MOTIVES!—What is the motivating principle in your decisions regarding a call, a move, a change, or a choice between two calls? Is it service, or self? Is it to fill the place of need, or to advance your own interests? Do you seek the hard or the easy place? Are you thinking of your own promotion and comfort, or the best interests of the cause? Are proximity to relatives and friends, good climate, congenial working conditions, better salary, prospects of easy success, strong support, or the assurance of advancement the determining factors? Christ chose the hard way. He left His Father and the congenial environment of heaven, holiness, and the adoration of the angelic hosts to come to the place of need. He lived under primitive conditions and felt the pinch of poverty. He labored amid hostility and misunderstanding. He toiled the hard way—on foot, without a settled abode, traveling most of the time away from home, seeking out the places of need. He had a work to do, a task to complete, a commission to carry through. Such was also the program of the apostolic band, the rugged Reformers, the intrepid missionaries, and our own pioneers. How will this work be finished—by making self foremost, or placing the cause and its advancement first? God calls us to endure hardness as good soldiers. Soldiers go where they are sent, deployed to the place of need by their officers. That is the way battles are won and a cause triumphs.
OFFICIOUSNESS!—Officiousness in the world is annoying, and reveals the petty caliber of the man who exhibits it. But it is to be expected in the world. Officiousness in the church, however, is utterly out of place, and shows a lack of the spirit and character of Christ. It is strange indeed that some, when given official position by their brethren, suddenly become officious. Instead of leading, they seek to drive. Instead of looking upon the post as a call to service, they begin to exercise lordship over God's people and God's workers. Instead of leading by example and good planning, they operate by directives. They rule by authority. Those under them fear to differ, or to cross them. Such forget the declaration of the Master, "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant." Christ led and inspired men; He did not drive them and show His authority. Christlikeness for us as leaders of the people and of other workers is to be seen in a life of selfless service. No barriers should be felt. All of us are brethren.
UNSEEMLY!—We have men among us who, despite their admitted ability and their unremitting service to the cause, have tongues that cut and sear. Sharp, sarcastic, biting words and thrusts at others remind one not of the Master but of His opposite. There is no Christlikeness in such speech and conduct. Some men may call it forthrightness. Instead, it is plain unrighteousness. Christ pronounced a woe upon those who offend His little ones. Self-complacency, coupled with a depreciation of the intelligence, the competence, and the devotion of others, must lie at the root of such derogation and castigation. A superiority complex, and perhaps an unregenerated spirit, can alone explain such unseemly attitudes. Hard work, long hours, and technical competence can never compensate for an ungodly tongue on the part of a worker. Each lashing neutralizes his good works and his influence in the eyes of the people and with his fellow workers as well. Christ's opinion on the point is on record. Let us cultivate kindness, considerateness, tolerance, and a recognition of the sincere service of others. A right spirit is to be desired above mere brilliance and dazzling achievement.
OPPORTUNITY!—Seventh-day Adventists were formerly known as the most hopeless pessimists in the world because of their insistence on an impending, catastrophic end of the age—forgetting our paralleling emphasis on the glorious new-earth reality to follow, with endless righteousness and peace for the saved. But now, within a few years, by the turn of events we have been thrust into a new and happier role. The doleful and dominant pessimism of virtually all world leaders—civic, social, scientific, military, and religious—now causes us to appear as perhaps the outstanding optimists of a world admittedly on the verge of ruin. This is because of our assuring message on deliverance through the Second Advent of Christ. We have the note of hope, the ray of cheer, the message of comfort that men need today. We have not changed, but the world has. That is because we have consistently based our message on the inspired prophecy of the Word; whereas they have been caught in the lure of the specious wishful thinking of religionists who had abandoned the Word for their theory of world betterment, and a kingdom of God established through human endeavor, without divine interposition. Let us ring out the message of God for today.
L. E. F.