Steps to Christ
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 13: Rejoicing in the Lord
Christians are to reflect to the world the light shining upon them from Christ.
The children of God are called to be representatives
of Christ, showing forth the goodness and
mercy of the Lord. As Jesus has revealed to us
the true character of the Father, so we are to reveal
Christ to a world that does not know His tender,
pitying love. "As Thou hast sent Me into the world,"
said Jesus, "even so have I also sent them into the
world." "I in them, and Thou in Me; . . . that the
world may know that Thou hast sent Me." John 17:
18, 23. The apostle Paul says to the disciples of Jesus,
"Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of
Christ," "known and read of all men." 2 Corinthians
3:3, 2. In every one of His children, Jesus sends a
letter to the world. If you are Christ's follower, He
sends in you a letter to the family, the village, the
street, where you live. Jesus, dwelling in you, desires
to speak to the hearts of those who are not acquainted
with Him. Perhaps they do not read the Bible, or do
not hear the voice that speaks to them in its pages;
they do not see the love of God through His works.
But if you are a true representative of Jesus, it may
be that through you they will be led to understand
something of His goodness and be won to love and
Christians are set as light bearers on the way to
heaven. They are to reflect to the world the light
shining upon them from Christ. Their life and
character should be such that through them others will get
a right conception of Christ and of His service. [p. 116]
If we do represent Christ, we shall make His
service appear attractive, as it really is. Christians
who gather up gloom and sadness to their souls, and
murmur and complain, are giving to others a false
representation of God and the Christian life. They
give the impression that God is not pleased to have
His children happy, and in this they bear false witness
against our heavenly Father.
Satan is exultant when he can lead the children
of God into unbelief and despondency. He delights
to see us mistrusting God, doubting His willingness
and power to save us. He loves to have us feel that
the Lord will do us harm by His providences. It is
the work of Satan to represent the Lord as lacking
in compassion and pity. He misstates the truth in
regard to Him. He fills the imagination with false
ideas concerning God; and instead of dwelling upon
the truth in regard to our heavenly Father, we too
often fix our minds upon the misrepresentations of
Satan and dishonor God by distrusting Him and
murmuring against Him. Satan ever seeks to make the
religious life one of gloom. He desires it to appear
toilsome and difficult; and when the Christian presents
in his own life this view of religion, he is, through
his unbelief, seconding the falsehood of Satan.
Many, walking along the path of life, dwell upon
their mistakes and failures and disappointments, and
their hearts are filled with grief and discouragement.
While I was in Europe, a sister who had been doing
this, and who was in deep distress, wrote to me, asking
for some word of encouragement. The night
after I had read her letter I dreamed that I was in
a garden, and one who seemed to be the owner of [p. 117] the garden was conducting me through its paths. I
was gathering the flowers and enjoying their
fragrance, when this sister, who had been walking by my
side, called my attention to some unsightly briers that
were impeding her way. There she was mourning
and grieving. She was not walking in the pathway,
following the guide, but was walking among the
briers and thorns. "Oh," she mourned, "is it not a
pity that this beautiful garden is spoiled with thorns?"
Then the guide said, "Let the thorns alone, for they
will only wound you. Gather the roses, the lilies,
and the pinks."
Have there not been some bright spots in your
experience? Have you not had some precious
seasons when your heart throbbed with joy in response
to the Spirit of God? When you look back into the
chapters of your life experience do you not find some
pleasant pages? Are not God's promises, like the
fragrant flowers, growing beside your path on every
hand? Will you not let their beauty and sweetness
fill your heart with joy?
The briers and thorns will only wound and grieve
you; and if you gather only these things, and present
them to others, are you not, besides slighting the
goodness of God yourself, preventing those around
you from walking in the path of life?
