Greetings MOL Family
As we continue with our study on God’s beautiful way, there are two things that I would like you to think about…
Love versus Rivalry
… One is that conversion takes place on the point of a test. That is why Jesus brought the rich young ruler to a test. What was the test? Go and do what? Sell all he had and give to the poor and come and follow Jesus. Did he meet the test? No. If he had been willing to open his heart to Jesus, would Jesus have given him the grace and the love and the power to do the thing that Christ had commanded? Yes. Conversion takes place on the point of a test. The Sabbath is a great test. There are many other tests.
The second thing is this, that even though we grow up in a Christian home, the child sooner or later comes to the point of his test, his individual test, and no amount of Christian experience on the part of the parents can take the place of being born again, having a change of heart in the experience of the child, the youth. No matter how the little child has entered into a Christian experience with his father and mother, as he comes into the stormy years of the teens, one way or another he is going to face a test, my friends. And it is how he meets that test that affects the whole afterlife. Oh, I am so glad that God understands all that, and how wonderfully He works, looking ahead to prepare us.
You know, when I was a boy, my parents, of course, were Adventists, and I grew up going to Sabbath School and learning the lessons. And I had a Christian experience off and on of a sort, sometimes failing, sometimes being blessed. About the time I was entering my teens, somebody called my attention to something in the Spirit of Prophecy that I couldn’t understand and that I didn’t like at all. The Spirit of Prophecy did not recommend baseball and tennis. In Outline Studies from the Testimonies, in note two of the appendix, I read statements like this:
God ordained that the beings He created should work. Upon this their happiness depends. Healthy young men and women have no need of cricket, ball playing, or any kind of amusement just for the gratification of self to pass away the time. – Youth Instructor, January 31, 1901
And then in note three:
To spend money which is so hard to obtain on materials with which to play tennis and cricket is not in harmony with the testimonies which have been given to our school in Battle Creek….
It has been understood in all through our ranks that these games are not the proper education to be given in any of our schools. – Manuscript Releases, Volume 8, pg. 74
And I thought, “My, I wonder, what that means.” Because, I will tell you, my dear friends, I was a great lover of competitive activity; whether in the schoolroom, on the playground, or any place. If I could beat, that was really glorious. And I quite often did beat. I remember a few years before this experience when I was eight years old, the 4th of July picnic in Phoenix, Arizona. It gets hot in Arizona, you know, in the summertime; and the Sabbath School was having a picnic out on the banks of a canal. I remember, those in charge of the recreation had different activities planned, and among them were some races. And there was one race for eight-year-old boys.
I was eight years old, so I could enter that race. We lined up. One can remember certain things looking back over the years, and I can vividly see the man that was starting the race. He said, “Now, boys, I am going to hold my cap here, and I am going to drop it, and when it hits the dirt, you’re off. Run up there to a certain place and back, and the one that gets here first gets a dish of ice cream.”
Oh, how we did run, and how I did run. I ran up there and ran back, and sure enough, I got there first. I won. Of course, I got the dish of ice cream. You can imagine, over 100 degrees in the shade, I was enjoying that. But you know what I enjoyed most? The winning. I had won. I beat. I was first. Of course, the other poor little fellows didn’t get any dish of ice cream. They weren’t enjoying the results of it; just me.
I have thought of it many a time since, friends. Who would invent a plan in which, in order for one person to be happy, a dozen others have to be made miserable? Isn’t that a strange invention? “Well,” you say, “nothing strange about that. That is the way life is.”
Yes, that is the way life is, friends, in a dog-eat-dog world. That is the way life is as the enemy has arranged things. That is part of the thorns and briars, some of the tares that have been sown in the fields.
Well, back to my experience when I was 14. As I say, I read this, but I’m sorry to say, I didn’t quit playing games for a while. I didn’t understand it. And frankly, one of the reasons that it was difficult, I knew hardly anybody that believed it or was doing it. Anybody that I knew was playing baseball or tennis or any one of a dozen other things.
