In my devotions this morning, I was directed to the following article. I have been greatly saddened by the events over the last couple of days in our country. This article spoke to me about the importance of unity within our church. I trust it will be as much a blessing, challenge, and encouragement for you as it has been for me.
The Necessity of Harmony
The Spirit of God will not abide where there is disunion and contention among believers in the truth. Even if these feelings are unexpressed, they take possession of the heart, and drive out the peace and love that should characterize the Christian church. They are the result of selfishness in its fullest sense. This evil may take the form of inordinate self-esteem, or of an undue longing for the approbation of others, even if that approbation is obtained undeservedly. Self-exaltation must be renounced by those who profess to love God and keep His commandments, or they need not expect to be blessed by His divine favor.
The moral and religious influence at the Health Institute must be elevated in order to meet the approbation of heaven. The indulgence of selfishness will surely grieve the Spirit of God from the place. Physicians, superintendent, and helpers should work harmoniously in the spirit of Christ, each esteeming others better than himself.
The apostle Jude says: “Of some have compassion, making a difference.” This difference is not to be exercised in a spirit of favoritism. No countenance should be given to a spirit that implies: “If you favor me, I will favor you.” This is unsanctified, worldly policy, which displeases God. It is paying favors and admiration for the sake of gain. It is showing a partiality for certain ones, expecting to secure advantages through them. It is seeking their good will by indulgence, that we may be held in greater estimation than others fully as worthy as ourselves. It is a hard thing to see one’s own errors, but everyone should realize how cruel is the spirit of envy, rivalry, distrust, faultfinding, and dissension.
We call God our Father; we claim to be children of one family, and when there is a disposition to lessen the respect and influence of another to build up ourselves, we please the enemy and grieve Him whom we profess to follow. The tenderness and mercy that Jesus has revealed in His own precious life should be an example to us of the manner in which we should treat our fellow beings and especially those who are our brethren in Christ.
God is continually benefiting us, but we are too indifferent to His favors. We have been loved with an infinite tenderness, and yet many of us have little love for one another. We are too severe upon those we suppose to be in error, and are very sensitive to the least blame or question in regard to our own course.
Hints are thrown out and sharp criticisms of one another, but at the same time the very ones who throw out these hints and criticisms are blind to their own failings. Others can see their errors, but they cannot see their own mistakes. We are daily recipients of the bounties of heaven and should have loving gratitude springing up in our hearts to God, which should cause us to sympathize with our neighbors and make their interests our own. Thoughts and meditations upon the goodness of God to us would close the avenues of the soul to Satan’s suggestions.
God’s love for us is proved daily; yet we are thoughtless of His favors and indifferent to His entreaties. He seeks to impress us with His Spirit of tenderness, His love and forbearance; but we scarcely recognize the marks of His kindness and have little sense of the lesson of love He desires us to learn. Some, like Haman, forget all God’s favors, because Mordecai is before them and is not disgraced; because their hearts are filled with enmity and hatred rather than love, the spirit of our dear Redeemer, who gave His precious life for His enemies. We profess to have the same Father, to be bound for the same immortal home, to enjoy the same solemn faith, and to believe the same testing message; and yet many are at strife with one another like quarrelsome children. Some who are engaged in the same branch of the work are at variance with one another and therefore at variance with the Spirit of Christ.
The love of praise has corrupted many hearts. Those who have been connected with the Health Institute have at times manifested a spirit of finding fault with the plans laid, and Satan has given them a hold upon the minds of others there who have accepted these persons as blameless while innocent persons have been charged with wrong. It is a wicked pride that delights in the vanity of one’s own works, that boasts of one’s excellent qualities, seeking to make others seem inferior in order to exalt self, claiming more glory than the cold heart is willing to give to God. The disciples of Christ will heed the Master’s instruction. He has bidden us love one another even as He has loved us. Religion is founded upon love to God, which also leads us to love one another. It is full of gratitude, humility, long-suffering. It is self-sacrificing, forbearing, merciful, and forgiving. It sanctifies the whole life and extends its influence over others.
Those who love God cannot harbor hatred or envy. When the heavenly principle of eternal love fills the heart, it will flow out to others, not merely because favors are received of them, but because love is the principle of action and modifies the character, governs the impulses, controls the passions, subdues enmity, and elevates and ennobles the affections. This love is not contracted so as merely to include “me and mine,” but is as broad as the world and as high as heaven, and is in harmony with that of the angel workers. This love cherished in the soul sweetens the entire life and sheds a refining influence on all around. Possessing it, we cannot but be happy, let fortune smile or frown. If we love God with all the heart, we must love His children also. This love is the spirit of God. It is the heavenly adorning that gives true nobility and dignity to the soul and assimilates our lives to that of the Master. No matter how many good qualities we may have, however honorable and refined we may consider ourselves, if the soul is not baptized with the heavenly grace of love to God and one another, we are deficient in true goodness and unfit for heaven, where all is love and unity.
