Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Ms 23, 1887

Equality in the Distribution of Means

Battle Creek, Michigan


See variant Ms 23a, 1887. Previously unpublished.

I have received letters from different states, making inquiry in regard to the wisdom of investing means in building sanitariums in which the sick may be treated and where they may be under a religious influence. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 1

I would say that if sanitariums can be built in various places, this is a good thing to do, if those placed in charge of these institutions are men who will use wisdom in their work. They must not present to the patients subjects that will cause disturbance of mind. They must pray with the sick, leading the afflicted ones to look to Christ as a physician of the soul as well as of the body. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 2

It has been stated that there are moneyed men who are willing to invest their means in sanitariums, but who would not be willing to contribute toward home or foreign missions. I am made sorry when I hear such statements as this. It seems to me that those who make them are not seeking counsel from God or from their brethren. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 3

Money is lent man on trust, and as a faithful steward he is to use his means, not as his fancy may dictate, but where the necessities of God’s work are the greatest. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 4

We have just returned from Europe, where we have been laboring for two years. We saw there on every side fields that needed to be entered and worked. The people were softened and subdued by the Spirit of God and were longing for spiritual food. From all parts of the world calls were constantly coming from those who long for a better knowledge of the Scriptures. The people called for books and papers and for the living preacher. As far as we were able, we answered their calls by sending publications. We knew that nothing more could be done unless the hearts of our church members were awakened to see the necessities of the work and our great need of means for sending to those interested ones, not books only, but the living preacher. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 5

Why should the stewards of means have so little interest in sending laborers to fields that are white for harvest? The steward is not the owner of the means he has. Why should he not be willing to support those who can go forth in fulfilment of Christ’s commission to His disciples, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”? Mark 16:15. Christ died for the world, and there is much work to be done in His vineyard, not merely in one place, but in many places. The means for the advancement of this work are to be used with equality and impartiality. Men are not to expend a large amount in one part of the vineyard and refuse to see the necessities of other parts. This is selfishness. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 6

Yet some have done this. They invest much in one portion of the field, while they ignore the entreaties and appeals for help that come from other portions. Such men may give freely and may gain a reputation for liberality. But their work is done to receive the praise of men. Their actions reveal a selfish ambition, a desire to do as they please, irrespective of the great necessities of the work. In lavishly providing one place with facilities, they deprive other places of the facilities needed in order to honor the Lord. God holds them guilty of misappropriation of His goods. He holds them accountable for not helping to erect memorials for Him in the fields that should be added to His kingdom. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 7

Wherever schools, sanitariums, or publishing houses are established, wise managers must be provided for these institutions, managers who will use their talents in doing the very best work in various lines. They should not be merely men of business ability, but men who are worked upon and molded by the Holy Spirit. This is a matter that requires thorough investigation. If those placed in charge of the interests of God’s cause are walking humbly with God, they will enter upon their work with unselfish ideas and pure motives. They will counsel with God and with men who give evidence that they are men of prayer and self-control. In their work they should never lose sight of those parts of the field which are in need of the same facilities which have been provided for them. They must remember that every section of the field is linked with every other section as a different part of the great whole. In all their planning, they should remember that unity and equality should be preserved. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 8

God requires His stewards, before entering upon any enterprise, to count the cost, that they may be sure not to absorb so much means that other parts of the field will be deprived of the facilities necessary for the work. The Lord will not approve of selfishness in any part of His service. He is a God of impartiality and strict equity, and selfishness misrepresents His character. God’s workers are to keep their fellow laborers in view. Let us never forget to consider our plans carefully, so as not to restrict the work of our neighbors. We are never to gather to ourselves all the money and facilities possible, so that those working beside us shall have no opportunity to use their talents and ability for the Master. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 9

It is God’s design that home institutions shall be a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. But have those engaged in the work looked to God for light and wisdom? Have they remembered that Christ died for the world? Have they studied how to invest means so that plants which will produce abiding fruit may be set out in different parts of the world? God has placed money in the hands of His stewards to be used unselfishly in fulfilment of the command to love God supremely and our neighbor as ourself. The work cannot be advanced unless men restrict their selfish plans, which would help only themselves and the place where they are working. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 10

Some who claim to be doing a very benevolent work are using in their own territory donations which the Lord desires to have used in other fields, to keep a much larger number at work in unfurling the banner of truth and feeding the hungry souls with the bread of life. God desires that an intelligent knowledge of His Word, that men and women now perishing in error may receive life through eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 11

No man will be sustained by God in gathering up all the means he can to create large interests in one place, while the work in other parts of the world is languishing for want of resources to impart the truth. He desires to see souls converted to the truth and organized into churches. The work is to be made a vital power all over the world. God wants the churches to be faithful in working to build up His cause, in doing their part to carry the truth to all the countries of the world. Men are not to invest money as they please. They are to look to the Lord and to the fields that are white for the harvest. They are to use their entrusted means in accordance with the principles of the law of God. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 12

Those who are laboring in new fields should be encouraged to plant the standard in new places, to annex new territory for God. God’s self-sacrificing workers should be provided with sufficient facilities to make their work a success. Missionaries must have facilities, else it is their duty to leave the field; for they consume their God-given strength in doing very little. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 13

The Lord will plan for us if we will let Him. The money in our hands is His, not ours, and He expects every one of us to ask wisdom from Him in regard to the use we make of His means. We ask the men in responsible positions in America how much earnest zeal has been manifested in behalf of the Lord’s work in foreign fields. How much missionary activity has been shown in sending workers and money to these fields, to do the work that must be done in fulfilment of our Lord’s commission? How many years, how many hours, have you given to the object of your professed solicitude? How many times have you wrestled with God in prayer that the people in other lands may have an opportunity of hearing the last message of mercy? How many acts of practical self-denial and self-sacrifice have you done in order to fulfil the gospel commission? The Lord is opening new, unworked fields and is indicating that these fields should be entered. What are you doing? Have you co-operated with God? Has your example kindled in others a zeal to supply the necessities of the Lord’s vineyard, that it may be worked with all the success which He designs it to have? 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 14

In the great day of judgment, how will the lovers of worldly treasure answer to God for their feeble and sleepy effort to send the truth to regions beyond? What excuse can they give for their use of God’s means in self-gratification? The money expended in bicycles and other needless things must be accounted for. As God’s people you should represent Jesus; but Christ is ashamed of the self-indulgent ones. My heart is pained, I can scarcely restrain my feelings, when I think how easily our people are led away from practical Christian principles to self-pleasing. The Lord Jesus says, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24), and we are to live by every word that proceedeth out of His mouth. How many believe His word? 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 15

The Lord abhors your selfish practices, and yet His hand is stretched out still. For your soul’s sake, I urge you to hear my plea for the missionaries in foreign countries where hands are tied by your self-pleasing. 5LtMs, Ms 23, 1887, par. 16