Sabbath Message by Wade Cox

Sabbath 6/8/28/120

Dear Friends,

At the Feast in Niagara I gave the message on the Second Great Commandment (No. 257). At the Feast of Tabernacles I pointed out that we were being judged on that issue of brotherly love. If we wished to be a part of the Philadelphian system of the Last Days then we had to take that responsibility to heart. Philadelphia means brotherly love. It is the hallmark of that church system and that system takes its name and is defined by this characteristic. The texts are identified in the Book of the Revelation of God to Jesus Christ in chapter 3.

It is a true statement that the Feast of the Reading of the Law in the twenty-first year of the Jubilee, or 1998, was centered on the First Great Commandment and we were tested on that aspect. The tests came from without. This year we were tested on the Second Great Commandment and the tests came often from within. These trials did not just come from Niagara but were to be found all around the world.

The Feast was a great success. Many people were consolidated in the faith. Many new people saw the Reading of the Law for the first time and felt first hand the interaction of the Church. One of our people said to me that it far exceeded her expectations. Many said that they had never experienced anything like it in their many years in the faith. One person said that unless you had been there you would never be able to understand how important it was and what it was really like.

Notwithstanding the general success, there were a number of trials that eventuated, as is often the case with any group of people. In Africa there were direct attacks on the Church by people claiming or trying to be part of us. Those attacks were weathered and the Church was consolidated. Others faced problems with health and other issues. For some, isolation was a problem. The attacks in Niagara were more subtle and the adversary used our weaknesses and thoughtlessness against us.

Some people gave offence not knowing they were offending. The Bible says: “Do not answer a fool according to their folly” and then contradicts that statement by telling us then to: “Answer a fool according to their folly.”

Which is correct? The answer is that both are appropriate depending on the circumstances. We have to judge the circumstances. Also humour is often nation specific. Dry British humour is not understood by some people and Americans can sometimes misunderstand that sort even though many respond to it readily. The key is to understand what it is that is being said to you and to know what is appropriate. You can give offence by simple statements. The real key is to guard your tongue and not to make foolish statements so as to cause offence. Love also suffers long and does not take offence but sometimes people are down or sensitive and can be hurt more easily at certain times. I gave offence in returning a comment at the feast and it was misunderstood. I was sorry that I had given the offence. I had not meant to do that and my comment was misconstrued. I also made a statement regarding the taking of photos and later was approached by a man who was concerned that I might have been speaking of him. I was not and I told him so. He did the right thing by raising it with me and clearing the air, and to his relief. Don’t always assume that every comment relates to you. You are not the center of the actual universe. This raises the important issue of going to your brother.

When we have a problem it is always the best thing to go firstly to you brother and speak with the person first. Do not whisper and do not make assertions regarding anyone that are not absolutely true and which you have first raised with them. The procedures are all laid down in the Bible texts. Also, do not raise an issue with someone in the presence of someone else. You are asking for trouble.

We should all try to help each other and not to give offence. When advice is offered we should look to the advice and examine ourselves to see where we can improve. Iron sharpens iron. We should be able to take criticism without being offended. But it is much easier to take it if it is obviously given in loving kindness and brotherly concern. If you are speaking with someone, then make sure it is given in kindness.

If it does not need to be given then don’t jump in. Also, unless you have been asked, don’t offer criticism of your own accord unless it is obviously appropriate.

We have an obligation to love all of the brethren and to seek to help them. Sometimes some people are easier to love from a distance. Try not to have people think that of you. Do not give offence willingly.

Also, do not assume that people always have ulterior motives for their actions. The vast majority of people don’t think about what they do enough, much less deliberately set out to hurt or dig pits for others. The Bible is clear about what happens to those that do dig pits. They will fall into it themselves and catch themselves on the own snares getting out.

This feast was all about brotherly love and the capacity to work together as a Church. Most of us were tested on some aspect of that command. Think about how you reacted. Did you get more exercise jumping to conclusions than anything else? Did you listen to gossip and have only half the truth. Did you carry tales when you should have spoken only with your brother?

Make no mistake; we were all tested on some of these aspects. Take a lesson from the little trials of this feast as it was, in microcosm, an example of the continual problems we all face on a daily basis.

Did you return from the feast eager to take up your relations with your fellow brethren in love and concern for their ongoing welfare? Did you tell them how you missed them and were pleased to see them again? If you did not do that, then you had better examine your own position. Repent and do that now. If you were at the feast with them, then share the positive experiences and make amends for the negative if there were some.

Most people had only positive experiences but may have experienced some in others that were not as positive. Encourage one another and whatsoever is good, true and wholesome then think on those things. Read the “Love chapter” of 1Corinthians 13.

If you do not love your brothers whom you have seen, how can you love God whom you have not seen?

Do not be ready to believe ill of anyone. Do not bear tales against your neighbour. Support your leaders and speak ill of no one. Love is a positive thing that you show other people by demonstration. Be kind to all men and love the brethren. By this attribute the world will know that you are God’s true ambassadors.

Wade Cox

Coordinator General


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