Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7

305/345

Ms 11, 1892

Stewards of God’s Gifts

NP

June 1892

Portions of this manuscript are published in OHC 190; 1MCP 245-246; 2MR 98.

“Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” [Matthew 6:19-21.] 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 1

With all the facilities that God has given, all the institutions that are established among us, how sad it seems that when the call is made for men and women—not ministers, but those who have a knowledge of the truth, who in principle should be firm as a rock—to change their location and put their heart into the work to represent the truth to others, there are so few to respond. What is the matter? Souls are perishing for the truth. Why do not those who have the Bread of Life, the heavenly manna, give it to those who need it? Souls, perishing out of Christ, would be saved if God’s professed people who have the light would let it shine, bring it out from under that bed, from under that bushel that encloses it, and put it on a candlestick that it may shine to all that are within the house. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 2

Think of what God has done. At infinite cost He has opened through the smitten heart of His beloved Son a channel by which His mercy may flow to the world. God delighteth in mercy; cannot His followers express this? God is love; tell it, act it. Let self no longer be idolized. Much, yes, everything, has God done for us; then why not in your turn do something for Jesus? “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” [Malachi 4:2.] 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 3

There has been a revelation of Christ’s glory to the church of God. “The path of the just is as a shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” [Proverbs 4:18.] Stormy times are before us; like a thief, Satan is stealing along in his plans and devices. Suddenly will these things come upon all who are asleep. What shall we do that we may be prepared for the satanic work that is to open before us, when the lying wonders of Satan will come with startling surprise upon all who are not ready, and who are not kept by the grace of Christ. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 4

I did not expect to write upon this matter, but somehow my pen has traced these lines. I find that our people in foreign lands are, many of them, afraid to send their youth to America to receive an education, for the manner of dress and the want of holiness of mind that exist, especially in Battle Creek, make our brethren tremble for the influence that would be brought into these countries which would strengthen pride and weaken spirituality. Not having sufficient knowledge of what saith the Scriptures, many are not balanced by principles. I know they have reason to be afraid. There ought to be many going forth from Battle Creek as devoted, spiritual missionaries; but many will not feel the burden of souls until they are thoroughly converted and copy the Pattern, Jesus Christ. They have a theoretical knowledge of the truth, but their limited practical knowledge has made them weak and inefficient, yielding to desire for display; and therefore they feel not the urgency of the case of those who know not the truth. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 5

Having refused to lift the cross, to stand forth as the chosen, peculiar people of God, they have missed a rich experience which would have brought them into sympathy with Christ and with one another, to help each other in the church to reach a higher standard. What will be the result of this course pursued by those who profess to believe the truth? They refuse to wear the yoke of Christ, and they will not learn the lessons in the school of Christ which would make them wise unto salvation. God has entrusted us with talents, some five, some two, some one, but not a farthing to be squandered upon selfish indulgence. For it is Master-lent capital; nothing is to be hoarded, for there is a place for every talent to be employed. The principal is the Lord’s. The interest is His. Every dollar that is put out to the exchangers is stamped with the image and superscription of God. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 6

In the expenditure of money let the Christian look up to God and ask Him to give wisdom. What if the professed followers of Jesus should look upon their expensive garments and should see the words written upon them by the finger of God, “Clothe the naked.” What if they should see inscribed upon their expensive decorations in their homes, the pictures and furniture, “Bring the poor that are cast out to thy house.” In the dining room, where the table is laden with abundant food, the finger of God has traced, “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?” [Isaiah 58:7.] 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 7

Let all, old and young, consider that it is not a light matter to be the Lord’s steward and to be charged in the books of heaven with using in a selfish manner. The needy, the oppressed, are left in want, while the Lord’s money is selfishly squandered in extravagance and luxury. O, that all will remember that God is no respecter of persons. It is a great thing to be a steward, faithful and true, before a just, impartial God who will not excuse in any of His stewards any unfairness or any robbery toward Him. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 8

We see in this far off country very much to be done. Men, consecrated to the service of Christ, are wanted now; there are openings on every side. And as we count the cost of entering places where the standard of truth is to be elevated, we see that the work cannot go forward without means. O, that all to whom the Lord’s money is entrusted would lay hold of this important part of the work and be the Lord’s in this world where there is want, nakedness, wretchedness, and ignorance! To whom much has been given, of him much will be required. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 9