But, there came a time when, as the Lord spoke to my heart, I said, “All right Lord, I will do it if that is what you say.” And so I did. And the next year in school, I was the only boy in that school who didn’t play baseball. And I really didn’t know much about why I didn’t, except what I had read here. And the other fellows didn’t bother me much about it, and I didn’t bother them. But I had a wonderful experience in having some prayer bands, and a number of the boys found the Lord.
The next year I was in a smaller school, much smaller school, very few students of my age. I had read in the Testimonies that the teachers should sometimes join with the little children in their sports and play, so I proceeded to do that. The little children having their simple little games, games that were not forbidden in the Spirit of Prophecy, and that led on to other things. And I remember the day that one of the boys brought a ball and bat to school. And I thought “Well, last year in that other school, I didn’t play baseball.” But I said to myself, “I declare, I don’t see much difference between what they are playing here in baseball and this Send Out and Dare Base.” So, for a while, I just sort of helped on the side, and I was with the younger students. But, do you know, it wasn’t many weeks before I was into it up to my eyebrows. I could hardly wait for recess to get out there on the ball ground and have a wonderful time, especially if my side could beat, to win (because that is the fun of it, you know).
There are people who tell me that one of the great things in athletic sports is to learn to be a good loser. Well, friends, I never did learn that. I never reached the place where I could take any satisfaction unless I won. That year went on, and I was strong on this competitive athletics and weaker and weaker in my Christian experience.
So, the next year, I said, “Lord, I must go back. I must go back to the simple statements in the books.” And even though I didn’t understand the reasons, I said “I must do that.” So, I started in having prayer bands again and put the other aside. But in the providence of God, that year in our Bible class, the textbook along with the Bible was Desire of Ages. As I studied Desire of Ages in the Bible class and saw the great controversy between Christ and satan, two great principles opened up to my mind: love on the one hand, selfish rivalry and contest on the other. Jesus was the example of loving, self-sacrifice, who always did things to bless others.
Lucifer, changed to satan, was the example of the one who was determined to beat no matter who had to be torn down so he could be built up. And as those two principles opened up to my mind, it was just as clear as could be why the Spirit of Prophecy said, don’t do this, don’t play that. I saw the reasons, and it appealed to my soul.
In our English class that year, I was given the opportunity to write an outline, and I chose as my subject, The Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of Contest. And it is that what I want to study with you, as the Lord gave it to me years ago when I was a teenager. And may I say, dear friends, just a few years later, I was thrilled one day as I opened the “Review and Herald”, and here was a long article from the General Conference secretary of education, Professor W.E. Howe. As he presented this same wonderful subject from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy (and from human experience), how it thrilled my soul. It is the “Review and Herald of March 25, 1926”.
The original article was called, “Working to the Pattern in Christian Education.” Here is a little from his statements:
“Natural play is a natural instinct of the child.” – Professor W.E. Howe, Review and Herald of March 25, 1926
Then he mentions how the normal child loves to imitate what its father and mother are doing. A little child likes to make mud pies or have a toy train, and do this or that – imitating work. But as he gets older, he naturally enjoys doing the real thing. Then he says:
“There is another kind of thing that the world calls play, namely the game. Though often used loosely, a game proper is a contest. The spirit of it is the spirit of competition, of beating the other fellow, either by surprising him in exploit, or by attaining the ultimate of putting him out of action. It exalts the victor and humiliates the loser. While natural play is an imitation of work, this artificial play represented in the game is an imitation of fight, an imitation of war. The spirit of natural play is the spirit of work. The spirit of the game is the spirit of war.” – Professor W.E. Howe, Review and Herald of March 25, 1926
And you can imagine how, as a 20-year-old boy, I read this and it thrilled my soul that there was somebody else, somebody in the General Conference, that had studied these things up and had written them out, and they were published in the Review. And friends, let me tell you this. No matter who you are or how little you may be, if you find something in the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy that Jesus tells you to do, it will be safe for you to do it. You can be humble about it and not bother and pester other people. But if you will go ahead and do what Jesus tells you to do, at the right time, you will have all the backing you want, friends, all the backing that you want, if you just do what He says.
Choose ye which way ye will go…
Next week, we will continue in our study to understand the difference between the beautiful, loving way that God has ordained, versus the contentious and rival ways of the enemy. Invite a friend, and we’ll see you then…
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* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.