Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 8 (1893)


Ms 98, 1893

Our Duty in Ministering to the Poor



Formerly Undated Ms 74. This manuscript is published in entirety in RH 06/20/1893, 06/27/1893.

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16.] The price which heave has paid for man reveals the value of every soul. There is not one passed by in the provision of God’s love. “Whosoever believeth in Him” shall not perish, but have everlasting life. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 1

And to all who have received Christ, the Holy Spirit says, “Ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] Every provision has been made that His possession, purchased at such infinite cost to heaven, should grow into a holy temple unto the Lord, complete in Him. “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” [Ephesians 4:11-13.] Every facility has been provided that man may have a perfect character, that he should come off more than conqueror through the merits of Christ. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 2

Satan, the rebel and apostate, works by every possible device to defeat the purpose of God. Because men have sinned, he claims that they have come under his dominion, and that the heavenly agencies, angels that excel in strength, should not take his subjects from under his control. Should men receive divine power, he knows that he cannot prevail against them, and work his will in cruelty upon body and mind; therefore he accuses them before God, and claims that the power of God shall not be imparted to them. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 3

Zechariah the prophet beholds “Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.” Joshua represents the people of God standing in the presence of their Redeemer. Satan, with his masterly accusing power, is resisting the plan of Christ for the redemption of His people. The Majesty of heaven, the only begotten of the Father, responds to Satan’s claims. “The Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee; is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.” [Zechariah 3:1-3.] Satan was charging God’s people with impurity. He was presenting every defect in their character. Through his deceiving power he had tempted them to sin, and now he represents them as full of transgression and defilement. He declares that they have come under his control, that they are the subjects of his pleasure, and he claims the right to work his will upon them without interference from God in their behalf. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 4

“And he (the Lord Jesus Christ) answered and spake unto those that stood before him (His holy attending angels), saying, Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to Joshua he said, “Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.” [Verse 4.] Jesus has borne the sins of the whole world, he suffered as man’s substitute and surety. He has himself bridged the guilt that sin has made, that separated man from God, and earth from heaven. With his own divine hand he plucked the brand from the burning, that man might not die the second death. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 5

“And I (the Lord) said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments,”—the pure garments woven in the loom of heaven, the righteousness of Christ. “And the angel of the Lord stood by,” to behold the perfect justification of his saints, the victory over Satan and sin. “And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house (as kings and priests unto God), and shall also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by,”—the loyal angels of heaven. [Verses 5-7.] 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 6

Here the curtain that separates us from the unseen world is lifted, and we behold the conflict that is waged over every soul who believes in Christ. All heaven is interested in the people who are walking the ways of the Lord, and keeping His charge. Shall not the great love and care manifested by the world’s Redeemer and all the heavenly host in our behalf arouse us to love and good works in behalf of our fellow men? For the redemption of the human soul, the Majesty of heaven yielded up His life, and all the agencies of heaven are engaged in tireless ministry. In view of what heaven is doing to save the lost, how can those who are partakers of the riches of the grace of Christ withdraw their interest and their sympathies from their fellow men? How can they indulge in pride of rank or caste, and despise the unfortunate and the poor? 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 7

Yet it is too true that the pride of rank, and the oppression of the poor which prevail in the world, exist also among the professed followers of Christ. With many, the sympathies that ought to be exercised in full measure toward humanity seem frozen up. Men appropriate to themselves the gifts entrusted to them wherewith to bless others. The rich oppress the poor, and then with the means thus gained, they indulge their pride and love of display even in the house of God, so that the poor are made to feel that it is too costly a thing for them to attend the service of God. The feeling exists with many that only the rich can engage in the public worship of God so as to make a good impression on the world. Were it not that the Lord has revealed His love to the poor and lowly who are contrite in heart, this world would be a sad place for the poor man. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 8

The Word of God rebukes the narrow exclusiveness that is often manifested by the wealthy man toward his fellow man who for some reason has not acquired wealth. There is no respect of persons with God. The wealthy man has larger responsibilities than the poor man, but there is no caste with God. Those who have been unfortunate in temporal things, but who love and fear God, are registered in heaven as rich in faith and good works. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 9

The world’s Redeemer was the son of poor parents, and when in His infancy He was presented in the temple, His mother could bring only the offering appointed for the poor—a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons. He was the most precious gift of heaven to our world, a gift above all computation, yet it could be acknowledged only by the smallest offering. Our Saviour, during all His sojourn on earth, shared the lot of the poor and lowly. Self-denial and sacrifice characterized His life. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 10

