The Coming New Year
by Ellen White
ANOTHER year has almost passed into eternity; 1884 is almost dead; 1885 will soon be
here. Let us review the record of the year that so soon will be past. What advancement
have we made in Christian experience? Our work--have we so done it that it will bear the
inspection of the Master, who has given to every man work according to his several
ability? Will it be consumed as hay, wood, and stubble, unworthy of preservation? or will
it stand the trial by fire?
The need of fidelity is overlooked by many. There is a great deal to be done in this
world--not in our way, but in God's way--for the benefit of those for whom Christ has
died; but if this is done negligently or imperfectly, "Wanting" will be written
against our names in the book of heavenly records. God is not pleased with any work unless
it is done in the very best way possible. Every provision has been made that we may attain
a height of stature in Christ Jesus that will meet the divine standard. God is not pleased
with His representatives if they are content to be dwarfs when they might grow up to the
full stature of men and women in Christ. He wants you to have height and breadth in
Christian experience. He wants you to have great thoughts, noble aspirations, clear
perceptions of truth, and lofty purposes of action. Every passing year should increase the
soul's yearning for purity and perfection of Christian character. And if this knowledge
increases day by day, month by month, year by year, it will not be work consumed as hay,
wood, and stubble; but it will be laying on the foundation stone, gold, silver, and
precious stones--works that are not perishable, but which will stand the fires of the last
day. Is our earthly, temporal work done with a thoroughness, a fidelity, that will bear
scrutiny? Are there those whom we have wronged who will testify against us in the day of
God? If so, the record has passed up to heaven, and we shall meet it again. We are to work
for the great Taskmaster's eye, whether our painstaking efforts are seen and appreciated
by men or not. No man, woman, nor child can acceptably serve God with neglectful,
haphazard, sham work, whether it be secular or religious service. The true Christian will
have an eye single to the glory of God in all things, encouraging His purposes and
strengthening His principles with this thought, "I do this for Christ."
If all who profess to be servants of Christ are faithful in that which is least, they
will be faithful in much. If there are debts yet unpaid, make special efforts to pay them.
If you have run up accounts at the provision store or with the dry-goods merchant, settle
them if you possibly can. If you cannot, go to those to whom you are indebted, and frankly
tell them the impossibility of meeting these demands; renew your note, and assure them you
will cancel the debt as soon as you can. Then deny yourselves of everything you can do
without, and be very economical in your expenditures, until your promises are fulfilled.
Do not indulge yourselves in the use of other men's money for the sake of gratifying
appetite or a love of display. You may thus remove a stumbling block whereby many were
hindered from believing the truth; and your good will not be evil spoken of. Will not our
brethren make diligent efforts to correct this slack, haphazard way of doing business? The
old year is fast passing; it is nearly gone. Make the most of the few days remaining.
The Chinese New Year commences in February, and lasts one week. They have a custom of
settling all quarrels between themselves and all outstanding debts; and if there are any
who are unable to pay their debts, they are forgiven them. Thus the new year is commenced
with all difficulties and accounts settled. This is a heathen custom that the Christian
world would do well to imitate. God's law requires all this of us, and more--we are to
love our neighbour as ourselves. That is, we are to deal with our neighbours in everything
just as we would wish them to deal with us. If we wish them to act fairly and justly
toward us, then we should act fairly and justly toward them. We are simply to do as we
would be done by.
In every matter of deal between men, the conduct of each is a fair transcript of his
character. If a man is upright in the sight of God, his dealings will be upright in the
sight of his fellow men. His integrity is not a matter of doubt; it shines forth as purest
gold refined by fire. Has he money for which he has no immediate use? He does not take
advantage of the necessities of his poorer brother to require more than a fair
compensation. He will not require exorbitant interest because he can take advantage of the
situation. A truly honest man will never take advantage of the distress of another to add
to his own store; for in the end it would be a great loss. As far as principle is
concerned, it would be just as criminal in the sight of God as for him to enter his
neighbour's house and steal so much gold or silver. The customs and maxims of the world
are not to be our criterion, unless by the Word of God we can prove them to be right.
