[Editor’s Note: Steps to Life Ministries, just as every Christian
ministry and church, occasionally struggles through a crisis
Note: Steps to Life Ministries, just as
every Christian ministry and church, occasionally struggles through a
crisis.More often than not, a
contributing factor, and perhaps the major component of such crises, has to do with
speech.Believing this to be a spiritual
problem, we have chosen to seek counsel from the Bible and from the Pen of
Inspiration.God is able to heal all of
our wounds and to bring us into the harmony and unity that we need to do His work,
if we comply with certain conditions laid down in inspired writings.If you have been experiencing strife in your
relationships, it is our prayer that you will find the counsel presented in
this series beneficial.]
“Many, many times I have wished that there
might be circulated a pledge containing a solemn promise to speak only those
words that are pleasing to God.There is
as great need for such a pledge as there is for one against the use of
intoxicating liquor.”Review and Herald,
I will “guard against speaking words that
discourage.”I “resolve never to engage
in evil-speaking and backbiting.”I
“refuse to serve Satan by implanting seeds of doubt.”I will make a “solemn promise to speak only
those words that are pleasing to God.”I
will, by the grace of God, “begin to discipline the tongue, remembering always
that [I] can do this only by disciplining the mind.”“No evil reports will be carried” by me.“Tattling and gossip will cease.”By the grace of God, I will “abstain [from
evil] speaking and evil surmising.”
help that Christ can give, we shall be able to learn to bridle the tongue.Sorely as he was tried on the point of hasty
and angry speech, he never once sinned with his lips.With patient calmness he met the sneers, the
taunts, and the ridicule of his fellow workers at the carpenter’s bench.Instead of retorting angrily, he would begin
to sing one of David’s beautiful psalms; and his companions, before realizing
what they were doing, would unite with him in the hymn.What a transformation would be wrought in
this world if men and women today would follow Christ’s example in the use of
words!”Review and Herald,May 26, 1904.
“Little do we
realize the prevalence of evil among those who claim to be Christians.”Ibid.
“Unitedly we are to help one another gain perfection of
character.To this end, we are to cease
all criticism. . . .Supposing
we were to cherish a remembrance of the bright chapters in our Christian
experience, and dwell upon these in our testimony meetings; would not this be
pleasing to God?”Ibid.
“Let us talk
faith, and not unbelief; let us praise God, and go forward.The Lord is good, and greatly to be
praised.At every step let us praise him
from whom all blessings flow.”Ibid.
effort should be made in every church to put away evil-speaking and a
censorious spirit.Severity and
fault-finding must be rebuked as the work of Satan.Mutual love and confidence must be encouraged
and strengthened in the members of the church.Let all close their ears to gossip and censure.Direct the tale-bearer to the teachings of
God’s word.Bid him carry his complaints
directly to those whom he thinks in error.This united action would bring a flood of light into the church, and
close the door to a flood of evil.”Ibid.,November 30, 1886.
pride, envy, malice, evil surmising, back-biting, gossiping, and tattling, have
been cherished among them, until the Spirit of God has but little to do with
them.The prayers of some who profess to
know God are, in their present state, an abomination in the sight of the Lord.
. . .While they profess to be
servants of Jesus Christ, they are servants of the enemy of righteousness, and
their works testify of them that they are not acquainted with God, and that
their hearts are not in obedience to the will of Christ.”Pamphlet 159,
is defined as: (1)
one who attacks the good name of another or is an evil speaker,
(2)to go about as a slanderer or a spy.A slanderer is one who makes statements
injurious to another’s reputation or well-being or makes a malicious statement
or report of another.
1No backbiters will be in heaven.
can do much to discourage that evil habit, the curse of the community, the
neighborhood, and the home—the habit of backbiting, gossip, ungenerous
criticism.In this no pains should be
spared.Impress upon the students the
fact that this habit reveals a lack of culture and refinement and of true
goodness of heart; it unfits one both for the society of the truly cultured
and refined in this world and for association with the holy ones of heaven.”Education,235.
