“A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work.” (Ellen White, Review and Herald, March 22, 1887).

This particular quotation is often and appropriately heard these days amid a renewed quest for revival and reformation within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “True godliness” is our goal.

But what exactly is that? Everybody has his or her own opinion or conviction. What does Scripture say?

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

Do you catch the Biblical priority order there for anyone interested in experiencing a revival of true godliness? Task number one is to care for hurting people in trouble with selfless service for the Savior, both within our churches and in our communities. And while meeting the needs of a lost world, we must also avoid getting contaminated with its evil—loving the sinner while hating the sin, as is often said.

Too often those seeking revival become so obsessed in keeping themselves and their churches separate from the world that they overlook the primary purpose of true religion—relief of human suffering, not by condescending hand-outs but by coming close to people. By visiting them in their trouble we draw them into our fellowship. Keeping this in mind would transform self-centered, self-righteous, isolationist churches into living, loving communities of the Spirit that experience true reformation.

Such a revival would also generate evangelism within our churches, winning friends, neighbors and relatives who previously had been unimpressed by our doctrines.

Jesus said, “By this shall all humanity know that you are my disciples, because of the love you have for one another” (John 13:35).

So then love and compassion are core components to revival and reformation as well as evangelism for God’s Spirit-filled remnant.