We have no right to overtax either the mental or the physical powers so that we are easily excited and led to speak words which dishonour God. The Lord desires us to be always calm and forbearing. Whatever others may do, we are to represent Christ, doing as He would do under similar circumstances.
Every day one in a position of trust has decisions to make on which depend results of great importance. He has often to think rapidly, and this can be done successfully only by those who practise strict temperance. The mind strengthens under the correct treatment of the physical and the mental powers. If the strain is not too great, it acquires new vigour with every taxation.
None but a wholehearted Christian can be a true gentleman.
A neglect to conform in every particular to God's requirements means certain failure and loss to the wrongdoer. Failing to keep the way of the Lord, he robs his Maker of the service that is His due. This reacts upon himself; he fails of gaining that grace, that power, that force of character, which it is the privilege of each to receive who surrenders all to God. Living apart from Christ, he is exposed to temptation. He makes mistakes in his work for the Master. Untrue to principle in little things, he fails of doing God's will in things greater. He acts on the principles to which he has accustomed himself.
God cannot connect with those who live to please themselves, to make themselves first. Those who do this will in the end be last of all. The sin that is most
nearly hopeless and incurable is pride of opinion, self-conceit. This stands in the way of all growth. When a man has defects of character, yet fails of realising this; when he is so imbued with self-sufficiency that he cannot see his fault, how can he be cleansed? "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." Matthew 9:12. How can one improve when he thinks his ways perfect?
When one who is supposed to be led and taught by God turns out of the way, because of self-confidence, many follow his example. His false step may result in misleading thousands.
Consider the parable of the fig tree:
"A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Luke 13:6-9.
"Then after that." In these words there is a lesson for all who are connected with the work of God. A period of probation was granted to the tree that bore no fruit. And in like manner God bears long with His people. But of those who have had great advantages, and who are standing in positions of high and sacred trust, and yet bear no fruit, He says: "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?"
Let those connected with the Lord's special instrumentalities remember that He will call for fruit from His vineyard. Proportionate to the blessings bestowed
will be the returns required. Heavenly angels have visited and ministered in every place where God's institutions are established. Unfaithfulness in these institutions is a greater sin than it would be elsewhere, for it has a greater influence than it would elsewhere have. Unfaithfulness, injustice, dishonesty, conniving at wrong, obstruct the light which God designs shall shine forth from His instrumentalities.
The world is watching, ready to criticise with keenness and severity your words, your deportment, and your business transactions. Everyone who acts a part in connection with the work of God is watched, and is weighed by the scales of human discernment. Impressions, favourable or unfavourable to Bible religion, are constantly made on the minds of all with whom you have to do.
The world watches to see what fruit is borne by professed Christians. It has a right to look for self-denial and self-sacrifice from those who claim to believe advanced truth.
There have been, and will continue to be, among our workers those who do not feel their need of Jesus at every step. They think they cannot take time to pray and attend religious meetings. They have so much to do that they cannot find time to keep their souls in the love of God. When this is the case, Satan is on the ground to create vain imaginations.
Workers who are not diligent and faithful do incalculable harm. They set an example for others. In every institution there are some who are rendering wholehearted, cheerful service; but will not the leaven affect them? Shall the institution be left without some sincere examples of Christian fidelity? When men claiming to be representatives of Christ reveal that they are
unconverted, their characters gross, selfish, impure, they should be separated from the work.
The workers need to realise the sacredness of the trust with which the Lord has honoured them. Impulsive motives, fitful actions, must be put aside. Those who cannot distinguish between the sacred and the common are not safe stewards of high responsibilities. When tempted, they will betray their trust. Those who do not appreciate the privileges and opportunities of a connection with the work of God will not stand when the enemy presents his specious temptations. They are easily misled by selfish, ambitious projects. If, after the light has been presented to them, they still fail of distinguishing right from wrong, the sooner they are disconnected from the institution, the purer and more elevated will be the character of the work.
No one should be retained in any one of the Lord's institutions who in a crisis fails of realising that His instrumentalities are sacred. If workers have no relish for the truth; if their connection with the institution makes them no better, brings to them no love for the truth, then, after sufficient trial, separate them from the work; for their irreligion and unbelief influence others. Through them evil angels work to mislead those who are brought in as apprentices. You should obtain for apprentices those who are promising youth, those who love God. But if you place them in connection with others who have no love for God, they are in constant danger from the irreligious influence. The halfhearted and worldly, those who are given to gossip, who dwell on the faults of others, while neglecting their own, should be separated from the work.