The Review and Herald

169/1902

January 4, 1881

The House of the Lord

[This article was read before the church at Battle Creek, on the occasion of a meeting to adopt the best methods to raise means to pay the debt on the tabernacle. The principles set forth being of general application, it is given in the Review. J.W.]

EGW

“How much owest thou unto my Lord?” Let this question come home to every heart. All that we possess, all that we are, we owe to our Redeemer. He gives us every earthly blessing, and every spiritual good. Are we, by self-denial and sacrifice, doing all in our power to relieve the needy, and to sustain the cause of God? The poor are the Lord's, and the cause of religion is his. Every good thing we enjoy was placed in our hands by his bountiful mercy, as an expression of his love. Christ requires us to do as he has done,—deny self that we may be laborers together with God. RH January 4, 1881, par. 1

The new year is right upon us, and we should recount the blessings of the past, the favors we have received of God, and then bring to the Lord our freewill-offerings, our thank-offerings, and our sin-offerings. The Sabbath-keepers at Battle Creek have been a liberal people; most of them are poor, but as they have manifested liberality in the past, we hope they will pursue the same course in the future. There are but few who cannot do something. If it costs the poor greater self-denial than it does the rich, the reward will be proportionate. The Lord's bounties are continually flowing in upon us, and he would have us to be living channels, through which his mercies may flow out in deeds of beneficence to our fellow-men. In no case let us rob God. RH January 4, 1881, par. 2

We have the privilege of listening to God's word in our place of worship; but this building, called the Lord's house, has a heavy debt. Shall not we who worship in this commodious edifice put forth earnest efforts to do our share in lifting the debt from the Tabernacle? The poor may be encouraged by the thought that the smallest sums, given in sincerity and cheerfulness, are as acceptable to God as are the thousands cast into the treasury by the rich. There are but few as poor as the widow who gave her two mites as an offering to God. The gift was small, yet it was all her living, and she was commended by the Master. He regarded the two mites of the poor widow as a greater contribution than the rich gifts of the wealthy. He did not measure the value of the offering by its amount, but by the motive, the cheerfulness and purity of the action. Although this small contribution was mingled with the thousands in the treasury, it was not lost to the eye of the great Giver of all good. That little rill which started in the two mites has gathered to itself other tiny streams from thousands of sources, and has had an influence to rebuke selfishness and encourage the giving of larger sums. RH January 4, 1881, par. 3

All have a work to do, if they would make their life a blessing. We ask our brethren and sisters to act their part as nobly this year as they did last year in contributing toward our house of worship. Open your hearts, and open your purses, and do what you can. Freely and continuously our Redeemer bestows his gifts upon us. Ought we not, then, to give back to the Lord his own? Can we exercise a greater love than God has shown toward us? He has done all that he can do for our good. He appeals to us whether he has left anything undone which our highest interests demand: “Judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it?” We cannot express our gratitude to God by bestowing anything to enrich him, for he is the giver of all our mercies; but he points us to the poor and the afflicted, and to his cause in all its branches, and assures us that he accepts the good done to the least of his followers as if done to himself. God has manifested a deep interest in the welfare of the fallen sons of Adam. He “so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” All the love that men and angels are capable of exercising, sinks into insignificance in comparison with the love of God toward the human family. RH January 4, 1881, par. 4

The Lord requires us to give liberally for the support of his cause. Should we compare our offerings with those which were constantly required of the Jews, we would find that we fall far below them in beneficence. Their contributions amounted to fully one-fourth of their entire income. At the lowest estimate, the amount expended upon the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple at Jerusalem exceeded the cost of all the church edifices in the United States. RH January 4, 1881, par. 5

Many regard these demands upon the Jews as far above the possible standard of duty required of us. But are there grounds for this conclusion? Are our advantages inferior to those of the Jews? or has God been less beneficent with us than with them? We hear ministers in the various churches extolling the blessings of the gospel, and representing the glory of this age as exceeding in every respect that of the Jewish age. They call the Mosaic dispensation one of darkness, and exalt the present as an age of far greater light and privilege. If this is so, will not God hold us accountable for these increased blessings? Just in proportion to the gifts bestowed, will be his claims upon us. Are the calls of beneficence less numerous now than they were in the Jewish age? It should be the reverse. RH January 4, 1881, par. 6

The systematic demands upon the Jews were healthful in their influence, and were preventive of pauperism. A poor man was rarely seen among that people. While they rendered willing obedience to God's requirements, his blessing rested upon them, and prosperity attended all their labors. Anciently, the Hebrews were separated from every other nation on the face of the earth. Their field of labor was limited to their own people. Now the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile is broken down, and the way is open for foreign missionary enterprises. The field of our labor is the world. Every nation, tongue, and people can be reached by the saving truth for this time. God has freely intrusted to us, as his stewards, the bread of life, and the means to carry that bread to those who are ready to perish. In view of this, should not our standard of liberality be higher than that of God's ancient people? RH January 4, 1881, par. 7

In proportion to their income, the rich are doing less than the poor. Many who give something are not blessed of God, because they do not give more. The Lord would have his people so constrained by the love of Christ that they will gladly meet the wants of his cause. We should ever acknowledge our allegiance to him, and regard it as our reasonable service to devote our energies, our property, and our lives to his work. RH January 4, 1881, par. 8

When, on account of their faith, the Christians at Jerusalem were reduced to poverty, other churches showed their liberality by supplying the wants of those brethren. Though the Macedonian churches were in great affliction, yet the apostle Paul declares that “the abundance of their joy, and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” RH January 4, 1881, par. 9

We do not urge our brethren to contribute, but as they have hitherto shown a willingness to assist in the work of God, we invite them now to come forward with their offerings, and lessen the debt upon our Tabernacle. We hope to be as much surprised on New Year's eve as was David when he saw the offerings for the temple of the Lord: RH January 4, 1881, par. 10

“And they with whom precious stones were found gave them to the treasure of the house of the Lord, by the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite. Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord; and David the king also rejoiced with great joy. Wherefore David blessed the Lord before all the congregation; and David said, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.” RH January 4, 1881, par. 11