"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is
unjust in the least is unjust also in much." Luke 16:10. It is not the greatness or
insignificance of an action that makes it honest or dishonest. God requires that in all
our transactions we pursue the straight line of duty.
If we have but little time, let us improve that little earnestly. The Bible assures us
that we are in the Great Day of Atonement. The typical Day of Atonement was a day when all
Israel afflicted their souls before God, confessed their sins, and came before the Lord
with contrition of soul, remorse for their sins, genuine repentance, and living faith in
the atoning sacrifice.
If there have been difficulties, brethren and sisters--if envy, malice, bitterness,
evil surmisings, have existed, confess these sins, not in a general way, but go to your
brethren and sisters personally. Be definite. If you have committed one wrong and they
twenty, confess that one as though you were the chief offender. Take them by the hand, let
your heart soften under the influence of the Spirit of God, and say, "Will you
forgive me? I have not felt right toward you. I want to make right every wrong, that
naught may stand registered against me in the books of heaven. I must have a clean
record." Who, think you, would withstand such a movement as this? There is too much
coldness and indifference--too much of the "I don't care" spirit--exercised
among the professed followers of Christ. All should feel a care for one another, jealously
guarding each other's interests. "Love one another." John 13:34. Then we should
stand a strong wall against Satan's devices. Amid opposition and persecution we would not
join the vindictive ones, not unite with the followers of the great rebel, whose special
work is to accuse the brethren, to defame and cast stain upon their characters.
Let the remnant of this year be improved in destroying every fibre of the root of
bitterness, burying them in the grave with the old year. Begin the new year with more
tender regard, with deeper love, for every member of the Lord's family. Press together.
"United, we stand; divided, we fall." Take a higher, nobler stand than you ever
Many appear to be steadfast in the truth, firm, decided on every point of our faith;
yet there is a great lack in them--the tenderness and love which marked the character of
the great Pattern. If a brother errs from the truth, if he falls into temptation, they
make no effort to restore him in meekness, considering themselves lest they also be
tempted. They seem to regard it as their special work to climb upon the judgement seat and
condemn and disfellowship. They do not obey God's word, which says, "Ye which are
spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness." Galatians 6:1. The spirit
of this passage is altogether too rare in our churches. It is the lack of it that shuts
out the Spirit of God from the heart, from the home, from the church. Shall we not
henceforth practice the Bible plan of restoring erring ones in the spirit of meekness?
Shall we not have the spirit of Jesus, and work as He worked?
Keep back that disposition to crowd out a brother, even if you think him unworthy, even
if he has hindered your work by manifesting a spirit of independence and wilfulness.
Remember that he is God's property. Err always on the side of mercy and tenderness. Treat
with respect and deference even your most bitter enemies, who would injure you if they
could. Let not a word escape your lips that would give them opportunity to justify their
course in the least degree. Give no occasion to any man to blaspheme the name of God or
speak disrespectfully of our faith for anything you have done. We need to be wise as the
serpent, and harmless as the dove.
The old year is in its death struggle; let all wrath, malice, and bitterness die with
it. Through hearty confession, let your sins go beforehand to judgement. Devote the
remaining moments of the swift passing year to humiliation of self rather than trying to
humiliate your brethren. With the new year, commence the work of lifting them up--commence
it even in the waning moments of the old year. Go to work anew, brethren and sisters--go
to work earnestly, unselfishly, lovingly, striving to lift up the hands that hang down, to
strengthen the feeble knees, remove the heavy burdens from every soul. Let the oppressed
go free, and break every yoke. Bring to your homes the poor that are cast out. "Then
shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily:
and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rearward.
Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I
am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger,
and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the
afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the
noonday: And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and
make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water,
whose waters fail not." Isaiah 58:8-11.
