a. Though we may profess to be rejoicing solely in God, what must we as Christian stewards realize? Proverbs 28:14.
“Bible charity is not sentimentalism, but love in active exercise. To heal the hurt of the daughter of My people, slightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace; when there is no peace’ (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11), is called charity. To confederate together, to call sin holiness and truth, is called charity; but it is the counterfeit article. The false and the spurious are in the world, and we should closely examine our hearts that we may know whether or not we possess the genuine charity. Genuine charity will not create distrust and evil work. It will not blunt the sword of the spirit so that it does no execution. Those who would cover evil under false charity, say to the sinner, ‘It shall be well with thee.’ Thank God there is a charity that will not be corrupted; there is a wisdom that cometh from above, that is (mark it) first pure, then peaceable, and without hypocrisy, and the fruits of righteousness is sown of them that make peace. This is a description of heaven-born, heaven-bred charity.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, p. 217.
b. What should characterize the daily experience of the Christian steward? Psalm 139:23, 24.
2. IMPROPER REJOICING (I)
a. How is the Christian steward to respond to iniquity? 1 Corinthians 13:6 (first part).
“Satan’s work is directly opposed to the work of God. The enemy of all good, he stands as the general of the forces drawn up to hurt the souls of men. He looks on with fiendish triumph as he sees the professed followers of Christ biting and devouring one another. He stands ever ready to mar the lives of those who are trying to serve God. Heavenly angels marvel that men should aid Satanic agencies in their work, discouraging hearts, making God’s people weak, strengthless, faithless.”—Spalding and Magan Collection, pp. 345, 346.
“If we would be overcomers, we must search our hearts to be sure that we are not cherishing anything that is offensive to God.”—Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, p. 138.
b. How does the Christian steward avoid rejoicing in evil? 1 Peter 5:8, 9.
“When we talk discouragement and gloom, Satan listens with fiendish joy; for it pleases him to know that he has brought you into his bondage. Satan cannot read our thoughts, but he can see our actions, hear our words; and from his long knowledge of the human family, he can shape his temptations to take advantage of our weak points of character. And how often do we let him into the secret of how he may obtain the victory over us. Oh, that we might control our words and actions! How strong we would become if our words were of such an order that we would not be ashamed to meet the record of them in the day of judgment. How different will they appear in the day of God from what they seem when we utter them.”—The Review and Herald, May 19, 1891.
c. What admonitions are to strengthen us against the temptations mentioned above? Psalm 141:3; Ephesians 4:29, 30.
“When you are associated together, be guarded in your words. Let your conversation be of such a nature that you will have no need of repentance.”—Ibid., June 5, 1888.
3. IMPROPER REJOICING (II)
a. How is the Christian steward warned against delighting in the sins and frailty of others? Ephesians 5:11, 12.
“While many are neglecting their own souls, they eagerly watch for an opportunity to criticize and condemn others. All have defects of character, and it is not hard to find something that jealousy can interpret to their injury. ‘Now,’ say these self-constituted judges, ‘we have facts. We will fasten upon them an accusation from which they cannot clear themselves.’ They wait for a fitting opportunity and then produce their bundle of gossip and bring forth their tidbits. . . .
“True Christians will not exult in exposing the faults and deficiencies of others. They will turn away from vileness and deformity, to fix the mind upon that which is attractive and lovely. To the Christian every act of faultfinding, every word of censure or condemnation, is painful.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 95, 96.
b. What are some examples of how the Christian steward must refrain from rejoicing in iniquity? Proverbs 24:17, 18.
“Instead of finding fault with others, let us be critical with ourselves. The question with each one of us should be, Is my heart right before God? Will this course of action glorify my Father which is in heaven? If you have cherished a wrong spirit, let it be banished from the soul. It is your duty to eradicate from your heart everything that is of a defiling nature; every root of bitterness should be plucked up, lest others be contaminated by its baleful influence. Do not allow one poisonous plant to remain in the soil of your heart. Root it out this very hour, and plant in its stead the plant of love. Let Jesus be enshrined in the soul.
