Certainty!—Woe to the church that loses the note of certainty from its literature, its preaching, its conviction. The Lord cometh, and we know it! The cumulative evidences are inescapable. The converging testimony of the outline prophecies, coupled with the specified omens of the time, place the matter beyond conjecture. We follow not cunningly devised fables.
Discretion!—Discretion should characterize the utterances of representatives of this faith in this tense time of domestic transition among the nations. The interpretation of prophecies and the study of James 5 do not involve public criticism of national policies and provisions for recovery. The delicate touch is needed here, in which Christ is our perfect pattern. We have a heavenly message to give, a specific gospel to preach. Let us confine our activities to our great commission. A word to the wise is ample.
Envy!—Professional jealousy, so natural to the human heart, but so utterly at variance with the spirit of Christ, is ruinous to all who come under its spell. Jealousy, lest another receive credit for some of our achievements: fear, lest some rising star crowd us out of our place in the sun; envy, when another's fame is sung on the lips of the crowd,—these are the spiritual ulcers which, if not eradicated, gnaw at the vitals and cripple the life of all who do not overcome this weakness. "In honor preferring one another," is Heaven's mandate.
Artificial!—Artificial issues and fanciful crises played up to stimulate flagging zeal or to whip up a fresh interest, but based on hearsay and newspaper rumors that are usually later modified or denied, constitute an unworthy working platform for any laborer in this cause. The passing of time shows them to have been based on unjustifiable premises. They are successful, however, in drawing the spotlight at the moment. But the times are serious enough without exaggeration. The unquestioned facts that crowd upon us are startling enough without recourse to fiction, even if no moral principle were involved. Such a regrettable course will lead to serious discounting of all the utterances of the one pursuing such a policy. We should both eschew it personally, and frown upon it whenever it appears. Let us tell forth the message fearlessly and faithfully, but truthfully.
Distinction!—There is a fundamental difference between believing a statement in the Testimonies, and accepting some one's arbitrary interpretation of it. We unhesitatingly accept the Spirit of prophecy statement as true, but we do not thereby necessarily concede the correctness of construction placed upon it by the user. Read apart from the context, or without knowledge of the circumstances and the related declarations of the Spirit of prophecy upon the same theme, the isolated expression might seem to support the interpreter's view; but read in the light of perhaps a dozen other messages on the same subject, the seeming implication of the isolated expression may be materially modified. In difficult or complicated questions, all that has been written on a given point needs to be assembled and correlated before a sound conclusion can be drawn as to the intent of any unusual statement. We are not thereby doubting the Testimonies in the least because we decline to walk into some one's arbitrary "Do you believe it or not?" trap, or to follow his shallow study and unsafe conclusions.
Nullification!—Woe to the minister who projects doubt and suspicion into his congregation concerning our appointed leadership. He will surely reap in his own life what he has sown for others. But that is not all. He will be held accountable by his God for weakening the faith, scattering the effort, and retarding the work of the Lord. Lack of confidence in our leaders cuts the missionary nerve of the church, throttles the flow of means, breaks down the morale of the body, and in fact neutralizes the very efforts of the agitator.
Intact!—We should refrain from asserting that not one of our missionaries has been recalled because of present shortage of funds due to general economic stress. Some have been returned by the divisions in an endeavor to balance their budgets. Others have been retained in the home bases at the time of their furlough; but our lines are held intact. We are abandoning neither mission stations nor projects. Instead, the work of God is advancing, and soul winning is increasing in both mission and homeland. In some cases responsibilities have been redistributed. In other instances we are developing native laborers to fill the pioneering white missionary's place. And this is manifestly in the order of God. The development of an indigenous ministry, and a self-supporting, self-propagating native church is imperative to the finishing of our work, for the hour will come when the white missionary, as a foreigner, will not be permitted to continue his work in large sections of the world field. Note the word from the president of the General Conference, appearing on page 4.
L. E. F.