1. OURSELVES AND OTHERS
a. What timeless appeal of Paul echoes down to our day? Galatians 5:25, 26.
“Those who are not spiritual often appear to have a zeal that far exceeds the zeal of the true children of God. This is because they are determined that their ways and their plans shall succeed. They say to themselves, I will put the whole force of my being into this plan, and I will work continually until I see it succeed. I will persist until I prevail. But all the religion that a man has is frequently found in this ambitious zeal which he thinks is after the Christlike order. Take away this, and nothing is left. They are like the Pharisees who tithed mint, and anise, and cummin, but neglected the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and the love of God.”—The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 1374, 1375.
“All who would learn of Christ must be emptied of human wisdom. The soul must be cleansed from all vanity and pride, and vacated by all that has held it in prepossession, and Christ must be enthroned in the heart. The constant strife in the soul that results from selfishness and self-sufficiency must be rebuked, and humility and meekness must take the place of our natural self-esteem.”—Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, pp. 271, 272.
2. LEARNING GOD’S WAY
a. What type of experience do nearly all face at times? Psalm 69:5, 16–19.
“Whatever your anxieties and trials, spread out your case before the Lord. Your spirit will be braced for endurance. The way will be opened for you to disentangle yourself from embarrassment and difficulty.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 329.
b. With that reality in mind, describe how we should proceed with regard to a person who has made a mistake. Galatians 6:1; Matthew 18:15.
“If you are grieved because your neighbors or friends are doing wrong to their own hurt, if they are overtaken in fault, follow the Bible rule. ‘Tell him his fault between thee and him alone’ [Matthew 18:15]. As you go to the one you suppose to be in error, see that you speak in a meek and lowly spirit; for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. The erring can be restored in no other way than in the spirit of meekness, gentleness, and tender love. Be careful in your manner. Avoid anything in look or gesture, word or tone, that savors of pride or self-sufficiency. Guard yourself against a word or look that would exalt yourself, or place your goodness and righteousness in contrast with their failings. Beware of the most distant approach to disdain, overbearing, or contempt. With care avoid every appearance of anger; and though you use plainness of speech, let there be no reproach, no railing accusation, no token of warmth but that of earnest love. Above all, let there be no shadow of hate or ill will, no bitterness or sourness of expression. Nothing but kindness and gentleness can flow from a heart of love. Yet all these precious fruits need not hinder you from speaking in the most serious, solemn manner, as though angels were directing their eyes upon you, and you were acting in reference to the coming judgment. Bear in mind that the success of reproof depends greatly upon the spirit in which it is given. Do not neglect earnest prayer that you may possess a lowly mind, and that angels of God may go before you to work upon the hearts you are trying to reach, and so soften them by heavenly impressions that your efforts may avail. If any good is accomplished, take no credit to yourself. God alone should be exalted. God alone has done it all.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 52, 53.
3. THE GOLDEN RULE OF SPEECH
a. What should help us resist the temptation to tell others about the faults of someone else? Luke 6:31; Proverbs 25:9.
“You have excused yourself for speaking evil of your brother or sister or neighbor to others before going to him and taking the steps which God has absolutely commanded. You say: ‘Why, I did not speak to anyone until I was so burdened that I could not refrain.’ What burdened you? Was it not a plain neglect of your own duty, of a thus saith the Lord? You were under the guilt of sin because you did not go and tell the offender his fault between you and him alone. If you did not do this, if you disobeyed God, how could you be otherwise than burdened unless your heart was hardened while you were trampling the command of God underfoot, and in your heart hating your brother or neighbor? And what way have you found to unburden yourself? God reproves you for a sin of omission in not telling your brother his fault, and you excuse and comfort yourself by a sin of commission by telling your brother’s faults to another person! Is this the right way to purchase ease—by committing sin?”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 53.
b. By approaching someone with their fault, how might that person react? Proverbs 14:16. Yet what is our duty regardless of the risk?
“Help those who have erred, by telling them of your experiences. Show how, when you made grave mistakes, patience, kindness, and helpfulness on the part of your fellow workers gave you courage and hope.”—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 494, 495.
