Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3


Chapter 26—Inordinate Love of Gain

Brother S,

I was shown, December 10, 1871, that there are serious defects in your character, which, unless seen and overcome, will prove your ruin; and you will not only be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and found wanting yourself, but your influence will determine the destiny of others. You are either gathering with Christ or scattering abroad. 3T 243.2

I was shown that you have a deeply rooted love for the world. The love of money is the root of all evil. You flatter yourself that you are about right, when you are not. God seeth not as man seeth. He looks at the heart. His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. Your great care and anxiety is to acquire means. This absorbing passion has been increasing upon you until it is overbalancing your love of the truth. Your soul is being corrupted through the love of money. Your love for the truth and for its advancement is very weak. Your earthly treasures claim and hold your affections. 3T 243.3

You have a knowledge of the truth; you are not ignorant of the claims of Scripture; you know your Master's will, for He has plainly revealed it. But your heart is not inclined to follow the light which shines upon your pathway. You have a large measure of self-conceit. Your love for self is greater than your love for the cause of present truth. Your self-confidence and your self-sufficiency will certainly prove your ruin unless you can see your weakness and errors, and reform. You are arbitrary. You have a set will of your own to maintain, and although the opinions of others may be correct, and your judgment wrong, yet you are not the man to yield. You hold firmly to your advanced opinion, irrespective of the judgment of others. I wish you could see the danger of continuing the course you have been pursuing. If your eyes could be enlightened by the Spirit of God, you would see these things clearly. 3T 244.1

Your wife loves the truth, and she is a practical woman, a woman of principle. But you do not appreciate her value. She has worked hard for the common good of the family, but you have not given her your confidence. You have not counseled with her as was your duty. You keep your matters very much to yourself; you do not love to open your heart to your wife and let her know your exercises of mind and your real faith and feelings. You are secretive. Your wife does not hold the honored place in your family that she deserves and that she is capable of filling. 3T 244.2

You feel that your wife should not interfere with your plans and arrangements, and you too frequently set your will and plans of operation in opposition to hers. You act as though her identity should be merged in yours. You are not satisfied to have her act as though she had an individuality, an identify of her own. God holds her accountable for her individuality. You cannot save her, and she cannot save you. She has a conscience of her own by which she must be guided. You are too willing to be conscience for her, and sometimes for your children. God has higher claims upon your wife than you can have. She must form a character for herself, and she is accountable to God for the character she develops. 3T 244.3

You have a character to form, and you are accountable to God for the character that you develop. You have a controlling influence and possess a dictatorial spirit, which is not in accordance with the will of God. You must cease to be so exacting. You have prided yourself upon your fine taste and organization. You have nice ideas, but you have not carried this exact and fine perception into your character and into your deportment. You have failed to perfect a symmetrical character. You have good ideas of order and arrangement, but all these nice qualities of the mind have become blunted by being perverted. You have not complied with the conditions laid down in the word of God for becoming a son of God. All the promises of God are upon conditions. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” This experience you have yet to obtain. You love to get into the company of unbelievers and hear them talk, and talk yourself. Jesus cannot be glorified with your conversation, and if you had had the spirit of Jesus you could not have been so much in the society of those who had no love for the truth of God. 3T 245.1

You have felt that there were hindrances to your children's becoming Christians, and have felt that others were to blame. But do not deceive yourself in regard to this matter. Your influence as a father has been sufficient, if there were nothing else to hinder, to stand in their way. Your example and your conversation have been of such a character that your children could not believe that your course was consistent with your profession. Your conversation with unbelievers has been of such a low order, and so light, so filled with jesting and joking, that your influence could never elevate them. Your deal with others has not always been strictly honest. You have not loved God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. If in your power, you would advantage yourself at your neighbor's disadvantage. Every dollar which comes to you in this manner will carry with it a curse which you will feel sooner or later. God marks every act of injustice, be it done to believer or unbeliever, and He will not pass it over. Your acquisitive disposition is a snare to you. Your deal with your fellow men cannot endure the test of the judgment. 3T 246.1

