Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 8 (1893)


Ms 99, 1893

Liberality the Fruit of Love



Formerly Undated Ms 78. This manuscript is published in entirety in RH 05/09/1893, 05/16/1893.

“There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming into him and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” [Acts 10:1-4.] 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 1

It is a wonderful favor for any man in this life to be commended of God as was Cornelius. And what was the ground of this approval?—“Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 2

Neither prayers nor alms-giving has any virtue in itself to recommend the sinner to God; the grace of Christ, through His atoning sacrifice, can alone renew the heart and make our service acceptable to God. This grace had moved upon the heart of Cornelius. Though he knew not the Son of God as revealed in his life on earth, the Spirit of Christ has spoken to his soul; Jesus had drawn him, and he had yielded to the drawing. His prayer and alms were not urged or extorted from him; they were not a price he was seeking to pay in order to secure heaven; but they were the fruit of love and gratitude to God. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 3

Such prayer from a sincere heart ascends as incense before the Lord; and offerings to His cause, and gifts to the needy and suffering, are a sacrifice well pleasing to Him. Thus the gifts of the Philippian brethren, who ministered to the needs of the apostle Paul, while a prisoner at Rome, are said to be “an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.” [Philippians 4:18.] 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 4

Prayer and alms-giving are closely linked together—the expression of love to God and to our fellow men. They are the out-working of the two great principles of the divine law, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength;” and “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” [Mark 12:30, 31.] Thus while our gifts cannot recommend us to God, or earn His favor, they are an evidence that we have received the grace of Christ. They are a test of the sincerity of our profession of love. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 5

A beautiful illustration of that spirit of love and self-sacrifice which the grace of Christ implants in the heart is given in the experience of the Macedonian Christians. The apostle Paul writes of them; “In a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying as with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” [2 Corinthians 8:2-5.] And wherever the Spirit of Christ abides, the same fruits will be manifest. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 6

The Lord has made the proclamation of the gospel dependent on the consecrated ability and the voluntary gifts and offerings of His people. While He has called men to preach the Word, He has made it the privilege of the whole church to share in the work by contributing of their means to its support. And He has bidden them also to care for the poor, as representatives of Himself. A tithe of all our income the Lord claims as His own, to be devoted solely to the support of those who give themselves to the preaching of the gospel. And besides this He asks of us gifts and offerings for His cause, and also to supply the needs of the poor. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 7

God might have carried forward His work in the world and have provided for the poor without the co-operation of man. He asks for our service and our gifts, not only that we may thus manifest our love for Him and our fellow men, but because the service and sacrifice for the good of others will strengthen the spirit of beneficence in the giver’s heart, allying us more closely to Him who was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich. And it is only as we thus imitate the Saviour’s example that our characters will be developed in His likeness. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 8

Those who flatter themselves that they can be Christians, and yet not be sharers of Christ’s labors and sacrifice, are under a deception that if not broken will prove fatal to the soul. The Lord has given many warnings to arouse them to see their danger. The words of the prophet Malachi concerning the matter of giving have a special reference to our own time: 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 9

“The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap.” [Malachi 3:1, 2.] The coming of Christ which is here referred to is not his second advent to this earth, but his coming to the investigative judgment in the most holy place of the sanctuary in heaven. Thus the message is especially to us who are living in the time of the judgment. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 10

“And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” [Verse 3.] An offering in righteousness is an offering of means that has been acquired justly. It is an offering from one who has exercised mercy and thoughtfulness, and in no case has wronged his neighbor. It is such a gift, prompted by love, that is fragrant before God. “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” [Verse 4.] 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 11

“And I will come near to you to judgment, and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of Hosts.” [Verse 5.] There are those who have obtained means by dishonest practices or by oppression of the poor, and then to ease their conscience they bring an offering to God. In so doing they dishonor the Lord. He cannot accept their gifts. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 12

The prophet Micah declares: “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? ... Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable? Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?” [Micah 6:6-8, 10, 11.] Money acquired by doing wrong to your neighbor, whether believer or unbeliever, is registered in the books of heaven as unlawful gain. And those who think to make a compromise with God by bringing this means to His treasury are deceiving their own souls. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 13