“All your efforts to save the erring may be unavailing. They may repay you evil for good. They may be enraged rather than convinced. What if they hear to no good purpose, and pursue the evil course they have begun? This will frequently occur. Sometimes the mildest and tenderest reproof will have no good effect. In that case the blessing you wanted another to receive by pursuing a course of righteousness, ceasing to do evil and learning to do well, will return into your own bosom. If the erring persist in sin, treat them kindly, and leave them with your heavenly Father. You have delivered your soul; their sin no longer rests upon you; you are not now partaker of their sin.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 53, 54.
4. HUMBLED BY OUR OWN FRAILTY
a. Why must we overcome the culture of slander? Titus 3:2; James 4:11.
“Speak evil of no man. Hear evil of no man. If there be no hearers, there will be no speakers of evil. If anyone speaks evil in your presence, check him. Refuse to hear him, though his manner be ever so soft and his accents mild. He may profess attachment, and yet throw out covert hints and stab the character in the dark.
“Resolutely refuse to hear, though the whisperer complains of being burdened till he speak. Burdened indeed! with a cursed secret which separateth very friends. Go, burdened ones, and free yourselves from your burden in God’s appointed way. First go tell your brother his fault between you and him alone.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 54.
b. What happens only if the one at fault refuses to heed? Matthew 18:16, 17.
“If this fail, next take with you one or two friends, and tell him in their presence. If these steps fail, then tell it to the church. Not an unbeliever is to be made acquainted with the slightest particular of the matter. Telling it to the church is the last step to be taken. Publish it not to the enemies of our faith.”—Ibid.
c. Explain what can either make or break true restoration. Galatians 6:2, 3.
“Bear in mind that the work of restoring is to be our burden. This work is not to be done in a proud, officious, masterly way. Do not say, by your manner, ‘I have the power, and I will use it,’ and pour out accusations upon the erring one. . . . The work set before us to do for our brethren is not to cast them aside, not to press them into discouragement or despair by saying: ‘You have disappointed me, and I will not try to help you.’ He who sets himself up as full of wisdom and strength, and bears down upon one who is oppressed and distressed and longing for help, manifests the spirit of the Pharisee, and wraps himself about with the robe of his own self-constituted dignity. In his spirit he thanks God that he is not as other men are, and supposes that his course is praiseworthy and that he is too strong to be tempted. [Galatians 6:3 quoted.]”—Ibid., vol. 6, pp. 398, 399.
5. LEARNING DEEPER HUMILITY
a. How can we avoid spoiling our witness for Christ? Galatians 6:4, 5.
“One of the greatest curses in our world (and it is seen in churches and in society everywhere) is the love of supremacy. Men become absorbed in seeking to secure power and popularity. This spirit has manifested itself in the ranks of Sabbathkeepers, to our grief and shame. But spiritual success comes only to those who have learned meekness and lowliness in the school of Christ.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 397.
“He who considers himself superior in judgment and experience to his brethren and despises their counsel and admonition, evinces that he is in a dangerous delusion. The heart is deceitful. He should test his character and life by the Bible standard. . . . Every man must at last stand or fall for himself, not according to the opinion of the party that sustains or opposes him, not according to the judgment of any man, but according to his real character in the sight of God.”—Ibid., vol. 5, pp. 247, 248.
b. How can our influence bring real hope to others? Galatians 6:6–10.
“Until the judgment you will never know the influence of a kind, considerate course toward the inconsistent, the unreasonable, the unworthy. When we meet with ingratitude and betrayal of sacred trusts, we are roused to show our contempt or indignation. This the guilty expect; they are prepared for it. But kind forbearance takes them by surprise and often awakens their better impulses and arouses a longing for a nobler life.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 495.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What characteristic of Lucifer must be uprooted from every Christian?
2. Before thinking to correct someone else, what must I first consider?
3. Why can’t I take credit even if my words appear to help someone?
4. At what times may I have been guilty of aiding a culture of slander?
5. Why may have the most humbling times in my life been the best for me?