“Christ is our example. He went about doing good. He lived to bless others. Love beautified and ennobled all His actions, and we are commanded to follow in His steps. Let us remember that God sent His only begotten Son to this world of sorrow, to ‘redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works’ [Titus 2:14]. Let us seek to comply with the requirement of God and fulfill His law. ‘Love is the fulfilling of the law’ [Romans 13:10], and He who died that we might live has given us this commandment, that we should love one another as He has loved us; and the world will know that we are His disciples, if we have this love one for another.”—The Review and Herald, June 5, 1888.
4. WITH OUR BRETHREN AND SISTERS
a. What teaching and experience of the early disciples is to be ours? James 5:16; Philippians 2:1, 2.
“We should be often in prayer. The outpouring of the Spirit of God came in answer to earnest prayer. . . . [The disciples] were not assembled to relate tidbits of scandal. They were not seeking to expose every stain they could find on a brother’s character. They felt their spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the holy unction to help them in overcoming their own infirmities, and to fit them for the work of saving others. They prayed with intense earnestness that the love of Christ might be shed abroad in their hearts. This is our great need today in every church in our land. For ‘if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new’ [2 Corinthians 5:17]. That which was objectionable in the character is purified from the soul by the love of Jesus. All selfishness is expelled, all envy, all evil-speaking, is rooted out, and a radical transformation is wrought in the heart.”—The Review and Herald, July 22, 1890.
b. What factors must all Christian stewards bear in mind in their interaction with those whom they profess to love? Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
“Let not the common, cheap, earthly things engross the mind that the presence of Jesus shall be withdrawn. The life of the church is communicated from Christ, and we help the church when we work in harmony with the life-giving power, losing sight of ourselves, and seeking to build one another up in the most holy faith.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, p. 265.
“There is a sympathy for sin and sinners that is dangerous to the prosperity of the church at the present day. You must have charity is the cry. But that sentiment that would excuse wrong and shield the guilty is not the charity of the Bible. The friendship of the wicked is more dangerous than their enmity; for none can prevail against the servants of the living God, except by tempting them to disobedience.
“The offensive character of sin can be estimated only in the light of the cross. When men urge that God is too merciful to punish the transgressors of His law, let them look to Calvary; let them realize that it was because Christ took upon Himself the guilt of the disobedient, and suffered in the sinners stead, that the sword of justice was awakened against the Son of God.”—The Signs of the Times, January 6, 1881.
5. PROPER REJOICING
a. How does the Christian steward reveal true charity? 1 Corinthians 13:6 (last part); Psalm 119:140–144, 172.
“ ‘You must have charity,’ is the cry heard everywhere, especially from those who profess sanctification. But true charity is too pure to cover an unconfessed sin. While we are to love the souls for whom Christ died, we are to make no compromise with evil. We are not to unite with the rebellious and call this charity.”—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 554, 555.
b. What is the ultimate goal of the Christian steward? 1 Corinthians 2:2.
“The years of eternity, as they roll, will bring richer and still more glorious revelations of God and of Christ. As knowledge is progressive, so will love, reverence, and happiness increase. The more men learn of God, the greater will be their admiration of His character. As Jesus opens before them the riches of redemption and the amazing achievements in the great controversy with Satan, the hearts of the ransomed thrill with more fervent devotion, and with more rapturous joy they sweep the harps of gold; and ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of voices unite to swell the mighty chorus of praise. . . .
“From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.”—The Great Controversy, p. 678.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why is self-examination a key in developing faithful stewardship?
2. When might we be perilously liable to please the enemy instead of pleasing Christ?
3. How might we be in danger of inwardly rejoicing in iniquity?
4. What are the symptoms of false charity?
5. How can the Christian steward manifest true charity?