What does the word NOTHING mean?
Nothing: means not a single thing – zero, nil.
Often in religious study and discussions we come across the word “nothing” and some have not taken this word “nothing” in its literal sense. They have interpreted it to mean “moderation.”
For example, many Christians see nothing wrong with drinking alcoholic beverages as long as it is in moderation, but the Bible clearly states in Proverbs 23:31, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.” The word “not” is used here, but the meaning is clear that nothing, as far as alcoholic beverages are concerned, is to pass through our lips.
Many other counsels are given in the Bible, that are not fully heeded by Christians. In the Ten Commandments there are clear, “thou shalt not’s,” however some commandments are interpreted by citing situational ethics. Different situations and circumstances decide whether something is right or wrong. The most blatant one is killing. It is OK to kill in time of war, and the crimes go unpunished, but to do so outside the context of war is considered criminal. In some parts of the world such killing will bring about the death penalty to the murderer.
How do we, ourselves, interpret some of the counsels in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy where the word “nothing” is used? Are we in danger of changing these “nothing’s” into “moderations”?
For example, we can read in Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 180, “Nothing should be eaten between meals, no confectionery, nuts, fruits, or food of any kind.” Nothing – not even a crumb. While cooking, it is easy to take a taste occasionally, or to lick off the serving spoon. Nothing means nothing, zero. Why did God say “nothing” in this context? It was not merely to prohibit us from indulging in some of life’s pleasures, rather it was to inform us of one small, but important, instruction on how to keep the body preserved in the best possible health. That is the reason all the health laws were given. Not prohibitions, but rather instructions on how to maintain the best function possible from the human machinery.
“I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” Eccl. 3:14 When God speaks, nothing can change His word. It is a serious thought… When He states that the sinner will perish for his sin if he refuses to repent, it will happen. However when God turns around and states that the sinner can receive forgiveness when he repents and accepts Jesus’ sacrifice for His sins, his sins will be cast into the depths of the sea, never more to resurface. That is also for ever. Nothing can change God’s word. He is the same, “yesterday, today and forever.”
The word “nothing” does not always carry a negative connotation. When God is talking it can convey a very powerful, positive and encouraging message, such as: “And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children’s of Israel.” Exodus 9:4 Did even one single cow die? Not even one. Nothing means, not even one. God kept His promise.
“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7. Wonderful promise is given here. Nothing will take us by surprise on this earth. We have been given privileged information regarding the future events to come about on this earth. God says He will do nothing without revealing His plans to His people through His prophets beforehand. What confidence we can have in Him!
“Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:” Jer. 32:17
Not only do we serve a God for whom nothing is too hard or impossible, He has also passed this gift onto His faithful followers. “And Jesus said unto them…verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you..” Matthew17:20. “Throughout the history of God’s people great mountains of difficulty, apparently insurmountable, have loomed up before those who were trying to carry out the purposes of Heaven. Such obstacles are permitted by the Lord as a test of faith. When we are hedged about on every side, this is the time above all others to trust in God and in the power of His Spirit. The exercise of a living faith means an increase of spiritual strength and the development of an unfaltering trust. It is thus that the soul becomes a conquering power. Before the demand of faith, the obstacles placed by Satan across the pathway of the Christian will disappear; for the powers of heaven will come to his aid.” PK 595/6
Just contemplate this thought for a moment… “nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Jesus said, “nothing,” and He meant it. Does that mean we can overcome any and all sin? Yes, we can. Nothing is impossible. Does that mean, we can do anything that God asks us to do? Is anything too hard for us? No, nothing. In Christ we can do all that God requires of us.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5 What a beautiful promise this is. Jesus has promised never to leave us. Never… That means we can enjoy His presence forever, always. “Satan will exercise his power over them in temptations, in discouragements, in afflictions of bodily infirmities, hoping that he can cause them to murmur against God and close their understanding to His goodness, mercy, and love, and the exceeding weight of glory that is to be the reward of the overcomer. But God is leading these souls to more perfect confidence in their heavenly Father. His eye is upon them every moment; and if they lift their cry to Him in faith, if they will stay their souls upon Him in their perplexities, the Lord will bring them forth as gold purified.” 6T 156/7
TREASURES OF WICKEDNESS
Then on the other hand, the Lord lets us know that there is no profit under the sun in continuing a life of sin. Nothing.
“Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.” Proverbs 10:2. You may be rich in the eyes of the world, through the providence of Satan, by using wicked methods, but it will profit you nothing when Jesus comes. And also, “There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.” Proverbs 13:7. Our reward in heaven is greater than all the sacrifices we’ve made on this earth.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36. The answer to this question is, nothing. This thought is worth contemplation also. Are we living according to God’s will without turning any “nothing’s” into “moderation’s”? If not, what will it profit us when Jesus comes?
WHEN ARE YOU NOTHING?
