True Standards of Christian Excellence
As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:15, 16.
It is the design of God that improvement shall be the lifework of all His people, and that in all their aims they should be guided and controlled by Christian principle and correct experience. But many fail to understand the true object of life; and under the influence of cherished errors, they sacrifice all there is of life that is really valuable. The true man is one who is willing to sacrifice his own interest for the good of others, and who forgets himself in ministering to their happiness.
Intellect is a mightier force than wealth or physical power. If sanctified and controlled by the Spirit of God, it can exert a powerful influence for good. Yet intellect alone does not make the man, according to the divine standard. When made a minister of vice, great intellect is a curse to the possessor and to all within its influence.
One’s claim to a true manhood must be determined by the use of the powers which God has given him. Lord Byron had rare intellectual gifts; but he was not a man, according to God’s standard.... This man was one of the world’s distinguished men; still the Lord acknowledged him only as one who had abused his God-given talents. Many others whom God endowed with giant minds, and whom the world called great men, rallied under the banner of Satan, and used the gifts of God for the perversion of truth and of destruction of the souls of men....
In contrast with the lives of such men is that of Martin Luther. He was not born a prince. He wore no royal crown. From a cloistered cell his voice was heard, and his influence felt. He had a noble, generous heart, as well as a vigorous intellect, and all his powers were exercised for the good of humanity. He stood bravely for truth and right, and breasted the world’s opposition to benefit his fellow men.
That which will bless humanity is spiritual life. If the man is in harmony with God, he will depend continually upon Him for strength. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” It should be our lifework to press forward continually toward the perfection of Christian character, ever striving for conformity to the will of God, remembering that the efforts begun upon earth will continue throughout eternity. God has set before the human family an elevated standard, and he who is true to his God-given manhood will not only promote the happiness of his fellow creatures in this life, but will aid them to secure an eternal reward in the life to come.—The Signs of the Times, June 17, 1886.
From Reflecting Christ - Page 158