2Backbiters are as bad or even worse than
with horror of the cannibal who feasts on the still warm and trembling flesh of
his victim; but are the results of even this practice more terrible than are
the agony and ruin caused by misrepresenting motive, blackening reputation,
dissecting character?Let the children,
and the youth as well, learn what God says about these things.”Ibid.
3Backbiting is a sin worthy of death.
Scripture, backbiters are classed with ‘haters of God,’ with ‘inventors of evil
things,’ with those who are ‘without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful,’
‘full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity.’It is ‘the judgment of God, that they which
commit such things are worthy of death.’Romans 1:30, 31, 29, 32.He whom God
accounts a citizen of Zion is he that ‘speaketh the
truth in his heart,’ ‘that backbiteth not with his
tongue,’ ‘nor taketh up a reproach against his
neighbor.’Psalm 15:2, 3.”Ibid.,235, 236.
4We are not to cooperate with the evil speaker.
has been almost killed, because the spirit of backbiting has been allowed to
enter.Why do we speak words of blame
and censure?To be silent is the
strongest rebuke that you can give to one who is speaking harsh, discourteous
words to you.Keep perfectly
silent.Often silence is
5James White classed the backbiter with those having an evil
“In a vision
given me at Saratoga
Springs I was
shown a company in Vermont with a woman among them who was a deceiver, and the
church must be enlightened as to her character lest poisonous error should
become deeply rooted among them.I had
not seen the brethren in that part of the State with my natural eyes.We visited them, and as we entered Brother B.’s dwelling a woman came forward to receive me whom I
thought to be Sister B.’s mother.I was about to salute her when the light fell
upon her face and lo! it was Mrs. C., the woman I had
seen in vision.I dropped her hand
instantly and drew back.She noticed
this and remarked upon it afterwards.The church in Vergennes and vicinity collected together for
meeting.There was confusion of
sentiment among them.Brother E. E. held
the age to come and some were in favor of S. Allen, a notable fanatic, who held
views of a dangerous character which if carried out would lead to spiritual
union and breaking up of families.I
delivered the message in the Sabbath meeting which the Lord had given me.Sunday
Mrs. C. was talking quite eloquently in regard to backbiting.She was very severe, for she had heard that
speeches had been made against her fanatical proceedings.Just then Sister B. entered saying, ‘Will you
please walk out to dinner?’Mrs. C.
instantly replied, saying, ‘This kind goeth not out save by fasting and prayer.I do not wish any dinner.’In a moment my husband was upon his
feet.The power of God was upon him, and
the color had left his face.Said he, ‘I hope it will go out!In the name of the Lord, I hope it will go
out!’ and said he to Mrs. C., ‘That evil spirit is in you, and I hope it will
go out!I rebuke it in the name of the
Lord!’She seemed to be struck
dumb.Her glib, smart tongue was stilled
for once.”Life Sketches of James
White and Ellen G. White (1880),
Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, Battle Creek, MI, 1880, 285, 286.
6We are not to discourage others by engaging in evil speaking and
“Let us guard
against speaking words that discourage.Let us resolve never to engage in evil-speaking and backbiting.Let us refuse to serve Satan by implanting
seeds of doubt.Let us guard against
cherishing unbelief, or expressing it to others.Many, many times I have wished that there
might be circulated a pledge containing a solemn promise to speak only those
words that are pleasing to God.There is
as great need for such a pledge as there is for one against the use of
intoxicating liquor.Let us begin to
discipline the tongue, remembering always that we can do this only by
disciplining the mind, for ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’Matthew 12:34.”Our High Calling, 291.