Your Christian character is spotted with avarice. These spots will have to be removed, or you will lose eternal life. We each have a work to do for the Master; we each have talents to improve. The humblest and poorest of the disciples of Jesus can be a blessing to others. They may not realize that they are doing any special good, but, by their unconscious influence, they may start waves of blessing which will widen and deepen, and the happy result of their words and consistent deportment they may never know until the final distribution of rewards. They do not feel or know that they are doing anything great. They are not required to weary themselves with anxieties about success. They have only to go forward, not with many words and vainglorying and boasting, but quietly, faithfully doing the work which God's providence has assigned them, and they will not lose their reward. Thus will it be in your case. The memorial of your life will be written in the book of records; and, if you are finally an overcomer, there will be souls saved through your efforts, by your self-denial, your good words and consistent Christian life. And when the rewards are finally distributed to all as their works have been, redeemed souls will call you blessed, and the Master will say: “Well done, good and faithful servant,” “enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” 3T 246.2

The world is indeed full of hurry, and of pride, selfishness, avarice, and violence; and it may seem to us that it is a waste of time and breath to be ever in season and out of season, and on all occasions to hold ourselves in readiness to speak words that are gentle, pure, elevating, chaste, and holy, in the face of the whirlwind of confusion, bustle, and strife. And yet words fitly spoken, coming from sanctified hearts and lips, and sustained by a godly, consistent Christian deportment, will be as apples of gold in pictures of silver. You have been as one of the vain talkers and have appeared as one of the world. You have sometimes been careless in your words and reckless in your conversation and have lowered yourself as a Christian in the opinion of unbelievers. You have sometimes spoken of the truth; but your words have not borne that serious, anxious interest that would affect the heart. They have been accompanied with light, trivial remarks that would lead those with whom you converse to decide that your faith is not genuine and that you do not believe the truths you profess. Words in favor of the truth, spoken in the calm self-possession of a right purpose and from a pure heart, will do much to disarm opposition and win souls. But a harsh, selfish, denunciatory spirit will only drive further from the truth and awaken a spirit of opposition. 3T 247.1

You are not to wait for great occasions, or to expect extraordinary abilities, before you work in earnest for God. You need not have a thought of what the world will think of you. If your intercourse with them and your godly conversation are a living testimony to them of the purity and sincerity of your faith, and they are convinced that you desire to benefit them, your words will not be wholly lost upon them, but will be productive of good. 3T 247.2

A servant of Christ, in any department of the Christian service, will by precept and by example have a saving influence upon others. The good seed sown may lie some time in a cold, worldly, selfish heart without evidencing that it has taken root; but frequently the Spirit of God operates upon that heart and waters it with the dew of heaven, and the long-hidden seed springs up and finally bears fruit to the glory of God. We know not in our lifework which shall prosper, this or that. These are not questions for us poor mortals to settle. We are to do our work, leaving the result with God. If you were in darkness and ignorance, you would not be as guilty. But you have had great light, you have heard much truth; but you are not a doer of the word. 3T 248.1

Christ's life is the pattern for us all. His example of self-denial, self-sacrifice, and disinterested benevolence is for us to follow. His entire life is an infinite demonstration of His great love and condescension to save sinful man. “Love one another, as I have loved you,” says Christ. How will our life of self-denial, sacrifice, and benevolence bear comparison with the life of Christ? “Ye are,” says Christ, addressing His disciples, “the light of the world.” “Ye are the salt of the earth.” If this is our privilege and also our duty, and we are bodies of darkness and of unbelief, what a fearful responsibility we assume! We may be channels of light or of darkness. If we have neglected to improve the light that God had given us, and have failed to advance in knowledge and true holiness as the light has directed the way, we are guilty and in darkness according to the light and truth we have neglected to improve. In these days of iniquity and peril the characters and works of professed Christians will not generally bear the test nor endure the exposure when examined by the light that now shines upon them. There is no concord between Christ and Belial; there is no communion between light and darkness. How, then, can the spirit of Christ and the spirit of the world be in harmony? The Lord our God is a jealous God. He requires the sincere affection and unreserved confidence of those who profess to love Him. Says the psalmist: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” 3T 248.2