All the favors and blessings we enjoy are alone from Him; we are stewards of His grace and of His temporal gifts; the smallest talent and the humblest service may be offered to Jesus as a consecrated gift, and with the fragrance of His own merits He will present it to the Father. If the best we have is presented with a sincere heart, in love to God, from a longing desire to do service to Jesus, the gift is wholly acceptable. Every one can lay up a treasure in the heavens. All can be “rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” [1 Timothy 6:18, 19.] 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 11

It is God’s purpose that the rich and the poor shall be closely bound together by the ties of sympathy and helpfulness. He has a plan for us individually. To all who shall serve Him He has appointed a work. He bids us to interest ourselves in every case of suffering or need that shall come to our knowledge. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 12

Our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich. He bids all whom He has entrusted with temporal blessings to follow His example. Jesus says, “The poor ye have always with you, and whensoever ye will, ye may do them good.” [Mark 14:7.] The want and wretchedness in the world are constantly appealing to our compassion and sympathy, and the Saviour declares that ministry to the afflicted and suffering is the service most pleasing to Him. “Is it not,” He says, “to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out, to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” [Isaiah 58:7.] We are to minister to the sick, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to instruct the ignorant. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 13

There are many who complain of God because the world is so full of want and suffering. But the Lord is a God of benevolence, and through His representatives, to whom He has entrusted His goods, He would have all the needs of His creatures supplied. He has made abundant provision for the wants of all, and if men did not abuse His gifts, and selfishly withhold them from their fellow men, none need suffer from want. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 14

It is not wise to give indiscriminately to every one who may solicit our aid, for we may thus encourage idleness, intemperance, and extravagance. But if one comes to your door and says he is hungry, and not turn him away empty. Give him something to eat, of such things as you have. You know not his circumstances, and it may be that his poverty is the result of misfortune. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 15

But among all whose needs demand our interest, the widow and the fatherless have the strongest claims upon our tender sympathy and care. “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” [James 1:27.] 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 16

The father who has died in the faith, resting upon the eternal promise of God, left his loved ones in full trust that the Lord would care for them. And how does the Lord provide for these bereaved ones? He does not work a miracle in sending manna from heaven, He does not send ravens to bring them food; but He works a miracle upon human hearts, He expels selfishness from the soul, He unseals the fountain of the benevolence. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 17

He tests the love of His professed followers by committing to their tender mercies the afflicted and bereaved ones, the poor and the orphan. These are in a special sense the little ones whom Christ looks upon, whom it is an offense to Him to neglect. Those who do neglect them are neglecting Christ in the person of His afflicted ones. Every kind act done to them in the name of Jesus, is accepted by Him as done to Himself, for He identifies His interest with that of suffering humanity, and He has entrusted to His church the grand work of ministering to Jesus by helping and blessing the needy and suffering. On all who shall minister to them with willing hearts, the blessing of the Lord will rest. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 18

Until death shall be swallowed up in victory, there will be orphans to be cared for, who will suffer in more ways than one if the tender compassion and loving-kindness of our church members are not exercised in their behalf. The Lord bids us, “Bring the poor that are cast out to thy house.” [Isaiah 58:7.] Christianity must supply fathers and mothers for these homeless ones. The compassion for the widow and the orphan, manifested in prayers and deeds, will come up in remembrance before God, to be rewarded by and by. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 19

There is a wide field before all who will work for the Master in caring for these friendless children and youth, placing them in a position favorable for the formation of a right character, that they may become children of God. There are unpromising children that need to be tenderly sought for; many that would otherwise grow up in ignorance, and drift into associations that lead to vice and crime, may be brought into favorable surroundings, and under Christlike, tender watchcare may be saved to Christ. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 20

The children and youth are God’s property; the Lord formed their bodies and gave them the breath of life, and Jesus died for them, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. Are you who profess to be children of God acting your part to teach these, who so much need to be patiently instructed, how to come to the Saviour? Are you overcoming your indolence and slothfulness, and acting your part as laborers together with God, faithful servants of Christ? Are these unformed, perhaps ill-balanced minds, cared for with that love which Christ has manifested for us? The souls of children and youth are in deadly peril if left to themselves. They need patience, love, tender Christlike care. This will break every barrier down. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 21

Were there no revelation to point out our duty, the very sight of our eyes, and what we know of the inevitable working of cause and effect, should rouse us to rescue these unfortunate ones. If men would bring into this work the same energy and tact and skill that they employ in the common business relations of life, and while seeking wisdom from God would earnestly study how to mold these undisciplined minds, many souls might be rescued from the multitudes that are ready to perish. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 22

