1. WATCHING OUR BEHAVIOR
a. Name one characteristic of charity, as far as general behavior is concerned. 1 Corinthians 13:5 (first part).
b. Give a few examples of unseemly behavior that we should recognize as a warning. Galatians 2:11–13; James 2:1–4, 8, 9.
c. How is the Christian steward warned against another common type of unseemly behavior? Proverbs 14:29; 18:23 (second part).
“One class have come up without self-control; they have not bridled the temper or the tongue; and some of these claim to be Christ’s followers, but they are not. Jesus has set them no such example. When they have the meekness and lowliness of the Saviour, they will not act out the promptings of the natural heart, for this is of Satan. Some are nervous, and if they begin to lose self-control in word or spirit under provocation, they are as much intoxicated with wrath as the inebriate is with liquor. They are unreasonable and not easily persuaded or convinced. They are not sane; Satan for the time has full control. Every one of these exhibitions of wrath weakens the nervous system and the moral powers, and makes it difficult to restrain anger on another provocation. With this class there is only one remedy—positive self-control under all circumstances.”—The Youth’s Instructor, November 10, 1886.
2. CHARITABLE PRUDENCE
a. How are we exhorted to develop a Christlike demeanor, especially toward those who may provoke us unjustly? James 1:19–21; Proverbs 15:1; 19:11.
“[Christ] was wrongfully accused, yet He opened not His mouth to justify Himself. How many now, when accused of that of which they are not guilty, feel that there is a time when forbearance ceases to be a virtue, and losing their temper, speak words which grieve the Holy Spirit.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 4, p. 1148.
“If pride and selfishness were laid aside, five minutes would remove most difficulties. Angels have been grieved and God displeased by the hours which have been spent in justifying self.”—Early Writings, p. 119.
b. Give examples of how a Christian steward might display charitable prudence. Acts 9:36–39.
“At Joppa, which was near Lydda, there lived a woman named Dorcas, whose good deeds had made her greatly beloved. She was a worthy disciple of Jesus, and her life was filled with acts of kindness. She knew who needed comfortable clothing and who needed sympathy, and she freely ministered to the poor and the sorrowful. Her skillful fingers were more active than her tongue.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 131.
“Preaching is a small part of the work to be done for the salvation of souls. God’s Spirit convicts sinners of the truth, and He places them in the arms of the church. The ministers may do their part, but they can never perform the work that the church should do. God requires His church to nurse those who are young in faith and experience, to go to them, not for the purpose of gossiping with them, but to pray, to speak unto them words that are ‘like apples of gold in pictures of silver’ [Proverbs 25:11]. . . .
“It is the duty of God’s children to be missionaries for Him, to become acquainted with those who need help. If one is staggering under temptation, his case should be taken up carefully and managed wisely; for his eternal interest is at stake, and the words and acts of those laboring for him may be a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 69.
3. SELFLESS LOVE: A REMEDY AGAINST “SELF”
a. When does true love for others become rare—and how is this problem to be overcome? Matthew 24:12; Revelation 2:2–4; Hebrews 12:2–4.
“The love of God has been waning in the church, and as a result, the love of self has sprung up into new activity. With the loss of love for God there has come the loss of love for the brethren.”—The Review and Herald, March 20, 1894.
“Let this life, so stormy with conflicts and worries, be brought into connection with Christ, and then self will no longer clamor for the supremacy.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 3, p. 1161.
“Pride and self-worship cannot flourish in the soul that keeps fresh in memory the scenes of Calvary.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 661.
b. What is a great reason that makes the Christian steward shine in this world? 1 Corinthians 10:24.
“Unselfishness, the principle of God’s kingdom, is the principle that Satan hates; its very existence he denies. From the beginning of the great controversy he has endeavored to prove God’s principles of action to be selfish, and he deals in the same way with all who serve God. To disprove Satan’s claim is the work of Christ and of all who bear His name.