Some who have formerly loved God and lived in the daily enjoyment of His favor are now in continual unrest. They wander in darkness and despairing gloom because they are nourishing self. They are seeking so hard to favor themselves that all other considerations are swallowed up in this. God in His providence has willed that no one can secure happiness by living for himself alone. The joy of our Lord consisted in enduring toil and shame for others, that they might be benefited thereby. We are capable of being happy in following His example and living to bless our fellow men.
We are invited by our Lord to take His yoke and bear His burden. In doing this we may be happy. In bearing our own self-imposed yoke and carrying our own burdens, we find no rest; but in bearing the yoke of Christ there is rest to the soul. Those who want some great work to do for the Master can find it just where they are, in doing good and in being self-forgetful and self-sacrificing, remembering others and carrying sunshine wherever they go.
There is great need that the pitying tenderness of Christ should be manifested at all times and in all places—not that blind sympathy which would gloss over sin and allow God’s cause to be reproached by ill-doing, but that love which is a controlling principle of the life, which flows out naturally to others in good works, remembering that Christ has said: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.”
Those at the Health Institute are engaged in a great work. During the life of Christ the sick and afflicted were objects of His special care. When He sent out His disciples He commissioned them to heal the sick as well as to preach the gospel. When He sent forth the seventy He commanded them to heal the sick, and next to preach that the kingdom of God had come nigh unto them. Their physical health was to be first cared for, in order that the way might be prepared for their minds to be reached by those truths which the apostles were to preach.
The Saviour of the world devoted more time and labor to healing the afflicted of their maladies than to preaching. His last injunction to His apostles, His representatives upon the earth, was to lay hands on the sick that they might recover. When the Master shall come, He will commend those who have visited the sick and relieved the necessities of the afflicted.
We are slow to learn the mighty influence of trifles and their bearing upon the salvation of souls. At the Health Institute those who desire to be missionaries have a large field in which to work. God does not mean that any of us shall constitute a privileged few, who shall be looked upon with great deference while others are neglected. Jesus was the Majesty of heaven; yet He stooped to minister to the humblest, having no respect to persons or station.
Those who have their whole hearts in the work will find at the Health Institute enough to do for the Master in relieving the suffering ones placed under their care. Our Lord, after performing the most humiliating office for His disciples, recommended them to follow His example. This was to keep constantly before them the thought that they must not feel superior to the lowliest saint.
Those who profess our exalted faith, who are keeping God’s commandments and expecting the soon coming of our Lord, should be distinct and separate from the world around them, a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Among the peculiarities which should distinguish God’s people from the world in these last days, is their humility and meekness. “Learn of Me,” says Christ, “for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Here is the repose which so many crave and in vain spend time and money to obtain. Instead of being ambitious to be equal to another in honor and position, or perhaps even higher, we should seek to be the humble, faithful servants of Christ. This spirit of self-aggrandizement made contention among the apostles even while Christ was with them. They disputed who should be greatest among them. Jesus sat down and, calling the twelve, said unto them: If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.”
When the mother of two sons made a request that her sons should be especially favored, one sitting on the right hand and the other on the left in His kingdom, Jesus impressed upon them that the honor and glory of His kingdom was to be the reverse of the honor and glory of this world. Whoever would be great must be a humble minister unto others, and whoever would be chief must be a servant, even as the Son of God was a minister and servant unto the children of men.
Again, our Saviour taught His disciples not to be anxious for position and name. “Be not ye called Rabbi…. Neither be ye called masters…. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased.” Jesus cited the lawyer to the sacred law code given from Sinai: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself.” He told him that if he did this he should enter into life.
“Thy neighbor as thyself.” The question arises: “Who is my neighbor?” His reply is the parable of the good Samaritan, which teaches us that any human being who needs our sympathy and our kind offices is our neighbor. The suffering and destitute of all classes are our neighbors, and when their wants are brought to our knowledge, it is our duty to relieve them as far as possible. A principle is brought out in this parable that it would be well for the followers of Christ to adopt. First meet the temporal necessities of the needy and relieve their physical wants and sufferings, and you will then find an open avenue to the heart, where you may plant the good seeds of virtue and religion.
In order to be happy, we must strive to attain to that character which Christ exhibited. One marked peculiarity of Christ was His self-denial and benevolence. He came not to seek His own. He went about doing good, and this was His meat and drink. We may, by following the example of the Saviour, be in holy communion with Him, and by daily seeking to imitate His character and follow His example, we shall be a blessing to the world and shall secure for ourselves contentment here and an eternal reward hereafter.
—Testimonies for the Church, volume 4, pg 221-227