7Backbiting drives away the Holy Spirit.
in —— need sifting.A thorough
conversion is necessary before they can be in working order.Selfishness, pride, envy, malice, evil
surmising, backbiting, gossiping, and tattling have been cherished among them,
until the Spirit of God has but little to do with them.While some who profess to know God remain in
their present state, their prayers are an abomination in His sight.They do not sustain their faith by their
works, and it would have been better for some never to have professed the truth
than to have dishonored their profession as they have.While they profess to be servants of Christ,
they are servants of the enemy of righteousness; and their works testify of
them that they are not acquainted with God and that their hearts are not in
obedience to the will of Christ.They
make child’s play of religion; they act like pettish children.”Testimonies, vol. 3,
8We are not to listen to a speaker who is backbiting.
listen to a reproach against our brother, we take up that reproach.To the question, ‘Lord, who shall abide in
Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill?’ the
psalmist answered, ‘He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh
the truth in his heart.He that backbiteth not with his tongue,
nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a
reproach against his neighbor.’[Psalm 15:1–3.]” Ibid.,
vol. 5, 58.
9All backbiters are disapproved of God.
“[Psalm 15:1–5.]Here the backbiter is excluded from abiding
in the tabernacle of God and dwelling in the holy hill of Zion.He that taketh up a
reproach against his neighbor cannot receive the approval of God.”Ibid.,615.
10Backbiting is one of the reasons the church is feeble.
“Envy, evil surmising,
backbiting, and faultfinding—let these not be named amongst Christ’s
disciples.These things are the cause of
the present feebleness of the church.We
have a perfect pattern, even the life of Christ.It is to be our eager desire to do as He has
done, to live as He lived, that others, seeing our good works, may be led to
glorify God.The Lord’s blessing will
rest upon us as we seek to bless others by doing the work that Christ came to
this world to teach us how to do.”The Upward Look, 117.
11Satan, if he can, will keep us backbiting
one another until Jesus comes.
clear your souls before God.Cease your
criticizing and fault-finding.Satan
will keep you at this till the Lord comes, if he can.He knows that thus he can most effectually
hinder the Lord’s work.Backbiting
is cannibalism.God calls upon His
people to have nothing to do with it, but to come to Him, that they may have
light and life and salvation.We need
the wisdom that comes from above.Pure,
this wisdom is, ‘peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated.’[James 3:17.]If it were
not, the love of the Father would not have been so constantly exercised toward
us.”The General Conference Bulletin,April
12We can be rid of the spirit of back-biting today.
churches in which the spirituality has been almost killed, because the spirit
of backbiting has been allowed to enter.Why do we speak words of blame and censure?To be silent is the strongest rebuke that you
can give to one who is speaking harsh, discourteous words to you.Keep perfectly silent.Often silence is eloquence.My brethren, you will never enter heaven
with a spirit of faultfinding.I ask
you to get rid of this spirit before you leave this meeting.Do not take it back with you to your home
13We are not to listen to a complaint until we have positive evidence
that it is true.
only the one who makes the complaint is condemned, but the ones who take up
this reproach, who cherish it, and repeat it.If reports come to you against the Sanitarium [a ministry; a person], do
not receive them till you have positive evidence that they are true.”Review and Herald,September 15, 1885.
14Refuse to listen to a tale about your neighbor until the Bible rule
“When any one
comes to you with a tale about your neighbor, you should refuse to hear
it.You should say to him, ‘Have you
spoken of this matter to the individual concerned?’If he has not done so, tell him he should
obey the Bible rule, and go first to his brother, and tell him his fault
privately, and in love.If the
directions of God were carried out, the flood-gates of gossip would be
15There is no rest or happiness as long as we retain unsanctified
traits of character.