Mankind thinks they are so wise and intelligent, with all the modern inventions and conveniences they are inventing. They believe the evolutionary theory that was introduced by Charles Darwin in the 19th century, and think mankind is steadily rising to a higher level of intelligence. However in the eyes of God, it is exactly the opposite. What is this planet in the eyes of the universe? It is simply a speck in the vast expanse of the heavens where live a race of beings in open rebellion against their Maker. It could be seen as nothing.
Nothing of apparent importance, that is. It is a speck that has caused a lot of pain, sorrow and heartache, not only on this earth, but in the entire universe when they witnessed the sorrow and death of their beloved Jesus.
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Matthew 5:13. In Christ only do we have value. Without Christ, we are like the salt with no savour, which is good for nothing. “But if the salt has lost its savour; if there is only a profession of godliness, without the love of Christ, there is no power for good. The life can exert no saving influence upon the world. Your energy and efficiency in the upbuilding of My kingdom, Jesus says, depend upon your receiving of My Spirit. You must be partakers of My grace, in order to be a savour of life unto life. Then there will be no rivalry, no self-seeking, no desire for the highest place. You will have that love which seeks not her own, but another’s wealth.” DA 439
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” I Corinthians 4:5.
This counsel is often unheeded. Gossip can create disruptions and disturbances in social circles and church settings. Second- hand information is often exaggerated and it is an unfortunate fact that many judge without knowing the true facts in situations. But we are told to judge, “nothing”, that means not a single thing, until we are positive of all the facts; positive that we have seen all sides of any situation, discussing facts with only those who were present in situations.
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119:165. This Bible verse creates much difficulty for some people. It is one of the most difficult “nothing’s” to observe and accept. We often don’t take this “nothing” seriously, excusing ourselves that in certain situations it is perfectly normal to feel offended. In human relations we so easily offend others – often unintentionally. But, what will offend God’s true followers? Nothing. Think about it for a minute… not a single thing will offend you if your life is hid in Christ. Have you ever felt offended? Then fast and pray to renew your connection with Jesus. If you want peace in your heart, you must love the law of God, and not let a single thing offend you. How can we do this? It is not easy. Our feelings easily get wounded when we feel slighted or neglected, or someone speaks ill advisedly towards us – whether in anger or in a hurtful manner. While it is wrong on the person’s part who offends his brother or sister, it is equally wrong to feel offended. Unless the feeling of being offended is immediately cast out, it will become sin. I used the word “sin” when I mentioned harboring offended feelings. Is it really sin? It certainly is. To harbour offended feelings means “self” has not died. Self is alive and you are upset that “self” has been ill treated in your eyes.
I urge everyone to read chapter 41 of the book Ministry of Healing where this concept is discussed in more detail. In the second half of this article, I want to quote a part of this chapter here since I believe it is of vital importance in preserving unity in God’s church today. We need to read this over and over again and put into practice the words written in this chapter, since Satan is going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He wants to divide and conquer God’s church since he knows his time is very short now, so it is extremely important that we band together in unity and love, to be strong enough to prevent Satan from frustrating the work of the Lord.
Early on in the chapter we can read, “The work of many a burden bearer is not understood, his labors are not appreciated, until death lays him low. When others take up the burdens he has laid down, and meet the difficulties he encountered, they can understand how his faith and courage were tested. Often then the mistakes they were so quick to censure are lost sight of. Experience teaches them sympathy. God permits men to be placed in positions of responsibility. When they err, He has power to correct or to remove them. We should be careful not to take into our hands the work of judging that belongs to God.” Then the case of David and Saul is mentioned. Saul had definitely not been a good king in Israel and David had several opportunities to kill him. He had been promised that he would be the next king, however, he left the timing to God. God placed Saul on the throne and he would wait until God removed him.
This following section of the chapter is the key to this subject…
Forbearance Under Wrong
“We cannot afford to let our spirits chafe over any real or supposed wrong done to ourselves. Self is the enemy we most need to fear. No form of vice has a more baleful effect upon the character than has human passion not under the control of the Holy Spirit. No other victory we can gain will be so precious as the victory gained over self.
“We should not allow our feelings to be easily wounded. We are to live, not to guard our feelings or our reputation, but to save souls. As we become interested in the salvation of souls we cease to mind the little differences that so often arise in our association with one another. Whatever others may think of us or do to us, it need not disturb our oneness with Christ, the fellowship of the Spirit. ?What glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.’ 1 Peter 2:20.
“Do not retaliate. So far as you can do so, remove all cause or misapprehension. Avoid the appearance of evil. Do all that lies in your power, without the sacrifice of principle, to conciliate others. ?If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.’ Matthew 5:23, 24.
“If impatient words are spoken to you, never reply in the same spirit. Remember that ?a soft answer turneth away wrath.’ Proverbs 15:1. And there is wonderful power in silence. Words spoken in reply to one who is angry sometimes serve only to exasperate. But anger met with silence, in a tender, forbearing spirit, quickly dies away.