The law of God holds every man accountable for the use he makes of every dollar that comes into his hands, for the Lord has made men His agents to relieve the world’s distress. If man hoards or selfishly uses his Lord’s entrusted goods, it will be to the ruin of his own soul, for he honors, exalts, and glorifies himself. Yet society and his associates are just so foolish as to exalt the man as much better than the poor because he has large property, when this accumulated wealth was the Lord’s, to be used to relieve the temporal and spiritual wants of His creatures. It is the custom of the world to exalt and worship men who are unfaithful stewards and have embezzled their Lord’s goods, making oppression current, poverty and ignorance more deep and bitter, causing men to blaspheme God because of the wretchedness. If men had kept the commandments of God, loving God supremely and their neighbor as themselves, this terrible wretchedness would not be. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 10

God is a spectator in every business transaction. The connection of man with his God, in this sacred arrangement made with man in entrusting him with the Lord’s goods, should, in view of the judgment, make man honest with his God. Every man is to be judged according to the deeds done in the body. There are those in our world who, although the professedly chosen of God, can always pass the needy by on the other side. Jesus sees this; Jesus marks this; He will not pass it by. Jesus declared that He came to preach the gospel to the poor. [Luke 4:18.] He has bestowed His goods [so] that love and beneficence shall live, ever growing stronger in the hearts of His people. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 11

In the work of saving souls, there is need of enduring patience and love and sincere faith. The heavenly agencies are at work in drawing them, and the human agent, co-operating with the divine, must bring to his work a warm heart, glowing with the spirit of Christ, having a yearning of soul for those who are ready to perish. Why are there not more successful workers in drawing souls to Christ? Because there are but few who are laborers together with God. Many become weary in well doing. They have not the grace to submit to discipline and spiritual training. They do not choose to unite with Christ and toil with painstaking to attain the desired object. It is far easier to have a name to live while they are spiritually dead. If they maintain the semblance of piety, they think it is sufficient. At times they have good purposes, the spark of grace in their souls is not extinct, and they are pleased with themselves although they neither burn nor shine. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 12

Would it not be well for these souls to enquire, Where are the sheaves that I am required to bring to Jesus in the turning of souls from sin unto righteousness? Will it not be profitable for these souls to do some self-examination to see whether they be in the faith? Do they copy the Pattern? Or do they by word and action lead others away from Jesus, to be as self-deceived as themselves? How long before the truth shall impress the heart and transform the character? 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 13

With great blessings in the unfolding of truth, all who are favored will have to render an account to God. Having light from heaven, they did not appreciate it all sufficiently to let it shine upon others; depositories of the sacred gifts of heaven, they are doing nothing to show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into His marvellous light. What will they say in the last great day when every case is decided for life or death, [when] all [are] rewarded as their works have been? Let every one who claims to be a follower of Jesus ask himself, Am I walking in His footsteps? Am I co-operating with Christ, or am I walking and working away from Christ? 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 14

The world’s Redeemer gave His life as a continual sacrifice in order to save man. He withdrew from the kingdom of heaven and consecrated Himself to the work of ministering to the sorrows of suffering humanity. The kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, were brought in the most attractive light before Christ and offered as a bribe if He would only bow to acknowledge Satan as prince of the world. But the Lord Jesus saw it all as if He saw it not. Only one object was before Him—the saving of the souls whom Satan was binding under his power; everything else sank into insignificance. The voice of penitence, imploring forgiveness, was music for His ears. He saw a world bound in captivity to Satan’s power. All the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, inviting His acceptance, would not have caused Him to turn aside a step from the path which He knew led directly to the cross. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 15

Jesus could have flashed bright beams of light on the darkest mysteries of science, but He would not spare a moment from teaching the knowledge of the science of salvation. His time, His knowledge, His faculties, His life itself, were appreciated only as the means of working out the salvation of the souls of men. O what love, what matchless love! Contrast our tame, lifeless, half-paralyzed efforts with the work of the Lord Jesus. Listen to His words, to His prayer to the Father, “I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” [John 17:26.] What language is this! How deep, how broad, how full! 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 16