those who have only a nominal faith; they draw nigh to God with their lips,
while the heart is far from him; but the true wrestler for the victory has a
real, living faith, which is implanted in his heart by the Holy Spirit, and it
makes every difference in the world with his life and words and actions.He has an aim in life, a living purpose,
which shapes the character.This hope is
not vague; it rests on a solid basis, which is the truth.It braces the soul for trial, and nerves it
for duty, irrespective of inconvenience or inclination.A stubborn, willful spirit is not of Christ,
but of Satan; hence, it will not be cherished by him who has the mind of
Christ.All impurity of thought will be
overcome, and the mind will be trained to pure and holy thoughts.Backbiting and evil speaking will be put
away.Jealousy and selfishness will be
overcome, for they are Satanic, and not Christlike.Bitter
are the fruits of self-indulgence, of unsanctified traits of character.There is no rest or happiness in a life of
opposition to God.But sweet is the joy
and peace experienced by those who close the door to Satan, and open it to
Christ.”The Signs of the Times,October 12, 1891.
16We can become agents of Satan even while professedly in the Lord’s
converting power of God is felt upon the heart, altogether different results
will be seen.A person
who will allow any degree of suspicion or censure to rest upon his fellow
workers, while he neither rebukes the complainers nor faithfully presents the
matter before the one condemned, is doing the work of the enemy.He is watering seeds of discord and of
strife, the fruit of which he will have to meet in the day of God.He is backbiting; he is taking up a reproach
against his neighbor; he is doing a work that will separate very friends.He is striking directly at the reputation of
his brother; and envy, jealousy, and evil surmisings
are awakened, which endanger the soul’s salvation.He is hedging up his brother’s way, binding
his influence; and God will hold him accountable for this work.”Pamphlet 066,
17What will happen when we really have the love of Christ within?
“Let no one
become so self-centered that he will fail to see that the Lord has appointed to
every one a work.Let each do his
best.This is all that the Lord requires
of any one.Let our people read to a
purpose the instruction given in the seventh chapter of John.The lessons of this chapter are not carried
out in their daily practise.The Lord is not glorified in their lives,
because they do not cherish love for one another.When their hearts are filled with the love of
Christ, backbiting and criticizing will cease.No longer will Seventh-day Adventists weaken one another’s hands; for
they will love one another as Christ has loved them.”Pamphlet 151,
18We must have a thorough repentance.
deeply concerning the church at Battle Creek, where are located our important institutions.This great heart of the work sends forth to
every branch of the work either a healthy or a sickly and diseased
influence.The true condition of the
cause of God in Michigan is deplorable.But few realize the spiritual lethargy that prevails.The church at Battle Creek have not made thorough work in repenting and confessing
their past sins.Many today hate the
light which discovers their wrongs and errors.False repentance is deceiving souls to their ruin.Persons will make spasmodic efforts and
appear to feel remorse for their course of action, but do not become converted
and soon evidence that the heart is untouched.All the good impressions are soon effaced, and they will return to their
same course of fault-finding, whisperings, backbiting, and reporting evil which
they have felt troubled over.They
declare to others by their own course of action that their repentance is not
genuine, that their sorrow was not godly sorrow.”Pamphlet 155,
19 When peace flees and God’s
servants are martyred . . .