It is not wise to gather together all the unpleasant
recollections of a past life,—its iniquities and
disappointments,—to talk over them and mourn over them
until we are overwhelmed with discouragement. A
discouraged soul is filled with darkness, shutting out
the light of God from his own soul and casting a
shadow upon the pathway of others. [p. 118]
Thank God for the bright pictures which He has
presented to us. Let us group together the blessed
assurances of His love, that we may look upon them
continually: The Son of God leaving His Father's
throne, clothing His divinity with humanity, that He
might rescue man from the power of Satan; His
triumph in our behalf, opening heaven to men, revealing
to human vision the presence chamber where
the Deity unveils His glory; the fallen race uplifted
from the pit of ruin into which sin had plunged it,
and brought again into connection with the infinite
God, and having endured the divine test through faith
in our Redeemer, clothed in the righteousness of
Christ, and exalted to His throne—these are the
pictures which God would have us contemplate.
When we seem to doubt God's love and distrust
His promises we dishonor Him and grieve His Holy
Spirit. How would a mother feel if her children were
constantly complaining of her, just as though she did
not mean them well, when her whole life's effort had
been to forward their interests and to give them
comfort? Suppose they should doubt her love; it would
break her heart. How would any parent feel to be
thus treated by his children? And how can our heavenly
Father regard us when we distrust His love,
which has led Him to give His only-begotten Son that
we might have life? The apostle writes, "He that
spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us
all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all
things?" Romans 8:32. And yet how many, by their
actions, if not in word, are saying, "The Lord does [p. 119] not mean this for me. Perhaps He loves others, but
He does not love me."
All this is harming your own soul; for every word
of doubt you utter is inviting Satan's temptations; it
is strengthening in you the tendency to doubt, and it
is grieving from you the ministering angels. When
Satan tempts you, breathe not a word of doubt or
darkness. If you choose to open the door to his
suggestions, your mind will be filled with distrust and
rebellious questioning. If you talk out your feelings,
every doubt you express not only reacts upon yourself,
but it is a seed that will germinate and bear fruit in
the life of others, and it may be impossible to
counteract the influence of your words. You yourself may
be able to recover from the season of temptation and
from the snare of Satan, but others who have been
swayed by your influence may not be able to escape
from the unbelief you have suggested. How important
that we speak only those things that will give
spiritual strength and life!
Angels are listening to hear what kind of report
you are bearing to the world about your heavenly
Master. Let your conversation be of Him who liveth
to make intercession for you before the Father. When
you take the hand of a friend, let praise to God be on
your lips and in your heart. This will attract his
thoughts to Jesus.
All have trials; griefs hard to bear, temptations
hard to resist. Do not tell your troubles to your
fellow mortals, but carry everything to God in prayer.
Make it a rule never to utter one word of doubt or
discouragement. You can do much to brighten the [p. 120] life of others and strengthen their efforts, by words
of hope and holy cheer.
There is many a brave soul sorely pressed by
temptation, almost ready to faint in the conflict with
self and with the powers of evil. Do not discourage
such a one in his hard struggle. Cheer him with
brave, hopeful words that shall urge him on his way.
Thus the light of Christ may shine from you. "None
of us liveth to himself." Romans 14:7. By our
unconscious influence others may be encouraged and
strengthened, or they may be discouraged, and
repelled from Christ and the truth.
There are many who have an erroneous idea of
the life and character of Christ. They think that He
was devoid of warmth and sunniness, that He was
stern, severe, and joyless. In many cases the whole
religious experience is colored by these gloomy views.
It is often said that Jesus wept, but that He was
never known to smile. Our Saviour was indeed a
Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief, for He
opened His heart to all the woes of men. But though
His life was self-denying and shadowed with pain
and care, His spirit was not crushed. His countenance
did not wear an expression of grief and repining,
but ever one of peaceful serenity. His heart was
a wellspring of life, and wherever He went He carried
rest and peace, joy and gladness.