The Lord Jesus desires to shed abroad His love through every member of the body, His church, that the vitality of that love may circulate through every part of the body and dwell in us as it dwells in Him. The Lord then can love fallen man as He does His own Son; and He declares that He will be satisfied with nothing less than this in our behalf. How many answer the expectation of Christ Jesus? How many will make decided efforts to copy the Pattern? Who are called the great ones of earth? Those who have riches and worldly honors. It is regarded as no sin to misapply the goods entrusted to men in order to relieve the distressed, the hungry, the naked. But those who greedily grasp all they can possibly lay their hands on, and leave the poor to struggle in the battle of life in want and hunger, will not be proud to meet the record in that day when every man will be judged according to his works. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 17

The stewards of God have nothing to fear if they do their duty in appropriating the means entrusted to them. Christ has made ample provision for the ignorant, the poor, the down trodden. They are the objects of His mercy and eternal love. The apportioning of rewards at the last day turns upon the question of our practical benevolence: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” [Matthew 25:40.] Christ puts Himself in the poor man’s place, identifying His interest with that of the poor. “For I was an hungered and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” [Verses 42, 43.] He calls upon each disciple to dispense with grateful liberality the gifts entrusted to him, as if he were bestowing the same upon his Redeemer. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 18

Our Saviour was ever touched with human woe. Human nature left to itself would not have strong sympathy with human needs; but when the love of Christ shall warm the heart, then true beneficence is practiced in the name of Christ, then there is action upon new and higher ground. Souls as well as bodies are to be saved and comforted, and the love and the means bestowed are to be proportioned to the worthiness of Christ and our obligations to Him. Here are the highest inducements, a motive power strong and efficient, to overcome the master passion of selfishness. The love of God and the love of the world are striving for the mastery; which shall bear away the victory? 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 19

Every soul who believes in Jesus will copy the Pattern; he will be self-denying. He will not seek to please self but to see and understand the wants of the cause of God, what he can do as his personal duty to exemplify the life of Christ. “No man liveth to himself,” and no man dieth to himself; his influence for good or for evil is perpetuated in those who follow His example. [Romans 14:7.] 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 20

There are peculiar snares open before the feet of those who have temporal riches. Circumstanced as they are by the providence of God, unless they are constantly seeking for heavenly wisdom, their feet will stumble into Satan’s nets; even those who believe the truth are in danger of showing a preference for moneyed men and acting toward them as if fearful to speak to them of their dangers lest they shall be offended and refuse to support the cause of God with the capital entrusted to them. This has been done in many instances, for those who have the handling of property are exposed to high-mindedness, to self-trust, to self-confidence and self-exaltation. Whenever this course is questioned, the plain truth is closely brought home to the soul, they are troubled to feel that a personal injury has been done to them, that those who are in responsible positions did not show them due respect. If they have made a loan to the cause of God, at once the temptation comes to withdraw the means entrusted; this has brought financial pressure at a time when it has caused great anxiety and burdens to those who had been placed in positions of trust. When those rich men to whom God has entrusted talents for the very purpose of building up His cause, extended the light of truth, act in this manner, they plainly say, “This is not the Lord’s money but my own, to do with just as I please.” 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 21

Are these men of property laborers together with God? No, no. They are embezzling their Lord’s money, misapplying it to serve their own tempted souls and please the prince of darkness. Thus loans become heavy burdens, and our brethren want as few of them as possible. Let the stewards of the means entrusted to them of God see the peculiar snares laid for the borrower and the lender, and let them close the door to temptation by giving freely as the Lord has prospered them. Let our brethren who bear responsibilities in the work draw upon these rich men for the Lord’s own money, with assurance that the Holy Spirit will make them willing to invest the sum that they can well afford to apply for the advancement of the kingdom of God in the world. Let professed Christians consider Christ Jesus at every step, for you are His representatives, and you are to follow His example. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 22

Jesus was rich; He made the world; He was the possessor of all things; but in the days of His humiliation, when He assumed humanity, He chose not the position of wealth, of worldly honor. He came into our world as a poor man. “Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich,” not in riches that pass away, but in eternal treasures. [2 Corinthians 8:9.] When you contemplate your great Exemplar, what is your duty? In view of the perishing souls in every country and in every clime, you are to sell that you have, and to give alms, to use your bank stock as the Lord’s entrusted capital, to the glory of God. To acquire wealth for the satisfaction of knowing that you have an abundance is not the example placed before you by Jesus Christ. It is a sin and your soul is in peril as long as you maintain this position. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 23