“How far you
will be left to work as Satan’s agents to oppress, to accuse, to wound, and
bruise the soul, we cannot determine.But the Lord’s eye is over all.He knows every thought, every deed, every action, and he will judge you
as your works have been.I never so
longed for Jesus to come as at this time, that the
wickedness of the wicked might come to an end.If every member of the church would try to find what good there is in
one another, what a Heaven we should have on earth!Cherishing bitterness and suspicion toward
one person makes us feel hard and cold and distrustful of everybody.The peace of Christ has no place in the heart
that thinketh evil.The mischievous talk about Prof. Bell, Dr. Kellogg, and different ones,
is purely the work that Satan instigates.Division, distrust, jealousy, evil-surmising, are sown as thistle seeds
are cast to the winds.Satan puts his
magnifying glass before your eyes, and everything is viewed as he wills
it.Peace flees away.The false tongue should be treated with hot
coals of juniper.Dr. Kellogg has made
mistakes,—he has erred.His errors have
injured my husband.Dr. Kellogg sees his
mistakes and feels them, and has confessed them; while those who were more
guilty than he is abusing his mind in placing things before him in an exaggerated
light, and relating as facts things which had no foundation in truth, led him
to feel an assurance that his feelings were correct.His mind was kept stirred up by reporters,
tattlers, mischief-makers, and false reporters.My husband was hunted to death, and those who have acted their part
faithfully for Satan saw him in his coffin removed from the strife of
tongues.He died of a broken heart, and
the Lord let him rest.I hold no grudge
against any one.I felt to the very
depths of my soul over the treatment my husband received, and I have forgiven
those who have done this work.I pray
the Lord to forgive them.I warn you not
to do to another as you have done to him.And when you begin your attacks upon one and then another that do not
agree with your ways and please your fancies, I am determined to resist your
influence and stand up for the oppressed.Will you send others to their death by your persecuting tongues, your
suspicions, your envies, your jealousies?Will you cultivate the worst traits of character in indulging in
censuring, backbiting, and falsehood?Is
this the element that you love, and will you choose this atmosphere which is
the poison of hell?What think you of
Jesus?You may talk of his love, you may
praise and bless his name, you may adore him all you please; but cease your
praise and your flatteries of finite men, and also cease your wicked
fault-finding, cease to murder character.”Pamphlet 155, 20,
20How to make things harder for the evil-tongued persons.
steps [Matthew 18] have
not been taken, do not listen to a word, close the ears, and refuse to take up
a reproach against your neighbor; listening to the reports of evil is
lifting or taking up the reproach.If there were no brethren and sisters to take up the reproach against
their neighbors, evil tongues would not find so fruitful a field in which to
labor, backbiting and devouring one another.”Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, 281.
21The need of looking on the bright side.
displeased to have brethren suspiciously pick up an item here, and a jot and tittle there, and construe these tidbits into grave
sins.Complaining, faultfinding, and
backbiting will be carried on to a large extent among the people when
encouraged by the influence of the men engaged in the solemn work of the
ministry.To disdain another’s work
because it is not in your line of work is an offense to God.It is no less a sin when men who occupy
positions of trust engage in it.If you,
my brother, were to go into a field where are precious things, shrubs and
flowers, and pass these by unnoticed, and begin to complain of the thistles and
the briers and unsightly shrubs, and present these as the representation of
what was in that field, would it be just?Should you not rather have gathered the roses, the lilies, and the
precious things and carried these away, thankful that such blessings did exist,
acknowledging that there were things of precious value in that field?”Ibid.,381.
22Do not listen to reports of faults of your brethren.
and lay members of the church displease God when they allow individuals to tell
them the errors and faults of their brethren.They should not listen to these reports, but
should inquire, ‘Have you strictly followed the injunction of your Saviour?Have you
gone to the offender and told him his faults between you and him alone, and has
he refused to hear you?Have you
carefully and prayerfully taken two or three others, and labored with him in
tenderness, humility, and meekness, your heart throbbing in love for his soul?If the Captain’s orders, in the rules given
for the erring, have been strictly followed, then an advance step is to be
taken.Tell it to the church, and let
action be taken in the case according to the Scriptures.Then it is that heaven will ratify the
decision made by the church in cutting off the offending member if he does not
steps have not been taken, close the ear to their complaints, and thus refuse
to take up a reproach against your neighbor.Listening to the reports of evil is taking up a reproach.If there were no brethren and sisters to do
this, evil tongues would soon cease, for they would not find so fruitful a
field in which to work in backbiting and devouring one another. . . . ” Ibid., vol. 15, 138.
Satan will constantly tempt us to backbite.
“The unity of
the church is the convincing evidence that God has sent Jesus into the world as
its Redeemer.This is an argument which worldlings can neither withstand nor controvert.Therefore Satan is constantly working
to prevent this union and harmony, that unbelievers,
by witnessing backbiting, dissension, and strife among professed Christians,
may become disgusted with religion, and be confirmed in their impenitence.God is dishonored by those who profess the
truth while they are at variance and enmity with one another.Satan is the great accuser of the brethren,
and all who engage in this work are enlisted in his service.”Ibid.,143.
