Look not every man on his own things - Do nothing through self-interest in the things of God; nor arrogate to yourselves gifts, graces, and fruits, which belong to others; ye are all called to promote God's glory and the salvation of men. Labor for this, and every one shall receive the honor that comes from God; and let each rejoice to see another, whom God may be pleased to use in a special way, acquiring much reputation by the successful application of his talents to the great work.
Look not every man on his own things - That is, be not selfish. Do not let your care and attention be wholly absorbed by your own concerns, or by the concerns of your own family. Evince a tender interest for the happiness of the whole, and let the welfare of others lie near your hearts. This, of course, does not mean that there is to be any improper interference in the business of others, or that we are to have the character of “busy-bodies in other people‘s matters” (compare the 2 Thessalonians 3:11, note; 1 Timothy 5:13, note; 1 Peter 4:15, note); but that we are to regard with appropriate solicitude the welfare of others, and to strive to do them good.
But every man also on the things of others - It is the duty of every man to do this. No one is at liberty to live for himself or to disregard the wants of others. The object of this rule is to break up the narrow spirit of selfishness, and to produce a benevolent regard for the happiness of others. In respect to the rule we may observe:
(1) We are not to be “busybodies” in the concerns of others; see the references above. We are not to attempt to pry into their secret purposes. Every man has his own plans, and thoughts, and intentions, which no other one has a right to look into. Nothing is more odious than a meddler in the concerns of others.
(2) we are not to obtrude our advice where it is not sought, or at unseasonable times and places, even if the advice is in itself good. No one likes to be interrupted to hear advice; and I have no right to require that he should suspend his business in order that I may give him counsel.
(3) we are not to find fault with what pertains exclusively to him. We are to remember that there are some things which are his business, not ours; and we are to learn to “possess our souls in patience,” if he does not give just as much as we think be ought to benevolent objects, or if he dresses in a manner not to please our taste, or if he indulges in things which do not accord exactly with our views. He may see reasons for his conduct which we do not; and it is possible that be may be right, and that, if we understood the whole case, we should think and act as he does. We often complain of a man because be does not give as much as we think he ought, to objects of charity; and it is possible that he may be miserably niggardly and narrow. But it is also possible that he may be more embarrassed than we know of; or that he may just then have demands against him of which we are ignorant; or that he may have numerous poor relatives dependent on him; or that he gives much with “the left hand” which is not known by “the right hand.” At any rate, it is his business, not ours; and we are not qualified to judge until we understand the whole case.
(4) we are not to be gossips about the concerns of others. We are not to hunt up small stories, and petty scandals respecting their families; we are not to pry into domestic affairs, and divulge them abroad, and find pleasure in circulating snell things from house to house. There are domestic secrets, which are not to be betrayed; and there is scarcely an offence of a meaner or more injurious character than to divulge to the public what we have seen a family whose hospitality we have enjoyed.
(5) where Christian duty and kindness require us to look into the concerns of others, there should be the utmost delicacy. Even children have their own secrets, and their own plans and amusements, on a small scale, quite as important to them as the greater games which we are playing in life; and they will feel the meddlesomeness of a busybody to be as odious to them as we should in our plans. A delicate parent, therefore, who has undoubtedly a right to know all about his children, will not rudely intrude into their privacies, or meddle with their concerns. So, when we visit the sick, while we show a tender sympathy for them, we should not be too particular in inquiring into their maladies or their feelings. So, when those with whom we sympathize have brought their calamities on themselves by their own fault, we should not ask too many questions about it. We should not too closely examine one who is made poor by intemperance, or who is in prison for crime. And so, when we go to sympathize with those who have been, by a reverse of circumstances, reduced from affluence to penury, we should not ask too many questions. We should let them tell their own story. If they voluntarily make us their confidants, and tell us all about their circumstances, it is well; but let us not drag out the circumstances, or wound their feelings by our impertinent inquiries, or our indiscreet sympathy in their affairs. There are always secrets which the sons and daughters of misfortune would wish to keep to themselves.
However, while these things are true, it is also true that the rule before us positively requires us to show an interest in the concerns of others; and it may be regarded as implying the following things:
(1) We are to feel that the spiritual interests of everyone in the church is, in a certain sense, our own interest. The church is one. It is confederated together for a common object. Each one is entrusted with a portion of the honor of the whole, and the conduct of one member affects the character of all. We are, therefore, to promote, in every way possible, the welfare of every other member of the church. If they go astray, we are to admonish and entreat them; if they are in error, we are to instruct them; if they are in trouble, we are to aid them. Every member of the church has a claim on the sympathy of his brethren, and should be certain of always finding it when his circumstances are such as to demand it.
(2) there are circumstances where it is proper to look with special interest on the temporal concerns of others. It is when the poor, the fatherless, and the afflicted must be sought out in order to be aided and relieved. They are too retiring and modest to press their situation on the attention of others, and they need that others should manifest a generous care in their welfare in order to relieve them. This is not improper interference in their concerns, nor will it be so regarded.
(3) for a similar reason, we should seek the welfare of all others in a spiritual sense. We should seek to arouse the sinner, and lead him to the Saviour. He is blind, and will not come himself; unconcerned, and will not seek salvation; filled with the love of this world, and will not seek a better; devoted to pursuits that will lead him to ruin, and he ought to be apprised of it. It is no more an improper interference in his concerns to apprise him of his condition, and to attempt to lead him to the Saviour, than it is to warn a man in a dark night, who walks on the verge of a precipice, of his peril; or to arouse one from sleep whose house is in flames. In like manner, it is no more meddling with the concerns of another to tell him that there is a glorious heaven which may be his, than it is to apprise a man that there is a mine of golden ore on his farm. It is for the man‘s own interest, and it is the office of a friend to remind him of these things. He does a man a favor who tells him that he has a Redeemer, and that there is a heaven to which he may rise; he does his neighbor the greatest possible kindness who apprises him that there is a world of infinite woe, and tells him of an easy way by which he may escape it. The world around is dependant on the church of Christ to be apprised of these truths. The frivolous ones will not warn the fools of their danger; the crowd that presses to the theater or the ballroom will not apprise those who are there that they are in the broad way to hell; and everyone who loves his neighbor, should feel sufficient interest in him to tell him that he may be eternally happy in heaven.
