This recently released letter to a prominent Adventist minister and his wife was written by Ellen White in 1900. This minister had served the church as an editor and an administrator, but at the time the letter was written he was engaged in evangelism. We feel that this letter speaks to the needs of each Seventh-day Adventist minister today. —Editors.
It is three o'clock in the morning. I am sitting up in my bed and trying to write you a few words. There are things on my mind which trouble me. . . .
The Lord has given me a message for you. Ministers of the gospel must keep self in continual subjection to Christ. But in your present state of mind you are not subject to the will or control of God. Self, poor, sick self, is revealed on every hand. When self dies, the peace of Christ will take possession of the soul. As long as you are a minister of the gospel, you are under the most solemn obligation to God to be wise, not in your own conceit, but wise in the wisdom of God.
Every day hereditary tendencies to wrong will strive for the mastery. Every day you are to war against your objectionable traits of character, until there are left in you none of those things which need to be separated from you. Then you will think candidly and wisely how to take yourself to the Lord. You will fore see the evils which will come unless you change by avoiding the cause which produces the effect.
You need now to understand as never before the softening, subduing power of true, Christlike character. You need to understand the warfare in which we are engaged. The power of holy living is far ahead of all doctrinal discourses. . . .
We need now as never before to pray with heart and voice for the Spirit of Christ to use us in His service through the sanctification of the Spirit. We need to pray that we may by uniting with our fellow workers build up God's kingdom. We are never to be satisfied with self, but are ever to press upward, seeking to attain higher fervency and greater zeal. Our heart's greatest desire should be to be found among the meek and lowly people of God. Then we can find souls and win souls.
Those who minister in word and doctrine must first be partakers of the fruits of the spirit. Bear this in mind. Bridle your disposition, and then peace and contentment will find room in your soul. If you wish your heart to overflow with the love of God, cultivate grateful thanksgiving for the unspeakable privilege of knowing the truth. If you would lose sight of self by beholding Christ, you would be changed from glory to glory, from character to character, and would rejoice in His redeeming love.
We have no time for fretting over ourselves, no time to look on the dark side. There are souls to be saved. We must live in Christ and Christ must live in us, else we shall preach and labor in vain. Those who are brethren in the faith must stand together in oneness, striving to answer Christ's prayer to His Father. Let us stop fretting. Let us put away all jealousy, all evil-surmising. Let us put on Christ and walk in the light of the Sun of Righteousness. Preach the word. Practice the word. Then souls will be converted.
At present your spiritual condition is a stumbling block to your best efforts. We have the most sublime truths ever given to men. How are we handling them? In Christ, dead to self, open your mouth, and God will fill it. Christ will impress the minds of your hearers.
Cooperation with God means His co operation with us. Cooperation with our brethren gives standing room for every one who does the work. Cooperation is now greatly needed. Seek not for the highest place. If you do, you will be given the lowest place. Have courage in the Lord. But do not think that you are the only agent through whom He will work. For Christ's sake do your best, without speaking one ungrateful word to God or to your brethren. Then the Lord will bless you. We have not a moment to waste in regrets or recrimination.
Take not your troubles to man, who may have no greater wisdom than you yourself. Take your troubles to Him who hears and answers prayer. Labor, labor with this poor soul and that poor soul. Keep your head out of books and your hand from writing. Seek the salvation of those who are ready to perish. How earnestly should we be engaged in laboring for souls as they that must give an ac count.