Thousands of souls have missed their way to heaven because they come into possession of property, and Satan’s suggestions were accepted, and the direct injunctions given by the Master, Jesus Christ, has but little weight. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 24

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” [Matthew 6:19-23.] 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 25

“Sell that ye have and give alms; provide to yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girded about and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.” [Luke 12:33-36.] 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 26

Here the danger is plainly stated; the duty of the children of light is laid open before them. It is not safe to follow the customs or practices of the world in the use of the means the Lord has placed in your hands. Unless we individually feel the sacred responsibility of our stewardship, and in the investment of the Lord’s goods strictly follow the example of Jesus, there is constant danger that Satan’s plans will divert the Lord’s money into forbidden channels, and the treasury of God be robbed of the means which should be employed in blessing humanity, in helping the poor, the needy, the orphan, the fatherless, and establishing missions in all parts of our world. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 27

Character is influence. As mind rules matter, character rules minds, and draws other minds into sympathy, and there is a new impulse, a moral taste created. Thus a power is exerted for good in all missionary work. As nothing turned Jesus aside from the great plan for the redemption of man through self-denial and self-sacrifice, every pardoned sinner is under the weighty responsibility of placing himself in harmony with Christ and the heavenly intelligences, strong in unity, employing every element of influence and securing every holy agency in heaven and in the earth to oppose error with truth. We cannot do otherwise if we are partakers of the divine nature. We see the wonderful exultation of the love of Christ in the spectacle of a God yielding Himself as a sacrifice that He may save man. When we have an experimental knowledge of God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent, the grace of Christ will be so attractive and powerful to us that we shall consider nothing a sacrifice that we can do to spread the glad tidings by sea and land. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 28

Property is a talent which as a steward you are responsible to use with wisdom, expending as little upon yourself as is needful, that the Lord may receive His own. Even the one talent, wisely employed, will win other talents. But if the possessors of means become selfish and bury their talents of money in the world, if covetousness, or prodigal expenditure in selfish indulgence, leads them to refuse to invest in the cause of Him who sacrificed all to enrich humanity with the title to an immortal inheritance, what will they say in the judgment, when an account of their stewardship is demanded? 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 29

God is opening more and more channels through which our gifts in tithes and offerings are to flow. Become acquainted with the missions already established at home and in foreign countries. See the embarrassed condition of the missions in far off lands. Shall the missionaries become discouraged for the want of means to advance the work, to lift the standard of truth in foreign lands? The islands of the sea are waiting for thee, O God. Schools are to be established in these islands to prepare students to go to higher schools within reach, there to be educated and trained to go back to their island homes to diffuse to others the light they have received. Will any who claim to believe the truth indulge a spirit of avarice now? Will any show a spirit of selfishness to grasp the highest wages possible for their service because they think they can get it, when this is necessitating restrictions in other directions where the means is needed? Churches should be ready to assist sister churches to provide a place of worship free from debt, that character may be given to the work. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 30

This work of missions, the work of saving souls, was established in a sacrifice established by Jesus Christ Himself, and every follower of Christ in truth will be imbued with His spirit and work with His mind for the same end for which He came into our world. Every extravagant, selfish indulgence will appear very different to the actor when the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened; every transaction in business, every matter of deal, every dollar that has been drawn away from the treasury of God to satisfy ambitious projects, or merely for pleasure, will then appear in altogether a different light from that in which the suggestions of Satan presented it. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 31

Let no man lock away the Lord’s money in parchments and wills to be used after he is dead. Use your means yourself as stewards of God while you live. There are churches burdened with debt; let your means help to relieve the situation. There are widows and orphans that can be greatly relieved. Jesus has given you an example; follow His footsteps. When the minds and hearts of God’s people are filled with the love of Jesus, there will be a clearer line of demarkation between them and the world. Today there is great reason for deep humiliation because of the sinful conformity between the church and the world. 7LtMs, Ms 11, 1892, par. 32