Our Saviour was deeply serious and intensely in
earnest, but never gloomy or morose. The life of
those who imitate Him will be full of earnest
purpose; they will have a deep sense of personal
responsibility. Levity will be repressed; there will be no [p. 121] boisterous merriment, no rude jesting; but the religion
of Jesus gives peace like a river. It does not
quench the light of joy; it does not restrain
cheerfulness nor cloud the sunny, smiling face. Christ
came not to be ministered unto but to minister; and
when His love reigns in the heart, we shall follow
If we keep uppermost in our minds the unkind
and unjust acts of others we shall find it impossible
to love them as Christ has loved us; but if our thoughts
dwell upon the wondrous love and pity of Christ for
us, the same spirit will flow out to others. We should
love and respect one another, notwithstanding the
faults and imperfections that we cannot help seeing.
Humility and self-distrust should be cultivated, and a
patient tenderness with the faults of others. This will
kill out all narrowing selfishness and make us large-hearted and
The psalmist says, "Trust in the Lord, and do
good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou
shalt be fed." Psalm 37:3. "Trust in the Lord." Each
day has its burdens, its cares and perplexities; and
when we meet how ready we are to talk of our difficulties
and trials. So many borrowed troubles intrude,
so many fears are indulged, such a weight of anxiety
is expressed, that one might suppose we had no pitying,
loving Saviour ready to hear all our requests and
to be to us a present help in every time of need.
Some are always fearing, and borrowing trouble.
Every day they are surrounded with the tokens of
God's love; every day they are enjoying the bounties
of His providence; but they overlook these present [p. 122] blessings. Their minds are continually dwelling upon
something disagreeable which they fear may come;
or some difficulty may really exist which, though
small, blinds their eyes to the many things that
demand gratitude. The difficulties they encounter,
instead of driving them to God, the only source of
their help, separate them from Him because they
awaken unrest and repining.
Do we well to be thus unbelieving? Why should
we be ungrateful and distrustful? Jesus is our friend;
all heaven is interested in our welfare. We should
not allow the perplexities and worries of everyday
life to fret the mind and cloud the brow. If we do
we shall always have something to vex and annoy.
We should not indulge a solicitude that only frets
and wears us, but does not help us to bear trials.
You may be perplexed in business; your prospects
may grow darker and darker, and you may be threatened
with loss; but do not become discouraged; cast
your care upon God, and remain calm and cheerful.
Pray for wisdom to manage your affairs with discretion,
and thus prevent loss and disaster. Do all you
can on your part to bring about favorable results.
Jesus has promised His aid, but not apart from our
effort. When, relying upon our Helper, you have
done all you can, accept the result cheerfully.
It is not the will of God that His people should
be weighed down with care. But our Lord does not
deceive us. He does not say to us, "Do not fear;
there are no dangers in your path." He knows there
are trials and dangers, and He deals with us plainly.
He does not propose to take His people out of a world
of sin and evil, but He points them to a never-failing [p. 123] refuge. His prayer for His disciples was, "I pray
not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world,
but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil."
"In the world," He says, "ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
John 17:15, 16:33.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Christ taught His
disciples precious lessons in regard to the necessity
of trusting in God. These lessons were designed to
encourage the children of God through all ages, and
they have come down to our time full of instruction
and comfort. The Saviour pointed His followers to
the birds of the air as they warbled their carols of
praise, unencumbered with thoughts of care, for "they
sow not, neither do they reap." And yet the great
Father provides for their needs. The Saviour asks,
"Are ye not much better than they?" Matthew 6:26.
The great Provider for man and beast opens His hand
and supplies all His creatures. The birds of the air
are not beneath His notice. He does not drop the food
into their bills, but He makes provision for their needs.
They must gather the grains He has scattered for
them. They must prepare the material for their little
nests. They must feed their young. They go forth
singing to their labor, for "your heavenly Father
feedeth them." And "are ye not much better than
they?" Are not you, as intelligent, spiritual worshipers,
of more value than the birds of the air? Will not
the Author of our being, the Preserver of our life, the
One who formed us in His own divine image, provide
for our necessities if we but trust in Him?