If parents would feel the solicitude for the salvation of their own children that they should have, if they would bear them in their prayers to the throne of grace, and then live out their prayers, knowing that God is co-operating with them, they might become successful workers for children outside of their own family, and especially for those who have not parental counsel and guidance. The Lord calls upon every member of the church to do your duty to these orphans. Do not, however, work for them merely from the standpoint of duty, but because you love them, and Christ died to save them. Christ has purchased these souls that need your care, and He expects you to love them as He has loved you in your sins and waywardness. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 23

Love is the agency through which God works to draw the heart to Him. It is the power by which He expels sin from the soul. In every department of life this principle must be the controlling power. In every enterprise of mercy this alone can give efficiency; the finite must unite with the infinite; and “God is love.” [1 John 4:8.] 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 24

This work for others will require effort and self-denial and sacrifice; but what is the little sacrifice that we can make, in comparison with God’s great gift of His only begotten Son? God has granted us the privilege of becoming laborers together with Him. In His plan there is a positive necessity for good works, for His plan for the uplifting of man is made dependent upon the co-operation of His human agents. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 25

God imparts His blessing to us, that we may give to others. And as long as we yield ourselves as the channels through which His love can flow, He will keep the channels supplied. When you ask God for your daily bread, He looks right into your heart to see if you will impart the same to others, more needy than yourself. When you pray, “God be merciful to me a sinner” [Luke 18:13], He watches to see if you will manifest compassion to those with whom you associate. This is the evidence of our connection with God—that we are merciful even as our Father who is in heaven is merciful. If we are His, we shall do with a cheerful heart just what He tells us to do, however inconvenient, however contrary it may be to our own feelings. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 26

God is always giving; and upon whom are His gifts bestowed? Upon those who are faultless in character? He “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” [Matthew 5:45.] Notwithstanding the sinfulness of humanity, notwithstanding we of often grieve the heart of Christ, when we ask His forgiveness He does not turn us away, although we are most undeserving. It pleases and honors God when we expect great things at His hand. He has promised us great blessings through our Saviour, and we cannot dishonor His name more than to doubt His love and His willingness to bless us. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 27

How are the world to know God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent? through His Word and through His human agents. We are to be His representatives. Through us the world will form their opinion of God and of the religion of Christ. Therefore Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” [John 15:8.] “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” [Matthew 5:16.] When men see, they glorify God. Great dishonor is brought upon the cause of God because those who profess Christ do not possess His Holy Spirit, but walk in their own ways. What a terrible misrepresentation of God, His ways, His character, are the selfishness of life and hardness of heart of His professed followers. A profession of piety is not enough; if religion is not brought into practical service, and does not produce good works, it is valueless. If we do not live to bless others, we are unfaithful stewards, and we shall never receive the heavenly benediction, “Well done.” [Matthew 25:21.] But God will have a peculiar people, of whom it is written that Christ is not ashamed to call them brethren. They bear His likeness. They are a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 28

It is in doing the works of Christ, ministering as He did to the suffering and afflicted, that we are to develop Christian character. It is for our good that God has called us to practice self-denial for Christ’s sake, to bear the cross, to labor and sacrifice in seeking to save that which is lost. This is the Lord’s process of refining, purging away the baser material, that the precious traits of character which were in Christ Jesus may appear in the believer. All dross must be cleansed from the soul, through the sanctification of the truth. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 29

If good works cost us no sacrifice, then they would not be disciplinary. There are obligations which bring us into conflict with natural feelings and propensities, and in fulfilling these obligations we gain victory after victory over every objectionable feature of our character. The warfare goes on, and thus we grow in grace. Thus our character is developed in the likeness of Christ, and we are prepared for a place among the blessed in the kingdom of God. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 30

Through the grace of Christ our efforts to bless others are not only the means of our growth in grace, but they will enhance our future, eternal happiness. To those who have been coworkers with Christ it will be said, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Verse 23.] Although we have no merit in ourselves, yet in the great goodness and love of God we are rewarded as if the merit were our own. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 31

When we have done all the good we can possibly do, we are still unprofitable servants. We have done only what was our duty. What we have accomplished has been wrought solely through the grace of Christ, and no reward is due to us from God on the ground of our merit. But through the merit of our Saviour, every promise that God has made will be fulfilled, and every man will be rewarded according to his deeds. The precious rewards of the future will be proportionate to the work of faith and labor of love in the present life. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 32

“He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” [2 Corinthians 9:6.] We should be most grateful that now in probationary time through the infinite mercy of God, we are permitted to sow the seed for our future harvest. We should carefully consider what the harvest will be. Whether the crown of our eternal rejoicing shall be bright or dim depends upon our own course of action. We may make our calling and electing sure, and may come into possession of the rich inheritance, or we may defraud ourselves of the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 33

“Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.” [Daniel 12:2, 3.] 8LtMs, Ms 98, 1893, par. 34