Thursday, June 21, 2007
The lesson quotes Sister White on the topic of growth.
“The work of educating the mind and manners may be carried forward to perfection."—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 358, 359.
Notice her reference to manners in this sentence. This is something that has been lost in the last few years. Many have lowered their standards. It is not unusual to hear slang in the church aisles and platforms. Brethren are rude to one another in the name of truth and frankness. Many do it in the hopes of being relevant, but it always backfires. The importance of proper attire has also been relaxed. Why? Is it because people are more evil now than before or more liberal? Not really. Is it because there is no sense of decorum or respect anymore? Not really. These are just signs of a deeper issue.
Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3: 3 that “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus asked how this can happen and Christ replied,
John 3: 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
John 3: 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
John 3: 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
To be born again requires two things, dying to the old ways (repentance), and resuscitating to the newness of Christ. Something only God can do. Amen! Babies are born then they must grow. If God does the birthing, then it would make sense that God also does the growing. A continued yielding to, trusting in and depending on the Holy Spirit is needed to grow into the likeness of Christ. What will this look like? In the following article by Sister White you may find the answer. Let us read,
October 13, 1890 Result of Genuine Conversion.
By Mrs. E. G. White.
Genuine conversion brings the soul into living connection with Christ, and makes the person who has this experience a channel of light to the world. We have all had objectionable traits of character transmitted to us, and many have cultivated these until wrong habits of thought and action have taken deep hold on the nature; but when the truth of heavenly origin finds a place in the heart, a new, divine power begins to fashion the character after the divine Pattern. In the soul consecrated to the service of Christ will be a growing distaste for coarse thought, rough manners, and unseemly language, for it is all in opposition to the chaste, pure Spirit of Christ, which dwells within. How necessary that everyone who professes to be a follower of Christ should be so indeed, and practice the truth he professes!
Among the youth there are many whose names are on the church record, but who fail to bring themselves under discipline that they may improve in thought, speech, and manners. They persist in carrying with them their objectionable traits of character. They have vulgar sentiments, coarse manners, low habits. They carry these to others through their school association, and through life they sow tares instead of precious wheat. If low, common ways are indulged in childhood and youth, in the forming period of life, the future will be marred by blemishes; and even in manhood, many will fail to see the necessity of overcoming these defects, and of rectifying their hateful malformations of character. Temptation will overcome them, because they are weak in moral power.
Those who have divine enlightenment will see the necessity of overcoming, for they will realize something of the purpose of Heaven in regard to the influence they are to exert upon others for their salvation. If those who have serious faults to overcome, would rely on God with earnest faith, he would work for them; and the more diligently they devoted themselves to the cultivation of virtue and the discharge of duty, the more grace would they receive to become like the Pattern. With the experience of conversion to Christ, a new life begins. The apostle says, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Whoever accepts Jesus will make determined efforts to overcome through the strength imparted to him from Heaven; his whole character must and will be transformed. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith, he will go on from grace to grace, from strength to strength, and power will be given him to uproot every evil. He will turn from the service of Satan to the service of God. Faith, living, active faith, works by love and purifies the soul; it becomes an abiding principle in the life. Everyone who has accepted the righteousness of Christ is placed on high vantage-ground. His conversation, his habits, will be of a high, refined character, after the example of his Lord, and then he will not lie against the truth. He will rise above all baser things into the pure atmosphere of heaven.
Every soul who is drawn to Christ is to be a co-laborer with him. The apostle writes, "Ye are laborers together with God." But to be laborers together with God necessitates some high qualifications. The Lord requires those who would labor with him to be refined in language, to be polished in manner, and he is ready to bestow the grace of Christ on every earnest seeker. Through the help that Christ can give, the laborer with God may cultivate habits of neatness, of thoroughness, and present to the world an example which will in all things be worthy of imitation; for he may grow up unto the full stature of a man in Christ Jesus.
Those who have a careless, clownish manner, either in the family or in society, dishonor their divine Lord. Even ministers have thus misrepresented Christ, when in the pulpit they have made a display of theatrical actions and eccentric manners. This is not of God. Eccentricities are sometimes looked upon as virtues by men, but they do not aid in representing Christ. Careless attitudes and irreverent expressions may serve to please men of unrefined tastes, anecdotes may amuse, but the minister who seeks to cater to such tastes has a meager appreciation of the dignity, simplicity, goodness, and loveliness of the character of the divine Lord.
These individuals need our prayers and loving correction, not our criticism. Part of good manners is not criticizing and gossiping. Pray, and ask other to pray, that the Holy Spirit may take away your bad manners and give you good ones. Sometimes asking the Holy Spirit to remind you to stop before or during your involvement is very effective. He will remind you. You just respond by yielding.
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