“Go to now ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter.” [James 5:1-5.] 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 14

The prophet Malachi continues: “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all”—(the full amount required by God). Let there be no withholding part of the price because the selfish heart desires to do this and will even take from the Lord that which He claims as His own.—“the tithes into the store-house, that there may be meat in mine house.” [Malachi 3:7-10.] 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 15

God has made men His stewards, and from all to whom He has entrusted His gifts He asks for a return. As he has blessed us, he asks of us a gift to bless others. The revenue thus brought into His treasury, to supply the needs of His cause, He calls “meat in mine house.” [Verse 10.] 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 16

The Lord is ever bestowing His blessings and mercies upon men. Should He withdraw these gifts, we should perish. Every moment He has His human family in view. “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.] He gives us “fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” [Acts 14:17.] It is God who gives men power to get wealth. The quick, sharp thought, the ability to plan and execute, are from Him. It is He who blesses us with health, and opens ways for us to acquire means by diligent use of our powers. And He says to us, “A portion of the money I have enabled you to gain is Mine. Put it into the treasury in tithes, in gifts and offerings, that there may be meat in Mine house—that there may be something to sustain those who carry the gospel of My grace to the world. Money must be provided by My stewards to advance the different branches of My work, to build up My kingdom.” 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 17

The Saviour’s commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” has descended to us in this generation. [Mark 16:15.] The last call of mercy is to be given to a perishing world. The message of truth must be carried to all lands. As missionaries raise the standard in new fields, there must be funds to supply facilities, to establish the work as the growing wants of the cause demand. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 18

This matter of giving is not left to impulse. God has given us definite instruction in regard to it. He has specified tithes and offerings as the measure of our obligation. And He desires us to give regularly and systematically. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “Concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” [1 Corinthians 16:1, 2.] Let each regularly examine his income, which is all a blessing from God, and set a part the tithe as a separate fund, to be sacredly the Lord’s. This fund should not in any case be devoted to any other use; it is to be devoted solely to the support of the ministry of the gospel. After the tithe is set apart, let gifts and offerings be apportioned, “As God hath prospered you.” 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 19

In the Bible system of tithes and offerings the amounts paid by different persons will of course vary greatly, since they are proportioned to the income. With the poor man, the tithes will be a comparatively small sum and his gifts will be according to his ability. But it is not the greatness of the gift that makes the offering acceptable to God; it is the purpose of the heart, the spirit of gratitude and love that it expresses. Let not the poor feel that their gifts are so small as to be unworthy of notice. Let them give according to their ability, feeling that they are servants of God, and that He will accept their offerings. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 20

The one to whom God has entrusted a large capital will not, if he loves and fears God, find it a burden to meet the demands of an enlightened conscience according to the claims of God. The rich will be tempted to indulge selfishness and avarice and to withhold from the Lord His own. But he who is true to God will, when tempted, answer to Satan, “It is written;” “Will a man rob God?” [Malachi 3:8.] “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?” [Mark 8:36, 37.] 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 21

The offerings made to God by His professed people would be much larger if it were not for the selfish love of ease, the manufactured wants, the lack of economy, the love of luxuries, the gratification of appetite, the desire for self-pleasing. But the life and character of Christ and the lessons he has given to his followers present no encouragement to selfishness. How much of self-indulgence did Christ have in His life? He for our sake became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich. And He said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” [Verse 34.] Self-indulgence, self-pleasing, pride, and extravagance must be renounced. We cannot be Christians and gratify these propensities. We cannot love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves and devote to our own use the means entrusted to us to honor and glorify God. We need to make a practical application of the lessons of our Saviour’s life and teachings. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 22

In view of all the gifts of God to us, the question is asked, “Will a man rob God?” as though such a sin were not possible. But the Lord declares, “Ye have robbed me.” [Malachi 3:8.] God reads the covetous thought in every heart that purposes to withhold from Him. Those who are selfishly neglectful in paying their tithes and bringing their gifts and offerings to the treasury, God sees. The Lord Jehovah understands it all. As a book of remembrance is written before Him of them that fear the Lord, and that think upon His name, so there is a record kept of all who are appropriating to themselves the gifts which God entrusted to them to use for the salvation of souls. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 23

