"He hath made My mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand hath He hid Me, and made Me a polished shaft; in His quiver hath He hid Me; and said unto Me, Thou art My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. . . . Is it a light thing that Thou shouldst be My-servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My salvation unto the ends of the earth."
His is the word of the Lord to those who are engaged in the ministry of His word. They are in His special service, and they are not to esteem this as a light thing. Proportionate to their position of trust should be their sense of responsibility and devotion. Cheap, common talk, and light, trifling behavior should not be tolerated. The'r highest desire should be to offer Christ perfect service. The object of preaching is not alone to convey information, not merely to convince the intellect. The preaching of the word should appeal to the intellect, and should impart knowledge, but it should do more than this. The words of the minister should reach the hearts of the hearers. . . . [See also "Testimonies to Ministers," pp. 318, 176.]
Read and study the fourth chapter of Zechariah. The two olive trees empty the golden oil out of themselves through the golden pipes into the golden bowl, from which the lamps of the sanctuary are fed. The golden oil represents the Holy Spirit. With this oil God's ministers are to be constantly supplied, that they, in turn, may impart it to the church. "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." God's servants can obtain victories only by inward purity, by cleanness of heart, by holiness.
It is of the utmost importance that ministers set a right example. If they follow lax, loose principles, their example is quoted by those who are doing wrong, as a vindication of their course. The whole synagogue of Satan is watching for defects in the lives of God's representatives, and the most is made of every defect.
Take heed lest by your example you place other souls in peril. It is a terrible thing to lose our own soul, but to pursue a course that will cause the loss of other souls is still more terrible. That our influence should be a savor of death unto death is a terrible thought, and yet it is possible. With what earnestness, then, we should guard our thoughts, our words, our habits, our dispositions. God calls for personal holiness. Only by revealing the character of Christ can we cooperate with Him in saving souls.
God's ministers cannot be too careful that their actions do not contradict their words. A consistent life alone will command respect. If our practice harmonizes with our teaching, our words will have effect ; but a piety that is not based upon practice is as salt without savor. It is of no use for us to strive to inculcate principles which we do not conscientiously practice.
Do not try to work in your own strength; for then the angels of God stand back, leaving you to carry on the warfare alone. Our preparation to meet opponents or to minister to the people must be obtained from the throne of grace. Here we see and acknowledge our own incompetence, and receive the divine efficiency. The Holy Spirit takes the things of God, and shows them to us, leading us into all truth, and giving us the faith that works by love and purifies the soul.
My brethren, in His great mercy and love God has given you great light, and Christ says to you, "Freely ye have received, freely give." Let the light bestowed on you shine forth to those in darkness. Let us rejoice and be glad that Christ has not only given us His word, but has given us also the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God, and that in His strength we may be more than conquerors.
Christ is saying, "Come unto Me. To Me belong right counsel and sound judgment. I have understanding and strength for you." By faith we must rest in Christ, remembering the words of one who was inspired of God to write, "Thy gentleness hath made me great."
Ask God to give you much of the oil of His grace. Carefully consider every word, whether it be written or spoken.
"Preach the Word ; be instant in season, out of season ; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."—Ellen G. White in Review and Herald, Dec. 22, 1904.