“Under a storm of stinging, faultfinding words, keep the mind stayed upon the word of God. Let mind and heart be stored with God’s promises. If you are ill-treated or wrongfully accused, instead of returning an angry answer, repeat to yourself the precious promises:…
“So long as we are in the world, we shall meet with adverse influences. There will be provocations to test the temper; and it is by meeting these in a right spirit that the Christian graces are developed. If Christ dwells in us, we shall be patient, kind, and forbearing, cheerful amid frets and irritations. Day by day and year by year we shall conquer self, and grow into a noble heroism. This is our allotted task; but it cannot be accomplished without help from Jesus, resolute decision, unwavering purpose, continual watchfulness, and unceasing prayer. Each one has a personal battle to fight. Not even God can make our characters noble or our lives useful, unless we become co-workers with Him. Those who decline the struggle lose the strength and joy of victory.
“We need not keep our own record of trials and difficulties, griefs, and sorrows. All these things are written in the books, and heaven will take care of them. While we are counting up the disagreeable things, many things that are pleasant to reflect upon are passing from memory, such as the merciful kindness of God surrounding us every moment and the love over which angels marvel, that God gave His Son to die for us…
“If we have a sense of the long-suffering of God toward us, we shall not be found judging or accusing others. When Christ was living on the earth, how surprised His associates would have been, if, after becoming acquainted with Him, they had heard Him speak one word of accusation, of fault-finding, or of impatience. Let us never forget that those who love Him are to represent Him in character.”
To preserve unity in the church, these paragraphs are key. In unity there is strength and Satan is seeking to divide and conquer God’s people.
“Cultivate the habit of speaking well of others. Dwell upon the good qualities of those with whom you associate, and see as little as possible of their errors and failings. When tempted to complain of what someone has said or done, praise something in that person’s life or character. Cultivate thankfulness. Praise God for His wonderful love in giving Christ to die for us. It never pays to think of our grievances. God calls upon us to think of His mercy and His matchless love, that we may be inspired with praise.
“Earnest workers have no time for dwelling upon the faults of others. We cannot afford to live on the husks of others’ faults or failings. Evilspeaking is a twofold curse, falling more heavily upon the speaker than upon the hearer. He who scatters the seeds of dissension and strife reaps in his own soul the deadly fruits. The very act of looking for evil in others develops evil in those who look. By dwelling upon the faults of others, we are changed into the same image. But by beholding Jesus, talking of His love and perfection of character, we become changed into His image. By contemplating the lofty ideal He has placed before us, we shall be uplifted into a pure and holy atmosphere, even the presence of God. When we abide here, there goes forth from us a light that irradiates all who are connected with us…
“Instead of criticizing and condemning others, say, ?I must work out my own salvation. If I co-operate with Him who desires to save my soul, I must watch myself diligently. I must put away every evil from my life. I must overcome every fault. I must become a new creature in Christ. Then, instead of weakening those who are striving against evil, I can strengthen them by encouraging words.’ We are too indifferent in regard to one another. Too often we forget that our fellow laborers are in need of strength and cheer. Take care to assure them of your interest and sympathy. Help them by your prayers, and let them know that you do it.”
In doing missionary work, there is also good advice.
“Regard yourselves as missionaries, first of all, among your fellow workers. Often it requires a vast amount of time and labor to win one soul to Christ. And when a soul turns from sin to righteousness, there is joy in the presence of the angels. Think you that the ministering spirits who watch over these souls are pleased to see how indifferently they are treated by some who claim to be Christians? Should Jesus deal with us as we too often deal with one another, who of us could be saved?
“Remember that you cannot read hearts. You do not know the motives which prompted the actions that to you look wrong. There are many who have not received a right education; their characters are warped, they are hard and gnarled, and seem to be crooked in every way. But the grace of Christ can transform them. Never cast them aside, never drive them to discouragement or despair by saying, ?You have disappointed me, and I will not try to help you.’ A few words spoken hastily under provocation–just what we think they deserve–may cut the cords of influence that should have bound their hearts to ours.”
We are all in this together. Let us work together rather and not find ourselves working against God’s people.
“All who profess to be children of God should bear in mind that as missionaries they will be brought into contact with all classes of minds. There are the refined and the coarse, the humble and the proud, the religious and the skeptical, the educated and the ignorant, the rich and the poor. These varied minds cannot be treated alike; yet all need kindness and sympathy. By mutual contact our minds should receive polish and refinement. We are dependent upon one another, closely bound together by the ties of human brotherhood.”
“Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” Matthew 10:26. There is nothing you can hide from God, no actions, no words, no thoughts or no motives. They will all be revealed one day.
May God help us to reach the high standard of sanctification set before us, where self will be put to death so that nothing anyone can say, or do, will offend us. Until we reach this point, we will not have peace in our hearts, however in Christ it is possible. Self needs to be crucified with Christ. Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. Never was it said that Jesus was offended. He never was seen hurt, or upset because of what others did to Him. Rather He prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Let us trust God when He uses a positive “nothing” and be very careful not to turn any of His “nothing’s” into “moderation’s.” “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Phil 4:13 The promise is that, in Christ, nothing will be impossible for us. Just believe it and act on His promise.
Wendy Eaton, Australia