At various times, and in different parts of the world, we have met Seventh-day Adventist workers who seemed glad because their successors were having no better success than they themselves had experienced when laboring in the same field. And we have met other workers who were sick with envy because others were meeting with better success than they themselves had had.
Whenever and wherever we find this spirit, it fills us with sorrow, for it reveals either a deplorable state of heart and mind, or a sad lack of understanding of the real purpose for which we have been chosen and sent forth to labor. The manifestation of such a spirit would indicate that the worker is more concerned about winning honor and glory for himself than in bringing honor and glory to God, and salvation to human souls. It also indicates that the one who cherishes this spirit is lacking in love and good will for his fellow workers.
Every worker for Christ needs first of all to possess the mind and spirit of his Master. He needs to have his heart overflowing with the love "that envieth not" and that "seeketh not her own." Workers who possess the mind of Him who called them to be His representatives and colaborers will "in lowliness of mind" esteem others "better than themselves." They will not "look" simply on their "own things," but "also on the things of others." They will have the spirit of "in honor preferring one another." Instead of rejoicing over their brother's failure, they will weep with him; and instead of begrudging him success, they will rejoice with him, even though his achievements be greater than their own.
John the Baptist set a noble example that we as workers do well to study and to follow. In his work he had enjoyed remarkable success. Tens of thousands had come to hear him preach, and multitudes had been baptized by him. Perhaps no religious leader before him had ever wielded such a mighty influence over the masses as did he. Day by day his influence and popularity increased. But before long, one of the very men whom he had baptized began to preach in the same wilderness. As the masses flocked to hear the new preacher, John saw his own audiences diminish. He felt his influence waning. Then one day, some came to him and said: "Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou bearest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to Him." What was his reaction? Did he show signs of irritation and disappointment? Did he reveal any spirit of envy and jealousy? No, not he. In beautiful language he expressed his unbounded joy and satisfaction over his Friend's success, and then humbly added, "He must increase, but I must decrease." 0 that God may be permitted to fill the heart of every minister and worker in this great cause with the same spirit!
We as workers must never forget that the one and all important purpose for which God has sent us into the world is to rescue perishing souls. For the accomplishment of this divine purpose we are unitedly to pray, sacrifice, and toil, and that without any thought of personal honor or aggrandizement.
If on a stormy day a group of men standing on the shores of a lake should see a boat loaded with acquaintances and friends suddenly capsize and sink, would they not all quickly plunge into the troubled waters and swim with all their might to rescue their perishing friends? And if one of these rescuers were a weaker or poorer swimmer than the others, would he become jealous because the others brought to shore two, five, or even ten to his one? No, indeed. His only concern then would be the saving of his shipwrecked friends. While doing his best to bring in as many as he could, he would also cheer on his more successful companions, and would rejoice that they were able to save many that he was unable to reach.
So with every true minister of Christ. With a burden for perishing souls, he will, with the help of God, do his utmost to rescue as many as possible before they go down to eternal death and destruction. If others engaged in the same noble work are able to rescue more than he, he will only cheer them on, and rejoice that they are able to gather in so many that he has not been able to reach.