Elder C lost his influence and the power of the truth by engaging in speculations, and that out of his brethren. This was peculiarly offensive to God in a minister of Christ. But you have done the same. You have made Elder C's course an excuse for your love of traffic. You have justified your course of advantaging yourself, because other ministers have pursued this course. Other ministers are no criterion for you. If they injure their influence, and deprive themselves of the approbation of God and the confidence of their brethren, their course should be shunned. Christ is your example, and you have no excuse for taking the course of erring men for example unless their lives are in accordance with the life of Christ. Your influence will be death to the cause of God if you continue to pursue the course that you have pursued for a few years past. Your trafficking and trading, and gathering up from your brethren means that you have not earned, is a great sin in the sight of God. 2T 622.1
Some have really deprived themselves of means necessary for the comfort of their families, and some of even the necessaries of life, to help you, and you have received it. Paul writes to his Philippian brethren: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” He also writes to his Corinthian brethren: “Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.” Again, he mournfully says: “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.” 2T 622.2
The spirit which you cherish, of looking out for your selfish interest, is increasing upon you, and your conversation has been with covetousness. Paul admonishes his Hebrew brethren: “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.” You are sacrificing your reputation and your influence to an avaricious spirit. God's precious cause is reproached because of this spirit that has taken hold of its ministers. You are blinded and do not see how peculiarly offensive to God these things are. If you have decided to go in and get all of the world you can, do so; but do not do it under cover of preaching Christ. Your time is either devoted to the cause of God or it is not. Your own interest has been paramount. The time that you should devote to the cause of God is devoted too much to your own personal concerns, and you receive, from the treasury of God, means that you do not earn. You are willing to receive means from those who are not as comfortable as yourself. You do not look on their side and have bowels of sympathy and compassion. You do not closely investigate to see whether those who help you can afford to do so. Frequently it would be more in place for you to help those from whom you receive help. You need to be a transformed man before the work of God can prosper in your hands. Your home and farm cares have occupied your mind. You have not given yourself to the work. As an excuse for being so much at home, you have said that your children needed your presence and care, and that you must be with them in order to carry out the light given you in vision. But, Brother B, have you done this? You excuse yourself by saying that your children are now beyond your control, too old for you to command. In this you mistake. None of your children are too old to respect your authority and obey your commands while they have the shelter of your roof. How old were Eli's sons? They were married men; and Eli, as a father and a priest of God, was required to restrain them. 2T 623.1Read in context »
“The love of Christ,” said Paul, “constraineth us.” It was the actuating principle of his conduct; it was his motive power. If ever his ardor in the path of duty for a moment flagged, one glance at the cross and the amazing love of Christ revealed in His unparalleled sacrifice was enough to cause him to gird up anew the loins of his mind and press forward in the path of self-denial. In his labors for his brethren he relied much upon the exhibition of infinite love in the wonderful condescension of Christ, with all its subduing, constraining power. 4T 457.1
How earnest, how touching his appeal: “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” You know the height from which He stooped; you are acquainted with the depth of humiliation to which He descended. His feet entered upon the path of self-denial and self-sacrifice, and turned not aside until He had given His life. There was no rest for Him between the throne in heaven and the cross. His love for man led Him to welcome every indignity and suffer every abuse. “For their sakes I sanctify Myself.” I appropriate all My glory, all I am, to the work of man's redemption. How very little are men moved now to sanctify themselves to the work of God that souls may be saved through them. 4T 457.2
Paul admonishes us to “look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” He bids us imitate the life of the great Exemplar, and exhorts us to possess the mind “which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” The apostle lingers over point after point, that our minds may grasp and fully comprehend the wonderful condescension of the Saviour in behalf of sinners. He presents Christ before us as He was when equal with God and receiving the adoration of angels, and then traces His descent until He reaches the lowest depths of humiliation, that with His human arm He may reach fallen man and lift him from his degradation to hope, joy, and heaven. 4T 457.3Read in context »
If we are following Christ, His merits, imputed to us, come up before the Father as sweet odor. And the graces of our Saviour's character, implanted in our hearts, will shed around us a precious fragrance. The spirit of love, meekness, and forbearance pervading our life will have power to soften and subdue hard hearts and win to Christ bitter opposers of the faith. 5T 174.1
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” 5T 174.2
Vainglory, selfish ambition, is the rock upon which many souls have been wrecked and many churches rendered powerless. Those who know least of devotion, who are least connected with God, are the ones who will most eagerly seek the highest place. They have no sense of their weakness and their deficiencies of character. Unless many of our young ministers shall feel the converting power of God, their labors will be a hindrance rather than a help to the church. They may have learned the doctrines of Christ, but they have not learned Christ. The soul that is constantly looking unto Jesus will see His self-denying love and deep humility, and will copy His example. Pride, ambition, deceit, hatred, selfishness, must be cleansed from the heart. With many these evil traits are partially subdued, but not thoroughly uprooted from the heart. Under favorable circumstances they spring up anew and ripen into rebellion against God. Here lies a terrible danger. To spare any sin is to cherish a foe that only awaits an unguarded moment to cause our ruin. 5T 174.3Read in context »