Brethren in every church, will you follow the conditions God has specified, and prove
the Lord, and see if He will fulfil His promises? I believe He will. I have not the shadow
of a doubt of it. He will do just as He has said He would, and the exceedingly broad
promises of rich blessings will be realised if we but comply with the conditions. Your
heads may be hard and sound, but let not this hardness steal into your hearts. If you will
fall on the Rock and be broken, then your self-righteousness will no longer exist. There
will be instead soft, impressible hearts, kind, tender, true hearts, like that of Jesus,
who was ever touched with human woe. You will weep with those who weep, and mourn with
those who mourn. Try it, brethren; God's way is always best. You have tried your own way
very perseveringly, and it does not work for the prosperity, union, and upbuilding of the
church. Therefore let us no longer think our own plan the right one, climbing upon the
judgement seat; but let us in the spirit of God bear the testimony He has given us to
bear, receiving the melting love of God in our hearts while we speak plain truths to tear
away the veil of deception from the eyes of those in error, giving instead the earnest,
sincere, genuine love of Jesus.
This work of confession must be done sooner or later. Shall it not be done in the dying
hours of the old year? Shall we not put away our sins by confession, and let them go
beforehand to judgement? Shall we not strive now as we never have before, that we may
commence the new year with a clean record? Shall we not individually take hold of this
long neglected work, humbling our souls before God, that "pardon"--blessed
pardon--may be written opposite our names? Shall we not be truly Christians--Christlike?
Try it in every church. Have special meetings when you can--meetings of humiliation, of
afflicting the soul--meetings where the rubbish shall be cleared away from the door of the
heart, that the blessed Saviour may enter. What a wonderful time the dying of the old year
and the birth of the new might be! If we individually try to do what we can on our part,
God is faithful that hath promised, and He will fulfil on His part abundantly more than
you can ask or even think. Let no more moments be wasted. Let us now arise, and make
earnest efforts to cherish the subduing love of Jesus. We need to be melted over, that the
dross may be removed. We need to learn in Christ's school meekness and lowliness of heart,
drawing closer and closer to Jesus.
The prevalent evils in our homes are faultfinding and censure, placing the worst
construction upon words and motives. This is discouraging to the children, frequently
causing them to give up their efforts to do right. If words of commendation were spoken,
when they could be justly, it would show them that their efforts were appreciated, and
teach them justice. If mistakes and defects are continually pointed out, often
impatiently, and sometimes in the white heat of anger; if no kindly notice is taken of any
improvement or progress, the children become disheartened. They feel that they are treated
mercilessly, that they are left to struggle along without appreciation or encouragement.
Shall not this state of things be changed? It must if parents want their children to enjoy
The same difficulties exist in the church. Many have fainted and become discouraged in
the great struggle of life whom one word of kindly cheer and courage would have
strengthened to overcome. Never, never become heartless, cold, unsympathising, and
censorious. Never lose an opportunity to say words that encourage and inspire hope. We
cannot tell how far-reaching may be our tender words of kindness, our Christlike efforts
to lighten some burden. My brethren and sisters, come to your high calling.
Jesus, precious Jesus! How dear the name! How soul-inspiring! Jesus never suppressed
one syllable of the truth; but He uttered it always in love. He exercised the greatest
tact and thoughtful, kind attention in His intercourse with the people. He was never rude,
never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did
not censure human weakness. He spoke the truth always, but in love. When He denounced
hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity, it was not in tones of thunder; but tears were in His
voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. He wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, who
refused to receive Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. They had rejected Him, the
Saviour; but He regarded them with pitying tenderness, and sorrow so deep that it broke
His heart. His life was one of self-denial and thoughtful care for others. He never made
truth cruel, but manifested a wonderful tenderness for humanity. Every soul was precious
in His eyes. He always bore Himself with divine dignity; yet he bowed with the tenderest
compassion and regard to every member of the family of God. He saw in all, fallen souls
whom it was His mission to save.
