touching their golden harps, will welcome the King, and those who are the trophies of His victory--those who have been washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. A song of triumph will peal forth, filling all heaven. Christ has conquered. He enters the heavenly courts accompanied by His redeemed ones, the witnesses that His mission of suffering and self-sacrifice has not been in vain.
Ellen G. White was one of the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Her work continues to be a prophetic voice among Adventists.