You have stood directly in the way of the salvation of your children. You lay their indifference to religious things to other causes than the true. Your example is a stumbling block to them. They know by your fruits, by your words and works, that you do not believe in the near coming of Christ. Some of them do not hesitate to make sport of the idea of the near coming of Christ and of the shortness of time. They take great satisfaction when you drive a sharp bargain. They think that father is keen in a trade and that nobody can get the better of him, and they are following in your footsteps. Faith without works is dead, being alone. Money has given you power, and you have used that power to take advantage of the necessities of others. Your speculations in business life have not been honest, you have not been just with your fellow men. By your trades you have sacrificed your reputation as a Christian and as an honest man. By fair trading, means did not come into your possession fast enough to satisfy your thirst for gain, and you have frequently made the poor man's burdens heavier by taking advantage of his necessity to increase your property. Look carefully, Brother S. You are making fearful losses for earthly gain. You are losing manly integrity and heavenly virtue, in the hour of temptation. Is this gain or loss? Are you richer or poorer for all such increase? To you it is a fearful loss, for it takes just so much from the treasure you might have been accumulating in heaven. 3T 249.1

Every opportunity to help a brother in need, or to aid the cause of God in the spread of the truth, is a pearl that you can send beforehand and deposit in the bank of heaven for safekeeping. God is testing and proving you. He has been giving His blessings to you with a lavish hand and is now watching to see what use you are making of them, to see if you will help those who need help and if you will feel the worth of souls and do what you can with the means that He has entrusted to you. Every such opportunity improved adds to your heavenly treasure. But love of self has led you to prefer earthly possessions even at the sacrifice of the heavenly. You choose the treasures that moth and rust corrupt rather than those which are as enduring as eternity. It is your privilege to exercise tender compassion and to bless others; but your eyes are so blinded by the god of this world that you cannot discern this precious gem—the blessing to be received by doing good, by being rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up for yourself a good foundation against the time to come, that you may lay hold on eternal life. You are imperiling your soul by neglecting to avail yourself of precious opportunities to secure the heavenly treasure. Are you really richer for your penuriousness, for your close managing? God is proving you, and it is for you to determine whether you will come out gold or valueless dross. Should your probation close tonight, how would your life record stand? Not a dollar of what you have gained could you take with you. The curse of every unjust act would attend you. Your sharpness in trade, when viewed in the mirror that God will present before you, will not lead to self-congratulation. Covetousness is idolatry. 3T 249.2

Your only hope is to humble your heart before God. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” I entreat of you: Do not close your eyes to your danger. Do not be blind to the higher interests of the soul, to the blessed and glorious prospects for the better life. The anxious, burdened seekers for worldly gain are blind and insane. They turn from the immortal, imperishable treasure, to this world. The glitter and tinsel of this world captivate their senses, and eternal things are not valued. They labor for that which satisfieth not and spend their money for that which is not bread, when Jesus offers them peace and hope and infinite blessings, for a life of obedience. All the treasures of the earth would not be rich enough to buy these precious gifts. Yet many are insane and turn from the heavenly inducement. Christ will keep the names of all who count no sacrifice too costly to be offered to Him upon the altar of faith and love. He sacrificed all for fallen humanity. The names of the obedient, self-sacrificing, and faithful will be engraved upon the palms of His hands; they will not be spewed from His mouth, but be taken in His lips, and He will specially plead in their behalf before the Father. When the selfish and proud are forgotten, they will be remembered; their names will be immortalized. In order to be happy ourselves, we must live to make others happy. It is well for us to yield our possessions, our talents, and our affections in grateful devotion to Christ, and in that way find happiness here and immortal glory hereafter. 3T 250.1

The long night of watching, of toil and hardship, is nearly past. Christ is soon to come. Get ready. The angels of God are seeking to attract you from yourself and from earthly things. Let them not labor in vain. Faith, living faith, is what you need; faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Remember Calvary and the awful, the infinite sacrifice there made for man. Jesus now invites you to come to Him just as you are and make Him your strength and everlasting Friend. 3T 251.1