Oh, how many fail in acting out their own peculiar temperament! They arouse in others a
spirit of antagonism, and the worst feelings of opposition and enmity. Why should anyone
show disrespect to one who differs with him in doctrine? Agree with everyone on every
subject you can. Admit it when he is right; for the acknowledgement will greatly help to
draw him nearer to you. He will then have no occasion to think you consider your own
opinions infallible, or that you look upon him with contempt.
As workers for Christ, we want sanctified tact. Study to be skilful when there are no
rules to meet the case. Win hearts, not repulse them. In this kind of work more than in
any other that can be undertaken, you need wisdom from above. Many souls have been turned
in the wrong direction, and thus lost to the cause of God, by want of skill and wisdom in
the worker. Tact, wisdom, and good judgement in the labourer in the cause of God increase
his usefulness one hundred fold. If he can only speak the right words, and manifest the
right spirit at the right time, it will exert a melting power on the heart of the needy
one. To be workers for the Master, we must be educated in the school of Christ. All
harshness, all denunciation and criticism, must be put away. As brethren let us love one
another, then we shall not scatter abroad but gather with Christ.
The evil tendencies of mankind are hard to overcome. The battles are tedious. Every
soul in the strife knows how severe, how bitter, are these contests. Everything about
growth in grace is difficult, because the standard and maxims of the world are constantly
interposed between the soul and God's holy standard. The Lord would have us elevated,
ennobled, purified, by carrying out the principles underlying His great moral standard,
which will test every character in the great day of final reckoning. But God does not
require us to impose upon ourselves taxing exactions which torture the bodies He has made
for a wise use. We are to glorify Him in the use of our every capacity. Self-imposed
cruelty to the flesh is not an offering acceptable to God; it is a sacrifice not required.
But to cherish kindness and love for one another is wholly acceptable to Him--a sweet
savour. The glorious gifts God has bestowed upon us are to be used in His service, not
abused as though self-torture would pay a ransom for our souls. The living sacrifice of
the living affections--a working of the works of righteousness--will meet the mind of God.
We may bring--He requires us to bring--our natural endowments and our acquired, educated
powers to His feet. He will accept them at our hands, and return them to us sanctified, to
be used in blessing others.
The precious hours are passing. My soul is drawn out in deep, earnest, anxious interest
in your behalf. As an ambassador of Christ, I implore you to commence your work
intelligently. Pick up the ravelling ends, and bind them off for time and for eternity. It
is not too late yet for wrongs to be righted; and while Jesus, our Mediator, is pleading
in our behalf, let us do our part of the work. Love God with all thy heart and thy
neighbour as thyself. Let us confess and forsake our sins that we may find pardon. Let
those who have robbed God in tithes and offerings now come before Him and make
restitution. The question is asked, "Will a man rob God?" (Malachi 3:8) as
though it was not a possible thing for one to do so great a crime; but if God has ever
spoken through me, there has been grievous robbery from Him in tithes and offerings.
Brethren, 1884 is almost gone. Improve its few remaining moments in making restitution
for wrongs. Make thorough work for eternity. Every act, every word, must stand the test of
the judgement. Set your hearts in order. Set your house in order. Make thorough work while
Jesus is ministering in the sanctuary. Let not these appeals be given in vain. God's
treasury has been robbed of thousands of dollars, and this neglect stands registered
against you in the books of heaven.
Let there be meetings in every church; and let ample opportunity be given to all to
humble themselves before God, and confess their sins, that they may receive the peace of
pardon. When we will bring our hearts into unity with Christ, and our lives into harmony
with His work, the Spirit that descended on the day of Pentecost will fall on us. We shall
be strong in Christ's strength, and be filled with the fullness of God. Then the new year
will be welcomed by us all as the commencement of a year of higher, better principles. We
shall give ourselves to Christ, making an unreserved consecration of all our property, all
our capacities, to His service. We shall make good our profession of faith; we shall serve
God by serving those who need our help. Then we shall let our light shine forth in good
works. God help you to commence the new year with a clean, unspotted record. May you live
pure, holy lives, that, whether young or old, they may be beautiful and happy, because
Christ is reflected in your characters. Review and Herald, December 16, 1884. The original title is "The New