“It was to give in His own life an illustration of unselfishness that Jesus came in the form of humanity. And all who accept this principle are to be workers together with Him in demonstrating it in practical life. To choose the right because it is right; to stand for truth at the cost of suffering and sacrifice—‘this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord’ (Isaiah 54:17).”—Education, pp. 154, 155.
“In heaven none will think of self, nor seek their own pleasure; but all, from pure, genuine love, will seek the happiness of the heavenly beings around them. If we wish to enjoy heavenly society in the earth made new, we must be governed by heavenly principles here.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 132, 133.
4. PRIORITIZING WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT
a. What should the Christian steward consider in choosing priorities? 1 John 2:15–17.
“If all the money that is used extravagantly, for needless things, were placed in the treasury of God, we should see men and women and youth giving themselves to Jesus, and doing their part to cooperate with Christ and angels. The richest blessing of God would come into our churches, and many souls would be converted to the truth.”—The Review and Herald, December 23, 1890.
“When the cases of all come in review before God, the question, What did they profess? will not be asked, but, What have they done? Have they been doers of the word? Have they lived for themselves, or have they been exercised in works of benevolence, in deeds of kindness and love, preferring others before themselves, and denying themselves that they might bless others? . . . Christ has been grieved and wounded by your marked selfish love and your indifference to the woes and needs of others.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 525.
“If all who profess to be followers of Christ were truly sanctified, their means, instead of being spent for needless and even hurtful indulgences, would be turned into the Lord’s treasury, and Christians would set an example of temperance, self-denial, and self-sacrifice. Then they would be the light of the world.”—The Great Controversy, p. 475.
b. As stewards in the last days, what attitudes should we avoid—or, on the other hand, adopt? Isaiah 58:2–4, 10–12; Proverbs 21:3.
“In our work we shall find a high profession of piety and much outward exactness bond up with great inward wickedness. The people represented in Isaiah 58 complain that the Lord allows their services to go unnoticed. This complaint is the expression of hearts unsubdued by grace, rebellious against the truth.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 4, pp. 1148, 1149.
“Many receive applause for virtues which they do not possess. The Searcher of hearts weighs the motives, and often deeds highly applauded by men are recorded by Him as springing from selfishness and base hypocrisy. Every act of our lives, whether excellent and praiseworthy, or deserving of censure, is judged by the Searcher of hearts according to the motives which prompted it.”—Gospel Workers, p. 275.
5. FOLLOWING CHRIST IN SELF-DENIAL
a. What principle is basic to genuine Christian service? Acts 20:35.
“There is a work to be done in our cities—work to be done in every place. God will take men from the plow, from the sheepfold, from the vineyard, and will put them in the place of those who think that they must have the highest wages. Those who grasp for high wages will find in the money they get all the reward they will ever receive. Such ones cannot be expected to feel a burden for the salvation of perishing souls. The Lord cannot use such ones in His work. Until they banish selfishness from their hearts, their efforts are worthless.”—The Review and Herald, December 15, 1904.
“The heavenly intelligences can cooperate with him who is seeking, not to exalt self, but to save souls.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 436.
b. What should inspire the Christian steward with pure, fresh motivation for service? 2 Corinthians 8:8, 9.
“Jesus left His home in glory, clothed His divinity with humanity, and came to a world marred and polluted by the curse of sin. He might have remained in His heavenly home, and received the adoration of angels; but He came to earth to seek and save the lost, the perishing. ‘For your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich’ [2 Corinthians 8:9]. He, the Majesty of heaven, who was one with the Father, denied Himself, made every possible sacrifice, in order that man might not perish, but have everlasting life. Christ lived not to please Himself. If He had pleased Himself, where would we be today?”—The Review and Herald, December 23, 1890.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How might I be guilty of behaving unseemly?
2. What can we learn about charity from Christ and His followers?
3. How is a vibrant love for Christ to be manifested in us?
4. Why must we always examine our own priorities and motives?
5. What should we do to more fervently promote God’s work?