“Our time belongs to God. Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to His glory. Of no talent has He given will He require a more strict account than of our time. The value of time is beyond computation.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 342
Every day of our life has a purpose. God has made plans for every minute of each day for the purpose of perfecting our character. If we accept the plan that God has made for us, through His help, we will change into greater holiness, greater meekness, and we will have a greater missionary spirit. Through a moment by moment connection with Christ, when He returns, we will have reached the perfection Jesus spoke of when He said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
Will this spiritual growth happen naturally? No, nothing happens without great effort on our part. When we do everything humanly possible, then God gives His power to us. Only then will we see great spiritual growth every day. We will have greater love to God and to our neighbours; make greater sacrifices, pray more, and be more patient. We will then have fullness of joy and happiness and need nothing from the world to satisfy us; no entertainment or pleasure that the world enjoys.
We need a clear understanding of perfection—things that we must learn, and into whose image we must change. We must reflect Jesus’ image fully, not 99 percent. We need to meditate on the life of Jesus day and night, and put out our supreme effort with God’s help to become like Christ.
To keep a clear picture of Christ in our minds we need to read the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy books every day. We must compare our life to the life of Jesus. Every evening, examine the past day and see if your life was reflecting the life of Jesus. “Jesus came in personal contact with men. He did not stand aloof and apart from those who needed His help. He entered the homes of men, comforted the mourner, healed the sick, aroused the careless, and went about doing good. And if we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we must do as He did. We must give men the same kind of help that He did.” –Our Father Cares, p. 53
In order to live such a life, we must “pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. “No man is safe for a day or an hour without prayer.” –The Great Controversy, p. 530. Jesus said, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 21:36
It can happen that we forget to pray constantly, and forget about Jesus and His sacrifice. We may forget the purpose of the day, and so the day becomes a wasted day. We did not advance towards perfection. Several wasted days will make us forget the purpose of time, and we fall into Laodicean lukewarmness. Eternal interests are forgotten, and we make Satan happy. For this reason, most professing Christians will be lost.
If days and years go by without spiritual advancement, our judgement day will come and find us wanting. If we do not reflect the image of Jesus fully, our names will be removed from the Book of Life.
Now, today, what do we need to do? “I saw some, with strong faith and agonizing cries, pleading with God. Their countenances were pale and marked with deep anxiety, expressive of their internal struggle. Firmness and great earnestness was expressed in their countenances; large drops of perspiration fell from their foreheads. Now and then their faces would light up with the marks of God’s approbation, and again the same solemn, earnest, anxious look would settle upon them. . . .
“Some I saw did not participate in this work of agonizing and pleading. They seemed indifferent and careless. They were not resisting the darkness around them, and it shut them in like a thick cloud. The angels of God left these and went to the aid of the earnest, praying ones.” –Early Writings, p. 269–270
Our sealing time is near, and we should put every effort into preparing for it, otherwise we will not receive the seal of God in our foreheads. “Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully.
“I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of ‘refreshing’ and the ‘latter rain’ to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God . . . .
“I saw that none could share the ‘refreshing’ unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence.” –Ibid., p. 71
The Lord has provided enough time in each person’s life to reach this perfection of character. As we yield our will to the Lord, and work in cooperation with Him, when He returns our characters will have reached the required the heavenly standard.
The question arises, how do we spend this time? Many think that they are good Christians, ready for heaven; they keep the Sabbath, pay their tithes, and they are vegetarians. This, however is not enough. The Pharisees did this. “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” Luke 18:11–12. But, Jesus said to them., “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” John 8:44. Today we have Pharisees who are satisfied with themselves and say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Revelation 3:17
This Laodicean lukewarmness is very common among Christians. They work for eight hours, then come home and prepare their food, and do their shopping. Finally, before going to bed, they say a short prayer. But did they pray all day without ceasing? Did they meditate on the life of Jesus? They did not advance in their Christian life. In fact, they have backslidden. These are wasted days, and eventually the whole life becomes wasted, and then they realize, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Jeremiah 8:20. Too late, too late, these are terrible words to hear.
“We should fear to rob Him of the time He claims from us; we should fear to spend it in idleness or in the adornment of the body, appropriating to foolish purposes the precious hours God has given us to be devoted to prayer, to becoming conversant with our Bibles, and to laboring for the good of our fellow beings, thus fitting ourselves and them for the great work devolving upon us.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 72
“We have a great work to do. Let us not pass in idleness the precious hours that God has given us in which to perfect characters for heaven. We must not be inactive or slothful in this work, for we have not a moment to spend without a purpose or object.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 540
We sing in our hymn, “Work for the night is coming, when man’s work is done.” How many are neglecting the work that God has given them to do, and so they stop growing spiritually, and start backsliding? We need to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippinas 2:12. Then Jesus will, “Make you perfect in every good work to do His will.” Hebrews 13:21. “ It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ. Our precious Saviour invites us to join ourselves to Him, to unite our weakness to His strength, our ignorance to His wisdom, our unworthiness to His merits. God’s providence is the school in which we are to learn the meekness and lowliness of Jesus. The Lord is ever setting before us, not the way we would choose, which seems easier and pleasanter to us, but the true aims of life. It rests with us to co-operate with the agencies which Heaven employs, in the work of conforming our characters to the divine model. None can neglect or defer this work but at the most fearful peril to their souls.” –The Great Controversy, p. 623
Every day our character must grow towards perfection. This can be done only by constant prayer, meditating on the life of Jesus, participating in missionary work, and daily Bible reading.
“Who knows whether God will not give you up to the deceptions you love? Who knows but that the preachers who are faithful, firm, and true may be the last who shall offer the gospel of peace to our unthankful churches? It may be that the destroyers are already training under the hand of Satan and only wait the departure of a few more standard-bearers to take their places, and with the voice of the false prophet, cry, ‘peace, peace,’ when the Lord hath not spoken peace. I seldom weep, but now I find my eyes blinded with tears; they are falling upon my paper as I write. It may be that erelong all prophesyings among us will be at an end, and the voice which has stirred the people may no longer disturb their carnal slumber.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 77
This testimony was written to the Seventh-day Adventist Church on June 20, 1882 as a warning. This warning was not accepted nor put to practice; therefore, 32 years later, a great apostasy took place. We, as the Reform Church, must take these counsels seriously and prepare ourselves for the great test that will come upon us in the Sunday Law.
Is heaven worth all this effort? I would say, yes. I have seen heaven in my dreams, and it made me homesick for it. Any effort, even sacrificing our lives is very little compared to the glory of heaven and eternal life, thus avoiding hell fire. “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Luke 13:24
If you do all what Jesus asks you to do, and what He did in sacrificing His life for you, you will have fullness of joy—joy that the world cannot give you, with all of its entertainments. Without this fullness of joy we are not ready for our judgment. Let us put out a serious effort to reach the character perfection that is required. Amen.