Excerpts from the Writings of Ellen White
Summary: The church has nearly lost the spirit of self-denial and sacrifice; they make self and self-interest first.
I asked the angel why simplicity had been shut out from the church, and pride and exaltation had come in. Said the angel: Look ye, and ye shall see that this feeling prevails: Am I my brother’s keeper? Again said the angel: Thou art thy brother’s keeper. Thy profession, thy faith, requires thee to deny thyself and sacrifice to God, or thou wilt be unworthy of eternal life; for it was purchased for thee dearly. . . .
I saw that many in different places, East and West, were adding farm to farm, and land to land, and house to house, and they make the cause of God their excuse, saying they do this that they may help the cause. They shackle themselves so that they can be of but little benefit to the cause. . . . Their time is so occupied that they can spare but little time to pray, and serve God, and gain strength from Him to overcome their besetments. . . . They flatter themselves that this course is right, that they will use the avails in the cause, when they are actually laying up treasure here. They love the truth in word, but not in work.
They love the cause just as much as their works show. They love the world more and the cause of God less; the attraction to earth grows stronger and the attraction to heaven weaker. Their heart is with their treasure. By their example they say to those around them that they are intending to stay here, that this world is their home. . . .
Said the angel: Their time to do will soon be past. Their works show that self is their idol, and to it they sacrifice.
I saw that the church has nearly lost the spirit of self-denial and sacrifice; they make self and self-interest first, and then they do for the cause what they think they can as well as not. Such a sacrifice, I saw, is lame, and not accepted of God. All should be interested to do their utmost to advance the cause. I saw that those who have no property, but have strength of body, are accountable to God for their strength. They should be diligent in business and fervent in spirit; they should not leave those that have possessions to do all the sacrificing. I saw that they can sacrifice, and that it is their duty to do so, as well as those who have property. But often those that have no possessions do not realize that they can deny themselves in many ways, can lay out less upon their bodies, and to gratify their tastes and appetites, and find much to spare for the cause, and thus lay up a treasure in heaven. I saw that there is loveliness and beauty in the truth; but take away the power of God, and it is powerless.