Painfully conscious of my own failure properly to represent my Saviour before men, I have asked so many times the question, "Who is qualified for this career?" Then I remember the words of the great apostle: "We are . . . with transparent motives, as commissioned by God, in God's presence and in communion with Christ, so we speak." 2 Cor. 2:17, -Weymouth's Translation.
How sad to see one who is supposed to be a "man of God," and to be commissioned by God to represent His own Son, careless in his dress and in his general appearance. His clothes may unavoidably be well worn, but they can always, when he appears in public, be clean and well pressed. "It is always right to be neat, and to be clad appropriately, in a manner becoming to your age and station in life."—"Testimonies." Vol. IV, p. 142. The minister can wear clean linen; he can carry a comb in his pocket and use it frequently; he can shave daily, and his shoes can be kept polished.
He can constantly wear a pleasant smile; he can extend to all with whom he may come in contact a genial, kindly greeting; he can make all feel perfectly at ease in his presence. The smile and the greeting should not be mechanical, but should come from a heart that is warmed by the love of God. To do this successfully, he must live in and breathe a heavenly atmosphere. There must be emitted from his life a divine fragrance of which he may be entirely unconscious but which others will recognize.
Such a life should have the background of a sweet Christian home. Its atmosphere should be made fragrant by unhurried family worship, Bible study, and intimate communion with God. The sweetest and most harmonious relationships should exist between all members of the family circle. From this sacred place the minister can go forth to his daily tasks carrying with him the very atmosphere of heaven.
In his relationship with others he will always be kind and courteous in word and in manner. The children will be attracted to him, as they were to his Master. He will carry with him everywhere a quiet, unassuming dignity that will banish fear, inspire supreme confidence, and command respect. All slang phrases and cheap, uncouth expressions will be eliminated from his vocabulary. His language will be such as not to offend his heavenly companions or grieve the Holy Spirit—his divine Teacher.
In the house of God the minister of Christ will recognize the presence of the Holy One, and his entire deportment will be in keeping with that of the angels about the throne. The deepest reverence will be revealed in his demeanor, in his attitude in the pulpit, his posture in prayer, in the use of the sacred form of expression in addressing the Deity, and in his use of God's Holy Book.
"Truly great men are invariably modest. Humility is a grace which sits naturally upon them as a garment. Those who have stored their minds with useful knowledge, and who possess genuine attainments and refinement, are the ones who will be most willing to admit the weakness of their own understanding. They are not self-confident nor boastful; but in view of the higher attainments to which they might rise in intellectual greatness, they seem to themselves to have just begun the ascent."—Id., pp. 338, 339.
In speaking of man's possibilities, this encouraging word is given by inspiration: "He may be enlightened by science, ennobled by virtue, and may progress in mental and moral dignity, until he reaches a perfection of intelligence and a purity of character but little lower than the perfection and purity of angels." —Id., p. 93.
Again I quote from the same authoritative source: "God's purposes have not been answered by men who have been intrusted with the most solemn truth ever given to man. He designs that we should rise higher and higher toward a state of perfection, seeing and realizing at every step the power and glory of God." —Id., p. 416. As we gaze upon the heights of excellence, of intellectual and moral dignity and power not yet attained, as we think of the disappointment of our Saviour because of our failure to fulfill His purposes for us, we are greatly humiliated, and with the psalmist we cry out, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, 0 God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God." Ps. 42:1, 2.
It is said of Moses, that intellectual and moral giant who still stands out on the world's horizon like Mt. Everest of the mighty Himalayan range: "He believed that God ruled his life in particular. He saw and acknowledged God in every detail of his life, and felt that he was under the eye of the All-seeing One, who weighs motives, who tries the heart. . . . Moses did not merely think of God; he saw Him. God was the constant vision before him; he never lost sight of His face."—Id., Vol. V, p. 652. "He had the love of Christ in his soul, which not only made him a man of dignity, but added the luster of the true Christian graces to the dignity of the man. . . . He was familiar with God."—Id., Vol. IV, p. 345.
If we are truly ministers of God, called of God to represent before the world the "only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth," we will never rest till we have acquired a dignity of bearing, a refinement of manner, a purity and perfection of speech and of language, a power of persuasion in our voice, that will be mighty factors in helping us to reach the standard of excellence that should rightfully be expected in every ambassador of Christ.
O, how we need in our lives these entrancingly beautiful Christian graces, flowing forth spontaneously like the perennial fountains that water the fruitful valleys! And, my brethren in the ministry, I am fully persuaded that through the merits of our Redeemer, through His continual intercession in our behalf, and by the effectual working of His mighty power through His personal representative—the Holy Spirit—all that Jesus was as our divine-human pattern, we too may be; all the help that He has promised in His blessed word He will give; all that men of God as representatives of our divine Lord have attained, we too may attain. But in order to reach this exalted standard, to achieve this glorious purpose, we must resolutely set our hearts to its attainment in the strength of the Mighty One. We must unceasingly persevere till we shall have reached the lofty heights of supreme excellence.
"The truth which we profess offers the highest encouragement to the most devoted self-denial and persevering effort that mortal energies can bestow. We should have the courage of heroes and the faith of martyrs."—Mrs. E. G. White, Brown Leaflets, No. 10.
Balboa, Canal Zone.