Christ pointed His disciples to the flowers of the [p. 124] field, growing in rich profusion and glowing in the
simple beauty which the heavenly Father had given
them, as an expression of His love to man. He said,
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow."
The beauty and simplicity of these natural flowers
far outrival the splendor of Solomon. The most
gorgeous attire produced by the skill of art cannot bear
comparison with the natural grace and radiant beauty
of the flowers of God's creation. Jesus asks, "If God
so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and
tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much
more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" Matthew 6:
28, 30. If God, the divine Artist, gives to the simple
flowers that perish in a day their delicate and varied
colors, how much greater care will He have for those
who are created in His own image? This lesson of
Christ's is a rebuke to the anxious thought, the
perplexity and doubt, of the faithless heart.
The Lord would have all His sons and daughters
happy, peaceful, and obedient. Jesus says, "My peace
I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto
you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it
be afraid." "These things have I spoken unto you,
that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy
might be full." John 14:27; 15:11.
Happiness that is sought from selfish motives, outside
of the path of duty, is ill-balanced, fitful, and
transitory; it passes away, and the soul is filled with
loneliness and sorrow; but there is joy and satisfaction
in the service of God; the Christian is not left
to walk in uncertain paths; he is not left to vain
regrets and disappointments. If we do not have the [p. 125] pleasures of this life we may still be joyful in looking
to the life beyond.
But even here Christians may have the joy of
communion with Christ; they may have the light of His
love, the perpetual comfort of His presence. Every
step in life may bring us closer to Jesus, may give us
a deeper experience of His love, and may bring us
one step nearer to the blessed home of peace. Then
let us not cast away our confidence, but have firm
assurance, firmer than ever before. "Hitherto hath
the Lord helped us," and He will help us to the end.
1 Samuel 7:12. Let us look to the monumental pillars,
reminders of what the Lord has done to comfort us
and to save us from the hand of the destroyer. Let
us keep fresh in our memory all the tender mercies
that God has shown us,—the tears He has wiped away,
the pains He has soothed, the anxieties removed, the
fears dispelled, the wants supplied, the blessings
bestowed,—thus strengthening ourselves for all that is
before us through the remainder of our pilgrimage.
We cannot but look forward to new perplexities
in the coming conflict, but we may look on what is
past as well as on what is to come, and say, "Hitherto
hath the Lord helped us." "As thy days, so shall thy
strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25. The trial will not
exceed the strength that shall be given us to bear it.
Then let us take up our work just where we find it,
believing that whatever may come, strength proportionate
to the trial will be given.
And by and by the gates of heaven will be thrown
open to admit God's children, and from the lips of
the King of glory the benediction will fall on their [p. 126] ears like richest music, "Come, ye blessed of My
Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from
the foundation of the world." Matthew 25:34.
Then the redeemed will be welcomed to the home
that Jesus is preparing for them. There their
companions will not be the vile of earth, liars, idolaters,
the impure, and unbelieving; but they will associate
with those who have overcome Satan and through
divine grace have formed perfect characters. Every
sinful tendency, every imperfection, that afflicts them
here has been removed by the blood of Christ, and
the excellence and brightness of His glory, far exceeding
the brightness of the sun, is imparted to them.
And the moral beauty, the perfection of His character,
shines through them, in worth far exceeding this
outward splendor. They are without fault before
the great white throne, sharing the dignity and the
privileges of the angels.
In view of the glorious inheritance that may be
his, "what shall a man give in exchange for his
soul?" Matthew 16:26. He may be poor, yet he
possesses in himself a wealth and dignity that the world
could never bestow. The soul redeemed and cleansed
from sin, with all its noble powers dedicated to the
service of God, is of surpassing worth; and there is joy
in heaven in the presence of God and the holy angels
over one soul redeemed, a joy that is expressed in
songs of holy triumph.