~August 30, 2013~

The Graces of the Spirit

by Ellen G. White

The Review and Herald, December 21, 1886

     We are plainly told what are the fruits of the Spirit; and I ask, Who will be excused in the day of God? If the word of inspiration has told us the fruits of the Spirit, and made plain to us the very work to be done in order to cherish and cultivate the fruits of the Spirit, then, I say, who can be excused for cherishing evils that will hinder us from entering into the kingdom of God?
     Any one can be just what he chooses to be. Character is not obtained by receiving an education. Character is not obtained by amassing wealth, or by gaining worldly honor. Character is not obtained by trying to have others fight the battle of life for us. It must be sought, worked for, fought for; and it requires a purpose, a will, a determination. To form a character which God will approve, requires persevering effort. It will take a continual resisting of the powers of darkness to stand under the blood-stained banner of Prince Immanuel, to be approved in the day of Judgment, and have our names retained in the book of life. Is it not worth more to have our names registered in that book, have them immortalized among the heavenly angels, than to have them sounded in praise throughout the whole earth? Let me know that Jesus smiles upon me; let me know that he approves my actions and my course, and then let come what may, let afflictions be ever so great, I will be resigned to my lot and rejoice in the Lord.   
     The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering. Are you in a position where you do not possess these graces? Just as soon as any one crosses you, or offends you, does there arise in your heart a feeling of bitterness, a spirit of rebellion? If this is the spirit you have, bear in mind that you have not the spirit of Christ. It is another spirit. It is the Satan side of your character that is ruling rather than the spirit of Christ. We want a spirit of gentleness. We cannot live right in the family circle without it.
We cannot live right in the family circle without it.
In order to have the proper control of our children, we must manifest a spirit of gentleness and of meekness, and of long-suffering. We do not want to have a fault finding, fretful, scolding spirit. If we teach them to have a spirit of gentleness, we must have a spirit of gentleness ourselves; if we teach them to be long suffering, we must be long-suffering ourselves; and if we would have them manifest a spirit of love toward us, we must manifest a gentle, loving spirit toward them. But at the same time there need be no weakness or unwise indulgence on the part of parents. The mother must have firmness and decision. She must be as firm as a rock, and not swerve from the right. Her laws and rules should be carried out at all times and under all hazards; but she can do this with all gentleness and meekness. She should not be bitter and accusing; that only causes a spirit of opposition. She should be gentle, kind, meek, and long-suffering; but with this there should be firmness of principle. In a family disciplined and trained after this plan, there is a power in favor of Christianity. The children will grow up God-fearing men and women. But in a family where the opposite course is taken, even though the parents profess to be followers of Jesus, you will find the children going in the ways of the world. The powers of darkness are gaining a hold upon them, and they are passing right over into the hands of the enemy. And what influence does this have upon the outside world? Does it testify in favor of Christianity?--No, indeed. 
     Then we are to have godliness and faith. We are to believe in God and his promises, and in his power to help and save us. We must

We are to have godliness and faith.
believe him; for he is well able and more than willing to help us in time of trouble, to comfort us in times of affliction and distress, and to deliver us out of all our trials and difficulties. Troubles and difficulties will come, and we must confide in God. If our children do not do as we wish them, what course are we going to take in the matter? give them up because we see that they do not have the Spirit of God?--Never! it should only make them dearer to our hearts. We must come before God with them in our prayers. We must present them before the throne of God, and say, Lord, here are the children thou hast given me, and I cannot rest day nor night till thou hast brought them into the ark. I cannot enjoy it to be in the ark unless my children are there also.  
     When the children of Israel rebelled so that the Lord threatened to destroy them, did Moses give them up?--No, no; he pleaded for them. And when the Lord said, "Let me . . . destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a great nation," etc., Moses wished the Lord to blot his name out of the book also, if he could not forgive their sin. Thus he was willing to sacrifice his own eternal interests if God would spare the children of Israel. 
      How is it with you, fathers and mothers? Are you drinking in the things of this life, and forgetting the eternal interests of your children? or are you coming to the throne of grace, pleading and agonizing with God for his mercy and blessing upon your household? Do you plead with your children to come to Christ, and then go where there is no eye to see and no ear to hear, and there pour out your petitions before God for them? Why do you have your homes filled with unconsecrated children?--It is because there is no sense of the claims of God. It is because there is no sense that Christ has bought them, and they are his children. Christ says: "I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." How?--By the cultivation of the graces of the Spirit--love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith. We want the living faith that will grasp the strong arm of Jehovah. Christ said: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Here is the promise. Where is the faith to grasp the promise of God, and never give up until every child is gathered into the ark? 
     We should all have an interest in this matter of faith. There is not a soul that is not indebted to God. Christ died for all, that you might have the grace of the Spirit, that you might become conquerors, that you might have eternal life. And when the saints shall stand around the great white throne, where praise, and honor, and glory, and might, and power are ascribed to him, will one of these before me be missing? Is there one here who has not his eyes and affections fastened upon heaven? Are there any here who are not seeking for "those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God"? Have you been baptized with the baptism of Christ? Have you received these graces of the Spirit? Have you risen with Christ? Then "seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." 
It is no time to be discouraged now.

     Then we want piety. If piety was practiced daily, you would find that it would be a living testimony, burning its way to the hearts of the youth, and to all around you. Let your light shine. Have you the light? Have you kindled your fire from off the altar? Then let it shine forth in good works to those around you. Gather yourselves together, and by your divine influence and earnest efforts scatter the light. Let it be scattered upon those who are in error and in moral darkness among the world. There are those that need light, those that need help, those that need strength; and you are to let your light shine forth to them.  
     Every man, and every woman, and every child must be in earnest. It is no time to be discouraged now, for the evil one is pressing upon us harder than ever before, and we cannot afford to lose ground by going backward. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, we must rally for the right; and we must strive not to have our children taken right out of our arms, and out of our homes, to pass into the ranks of the enemy. We cannot afford it. We must work for God, and  we must work for heaven, with all the might and faith there is in us. Be not deceived by the temporary things of this life. Consider the things of eternal interest. I want a closer connection with God. I want to sing the song of redemption in the kingdom of glory. I want the crown of immortality to be placed upon my brow. With an immortal tongue I want to sing praises to Him who left glory, and came to earth to save those that were lost. I want to praise him. I want to magnify him. I want to glorify him. I want the immortal inheritance and the eternal substance. And what care I, I ask you, what care I for the things of the world, if I lose or if I gain heaven at last? Of what advantage will they be to me? But if I have a hold on Heaven, I can have a right hold on my fellow-men; I can have an influence that will constantly press against the tide of evil that there is in the world, and lead souls into the ark of safety.   
     We all need the graces of the Spirit of God in the heart. God help us to seek for this. Do not rest until you have received it. Break the chains of darkness asunder. Come where the living waters flow, and drink of salvation. Then, if Christ is in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life, you may water all that are around you, and bring others into the kingdom of God. God grant, oh, may God grant, that all these souls may be there. Christ has bought you; and you cannot afford to be lost. May you in God's strength make your calling and election sure.