We should never forget that we are placed on trial in this world, to determine our fitness for the future life. None can enter heaven whose characters are defiled by the foul blot of selfishness. Therefore God tests us here by committing to us temporal possessions, that our use of these may show whether we can be entrusted with eternal riches. And the time is near when the case of every soul will be forever decided. “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” [Verse 18.] 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 24

Those who keep eternal realities in view, who love the Lord with all the heart and soul and strength, and their neighbor as themselves, will conscientiously do their whole duty, as if the curtain were rolled back, and they could see that they were working in view of the heavenly universe. The spirit of Christian liberality will strengthen as it is exercised, and will not need to be unhealthfully stimulated. All who possess this spirit, the spirit of Christ, will with cheerful alacrity press their gifts into the Lord’s treasury. Inspired by love for Christ and for the souls for whom He has died, they feel an intense earnestness to act their part with fidelity. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 25

Should all who claim to be sons and daughters of God conscientiously meet their obligation to God and their fellowmen in tithes and offerings, an abundance would flow into the treasury to sustain the work of God in its different branches throughout our world. As they should impart, the Lord would open ways whereby they would be able to continually bestow, because they were continually receiving. There would then be no occasion to make appeals for means to sustain the cause. If the principle of giving to the Lord His own carried out regularly and systematically, it would be acknowledged of God. “Them that honor me I will honor.” [1 Samuel 2:30.] 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 26

“This I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity (not feeling that he is compelled to give): for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth forever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.” [2 Corinthians 9:6-11.] 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 27

The offerings that are the fruit of self-denial prompted by love are represented by the words spoken by God to Cornelius: “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” [Acts 10:4.] Who does not desire such memorials?—deeds which are before God as a voice speaking in behalf of the human agent, keeping our names fresh and fragrant in the heavenly sanctuary? 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 28

Alms and prayers are to be united; both are offerings to God, the one the supplement of the other. Merely to pray and to have good intentions is not enough. All Christians are under obligation to labor and sacrifice in the spirit with which Christ labored for the salvation of souls. Not only has the Lord given us, as His stewards talents of means to render back to the Giver, but He has endowed us with mental powers to use for Him. He has made us the stewards of His grace, that both spiritual and temporal gifts may be employed for the saving of souls and the glory of Him who so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 29

The fields are opening everywhere, calling for the living preacher. At home and abroad are openings that there seems no way to fill. Yet there is a large number who have the light of truth, and if these would do all in their power to give light to others, how much might be accomplished! All cannot be preacher of the Word, but in their own homes all might do something for Christ. They could do a good work among their neighbors. If they would put their minds and hearts to the work, they might devise plans by which they could be useful in a small way, whatever their position. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 30

The ever increasing opportunities for usefulness, the providential openings for the Word of God to be presented, demand our offerings of time and intellect and money, gifts large and small, as God has prospered us, to make a way for the truth in the dark places of the earth, to set up the standard of righteousness, and to advance the interests of the kingdom of Christ. The heavenly angels are waiting to unite with the human agent, that many souls may hear and be impressed by the Holy Spirit and be converted. 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 31

We have long been looking and waiting for the coming the Lord; but are we doing all in our power to hasten His coming? “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” [2 Peter 3:9.] While the Lord is ever working, while all heaven is engaged in the work on earth to draw men to Christ and repentance, what are the human agents doing to be channels of light, that they may co-operate with the divine agencies? Are they daily inquiring, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” [Acts 9:6.] Are they practicing self-denial as did Jesus? Are they deeply stirred, their hearts drawn out in prayer to God that they may be receiving of His grace, the Holy Spirit of God, that they may have wisdom to work with their ability and their means to save souls that are perishing out of Christ? 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 32

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” [Malachi 3:10.] 8LtMs, Ms 99, 1893, par. 33