24How to lose the Holy Spirit and the blessing of God on the church.
those who cherish a spirit of envy and hatred against their brethren, calling
it the Spirit of God.There are those
who go up and down as talebearers, accusing and condemning, blackening
character, inspiring hearts with maliciousness.They carry false reports to the doors of
their neighbors, who, as they listen to the slander, lose the Spirit of
God.Not even the messenger of God, who
bears to the people His truth, is spared.
“This sin is
worse than the sin of Achan.Its influence is not confined to those who
cherish it.It is a root of bitterness,
whereby many are defiled.God cannot
bless the church till it is purged of this evil that corrupts minds and
spirits, the souls of those who do not repent and change their course of
vol. 18, 147.
by the fruits on the tree.
“ ‘The tongue is a little member, and boasteth
how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
. . .The tongue is a fire, a
world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body and setteth
on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
. . .The tongue can no man
tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison’ (James 3:5, 6, 8). [Psalm 15:1–3 quoted.]
“In a letter
to my husband you express surprise that he judges of you as he has, but your
fruits have testified of you.You may
feel friendless, but if you do you may thank yourself for it.‘For 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
).”Ibid., vol. 19, 33.
26Do not talk of the deficiencies of your brethren.
sake, for your soul’s sake, I entreat you, do not talk
of the deficiencies of your brethren!Go
to work for yourself.Do not any longer
grieve the Holy Spirit of God. . . .[Psalm 15 quoted.]
ministers whom you condemn God has ordained to do a work for which He has not qualified
you.Money cannot supply your
preferences, dislikes, your sweeping condemnation of both the HealdsburgCollege and the Health Retreat, have been active influences
in encouraging fault-finding, jealousy, evil surmising throughout all the
churches.When your ideas and
expectations are not met, you have talked out your dissatisfaction, but God has
not prompted you in your independent spirit, in your accusation of His
instrumentality.There can be no
unity where such things exist.Confidence cannot live amid suspicion and evil surmisings.”Ibid., vol. 20, 97.
27Breaking the third commandment . . .
“We may make
mistakes, and we may have to ‘admonish one another.’[Romans 15:14.]But there has
come into the churches at Oakland and the surrounding community a spirit of backbiting,
of faultfinding and evil-speaking, which demonstrates that you are not
converted.Words are uttered that never
should pass the lips of a Christian.My
brethren and sisters, when you have nothing better to speak of than something
about the faults of others, remember that ‘silence is eloquence.’Cease to dwell upon the shortcomings of
others.Keep the tongue sanctified unto
God.Refrain from saying anything
that might detract from the influence of another; for by indulging in these
words of criticism, you blaspheme God’s holy name as verily as you would were
you to swear.I am instructed to present
these things before you, that you may see how you dishonor the name of Christ
Jesus.[Verses 15, 16, quoted.]”Sermons and Talks,
28Spirit of the devil.
testimony does Peter bear?‘Wherefore
laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all
evil speakings, as new born babes, desire the sincere
milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the
Lord is gracious.’[1 Peter 2:1–3.] Here again the same principle is brought out
distinctly.No one need make a
mistake.If as new born babes you desire
the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, you will have no
appetite to partake of a dish of evil speaking, that all such food will be at
once rejected, because those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious cannot
partake of a dish of nonsense, and folly, and backbiting.They will say decidedly, ‘Take this dish
away.I do not want to eat such
food.’It is not the bread from
heaven.It is eating and drinking
the very spirit of the devil; for it is his business to be an accuser of the
To be continued . . .
Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life
Ministry and pastor of the PrairieMeadowsChurch in Wichita,
Kansas.He may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com, or by
telephone at: 316-788-5559.