1. DEVELOPING NOBLE QUALITIES
a. What should characterize our attitude toward everyone—and what can help us consistently maintain such an attitude? 1 Thessalonians 5:14, 15, 23; 1 Corinthians 9:25.
b. How is advancement seen in the life of the Christian steward, and by what means is this gained? Colossians 3:8–10, 13; James 3:17, 18.
“When you have little difficulties to bear which seem hard, think of Jesus the dear Saviour, how He suffered and endured to save sinful mortals.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, p. 124.
“You will be misunderstood. Leave with God the wrongs which you think exist. Be easily entreated, and be not easily provoked. Do not speak angry words because of something you have heard. This hurts your influence. May the grace of God help you to have patience.”—Ibid., vol.19, p. 149.
“We must cherish love, not that which is falsely called charity, which would lead us to love sin and cherish sinners, but Bible charity and Bible wisdom, that is first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 558.
2. HOME AND COMMUNITY STEWARDS
a. What principles must be combined in the training of our children? Psalm 85:10.
“Disobedience and rebellion must be punished; but remember that the punishment is to be given in the spirit of Christ. Require obedience, never with a storm of angry words, but firmly and kindly. And when called upon to discipline your child, remember your own relation to your heavenly Father. Have you walked perfectly before Him? Are you not wayward and disobedient? Do you not grieve Him continually? But does He deal with you in anger? Remember, too, that it is from you that your children have received their tendencies to wrong. Remember how often you act like grown-up children. In spite of your years of Christian experience, in spite of your many opportunities for self-discipline, how easily you are provoked to anger. Deal gently, then, with your children, remembering that they have not had the opportunities you have had to gain self-control.”—The Review and Herald, July 8, 1902.
b. What way of acting gives credibility and life to our missionary efforts in the community? Luke 6:28–30.
“In all our associations with unbelievers, be careful to give them no occasion to misjudge your faith, or to reproach the cause of truth which you advocate. Many hedge up the way by their own course of action. There is some indiscretion on their part. They are easily provoked. Little difficulties arise in trade or in some other temporal matter, which lead them to think themselves misjudged or wronged by their neighbors. These things are allowed to create coldness or ill feeling, and thus to close the door of access to those who might be reached by the truth. We should never allow matters of temporal interest to quench our love for souls. Brethren, be kind and courteous on all occasions. Never be sharp, critical, or exacting in your deal. If there is any advantage to be gained, give it to your neighbor, whom you are required to love as you love yourself. With the patience and love of Jesus, watch for opportunities to do him a kindness. Let him see that the religion which we profess does not close up nor freeze over the avenues of the soul, making us unsympathizing and exacting.”—Ibid., May 22, 1888.
3. EXERCISING CHARITY
a. How does bitterness toward our brethren or sisters affect our standing before the world? Hebrews 12:15.
“ ‘A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another: as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another’ [John 13:34, 35]. These words are not the words of man, but the words of our Redeemer; and how important it is that we fulfill the instruction that He has given! There is nothing that can so weaken the influence of the church, as the lack of love. Christ says, ‘Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves’ [Matthew 10:16]. If we are to meet opposition from our enemies, who are represented as wolves, let us be careful that we do not manifest the same spirit among ourselves. The enemy well knows that if we do not have love one for another, he can gain his object, and wound and weaken the church, by causing differences among brethren. He can lead them to surmise evil, to speak evil, to accuse, condemn, and hate one another. In this way the cause of God is brought into dishonor, the name of Christ is reproached, and untold harm is done to the souls of men.”—The Review and Herald, June 5, 1888.
b. What will happen as we daily cultivate charity? Matthew 12:35 (first part); Colossians 3:12–15.
“If you have love in your heart, you will seek to establish and build up your brother in the most holy faith. If a word is dropped that is detrimental to the character of your friend or brother, do not encourage this evilspeaking. It is the work of the enemy. Kindly remind the speaker that the word of God forbids that kind of conversation. We are to empty the heart of everything that defiles the soul temple, that Christ may dwell within. Our Redeemer has told us how we may reveal Him to the world. If we cherish His Spirit, if we manifest His love to others, if we guard one another’s interests, if we are kind, patient, forbearing, the world will have an evidence by the fruits we bear, that we are the children of God. It is the unity in the church that enables it to exert a conscious influence upon unbelievers and worldlings.”—Ibid.
4. A TYPICAL PROBLEM
a. Name one evil commonly found in the church. Leviticus 19:16 (first part); Jeremiah 20:10; Proverbs 16:17–20.
“Floating rumors are frequently the destroyers of unity among brethren. There are some who watch with open mind and ears to catch flying scandal. They gather up little incidents which may be trifling in themselves, but which are repeated and exaggerated until a man is made an offender for a word. Their motto seems to be, ‘Report, and we will report it.’ These tale bearers are doing the devil’s work with surprising fidelity, little knowing how offensive their course is to God. If they would spend half the energy and zeal that is given to this unholy work in examining their own hearts, they would find so much to do to cleanse their souls from impurity that they would have no time or disposition to criticize their brethren, and they would not fall under the power of this temptation. The door of the mind should be closed against ‘they say’ or ‘I have heard.’ Why should we not, instead of allowing jealousy or evil surmising to come into our hearts, go to our brethren, and, after frankly but kindly setting before them the things we have heard detrimental to their character and influence, pray with and for them?”—The Review and Herald, June 3, 1884.
b. How can we escape the gossip habit? Proverbs 14:15; 25:9, 10.
c. If we find that a brother or a sister is indeed guilty of some wrong, what is our personal duty? Galatians 6:1; James 5:19, 20.
“When we see errors in others, let us remember that we have faults graver, perhaps, in the sight of God, than the fault we condemn in our brother. Instead of publishing his defects, ask God to bless him, and to help him to overcome his error. Christ will approve of this spirit and action, and will open the way for you to speak a word of wisdom that will impart strength and help to him who is weak in the faith.”—Ibid., June 5, 1888.
5. LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR
a. What changes are seen when we are not easily provoked and think no evil (1 Corinthians 13:5)? Ephesians 4:23–25; 5:9–12.
“The person who cultivates the precious plant of love will be selfdenying in spirit, and will not yield self-control even under provocation. He will not impute wrong motives and evil intentions to others, but will feel deeply over sin when discovered in any of the disciples of Christ.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 123.
“Love is unsuspecting, ever placing the most favorable construction upon the motives and acts of others. Love will never needlessly expose the faults of others. It does not listen eagerly to unfavorable reports, but rather seeks to bring to mind some good qualities of the one defamed.”—Ibid., p.169.
b. How can the world see in our life a daily growth in Christ? Titus 2:7, 8, 11–14.
“Let each ask himself: Do I possess the grace of love? Have I learned to suffer long and to be kind? Talents, learning, and eloquence, without this heavenly attribute, will be as meaningless as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”—Ibid.
“While we cannot love and fellowship those who are the bitter enemies of Christ, we should cultivate that spirit of meekness and love that characterized our Master—a love that thinketh no evil and is not easily provoked.”—The Review and Herald, June 3, 1884.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Describe the reformation cited in Colossians 3:8–10, 13.
2. How can we better represent Christ in temporal matters?
3. How can we overcome the common problem plaguing many churches?
4. What is wrong with “they say” and “I have heard”?
5. Describe some ways by which stewardship of God’s love can be manifested in behalf of others.