Few stripes - The Jews never inflicted more than forty stripes for one offence, Deuteronomy 25:3. For smaller offences they inflicted only four, five, six, etc., according to the nature of the crime. In allusion to this, our Lord says that he “that knew not” - that is, he who had comparatively little knowledge - would suffer a punishment proportionally light. He refers, doubtless, to those who have fewer opportunities, smaller gifts, or fewer teachers.
Much is given - They who have much committed to their disposal, as stewards, etc. See the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30.
Shall be beaten with few - For petty offenses the Jews in many cases inflicted so few as four, five, and six stripes. See examples in Lightfoot.
From this and the preceding verse we find that it is a crime to be ignorant of God's will; because to every one God has given less or more of the means of instruction. Those who have had much light, or the opportunity of receiving much, and have not improved it to their own salvation, and the good of others, shall have punishment proportioned to the light they have abused. On the other hand, those who have had little light, and few means of improvement, shall have few stripes, shall be punished only for the abuse of the knowledge they possessed. See at the end of the chapter.
Because great light has been given, because men have, as did the princes of Israel, ascended to the mount and been privileged to have communion with God, and been allowed to dwell in the light of His glory—for these thus favored to think that they can afterward sin, and corrupt their ways before God, and still keep on as though doing God's will, as though God would not mark sin against them because they have been thus honored of God, is a fatal deception. The great light and privileges bestowed require returns of virtue and holiness corresponding with the light given them. Anything short of this, God will not accept. TM 454.1
But these great manifestations by God should never lull to security or carelessness. They should never give license to licentiousness, or cause the recipients to feel that God will not be critical with them, because they think He is dependent on their ability and knowledge to act a part in the great work. All these advantages given by God are His means to throw ardor into the spirit, zeal into effort, and rigor into the carrying out of His holy will. TM 454.2
You, my brethren, fold your hands, and drift into evil practices, and then wait for God to work a miracle to change your characters and compel you to be pure and holy men. Will you expose yourselves wantonly to temptation, expecting God to force your mind and inclinations that you may not be corrupted? Will you take the viper to your bosom, expecting God to put a spell upon it so it will not poison you with its venomous sting? Will you drink poison, expecting God to provide an antidote? TM 454.3Read in context »
God has a work to be done which the workers have not yet fully comprehended. Ministers and the world's wise men are to be tested by the light of present truth. The third angel's message is to be set before them judiciously, in its true dignity. There must be most earnest seeking of God, most thorough study; for the mental powers will be taxed to the utmost in laying plans which will place the work of God on a more elevated platform. That is where it should always have stood, but men's narrow ideas and restricted plans have limited and lowered it.—The Review and Herald, November 25, 1890. Ev 563.1
Not All Will Accept Truth—After the most earnest efforts have been made to bring the truth before those whom God has entrusted with large responsibilities, be not discouraged if they reject the truth. They did the same in the days of Christ. Be sure to keep up the dignity of the work by well-ordered plans and a godly conversation. Do not think you have elevated the standard too high.—Letter 12, 1887. Ev 563.2
Speaking in Other Churches—You may have opportunity to speak in other churches. In improving these opportunities, remember the words of the Saviour, “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Do not arouse the malignity of the enemy by making denunciatory speeches. Thus you will close doors against the entrance of truth. Clear-cut messages are to be borne. But guard against arousing antagonism. There are many souls to be saved. Restrain all harsh expressions. In word and deed be wise unto salvation, representing Christ to all with whom you come in contact. Let all see that your feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace and good will to men. Wonderful are the results we shall see if we enter into the work imbued with the Spirit of Christ. Help will come in our necessity if we carry the work forward in righteousness, mercy, and love. Truth will triumph, and bear away the victory.—Manuscript 6, 1902. Ev 563.3Read in context »
We are all members of God's family, all in a greater or less degree entrusted with God-given talents, for the use of which we are held responsible. Whether our talent be great or small, we are to use it in God's service, and we are to recognize the right of everyone else to use the gifts entrusted to them. Never should we disparage the smallest physical, intellectual, or spiritual capital. Some may trade in pennies and farthings, and by God's blessing, and unwearied diligence, these humble ones may make successful investments, and make a gain proportionate to the capital entrusted to them. No one should make light of any humble worker, who is filling his place, and is doing a work that someone must do, however small that work may seem. TDG 345.4Read in context »
Let everyone placed in a position of trust be as much more careful how he speaks and acts, as his position is greater in responsibility than the position of his fellow workers, for those connected with the work of God can please the Master by speaking kindly only. Any word spoken thoughtlessly or unadvisedly should be retracted on the spot. If the speaker forgets to do this, or if he does not regret his thoughtlessness, someone should in the spirit of Christ remind him of his duty to apologize, for we are to remember that as Christians professing to work in unity, we must not act like sinners, whose sinful words and works, unless repented of, will condemn them.... TDG 332.4Read in context »