Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Ms 60, 1896

God’s Claims On His Stewards

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

October 1896

Portions of this manuscript are published in SpTA #9 67-74.

Friday, October 2, W. C. White and Sara McEnterfer, my secretary, accompanied me to Sydney. We were met at Ashfield by Brother Semmens, and during our stay in Sydney were entertained at his house. Sabbath, W. C. White met with the church at Parramatta. Brother Schowe conducted the morning meeting at Ashfield, and Brother Semmens conducted the service at Newtown. Sabbath afternoon I met with the church at Ashfield. The Lord gave me a message for the people assembled. I presented before them the third chapter of Malachi. I cannot see how the Lord could present His requirements in a clearer and more forcible manner than He has done in this chapter. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 1

All should remember that God’s claims upon us underline every other claim. He gives to us bountifully, and the contract which He has made with man is that he is to return to Him the tenth of his possessions. God graciously entrusts His stewards with His treasures, but He lays His hand upon the tenth, saying, “This is mine.” Just in proportion as God has given His property to man, so man is to pay a faithful tithe of all His substance. This distinct arrangement was made by Jesus Christ Himself. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 2

This work involves solemn and eternal results, and it is too sacred to be left to human impulse. We should not feel free to deal with this matter as we may choose. In answer to the claims of God, regular reserves should be set apart as sacred to His work. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 3

Besides the tithe, the Lord demands the firstfruits of our increase as His. These He has reserved, in order that His work in the earth may be amply sustained, and that His servants may not be limited to a meager supply. The Lord’s messengers should not be handicapped in their work of holding forth the Word of life. As they teach the truth, they should have means which they can invest for the advancement of the work which must be done at the right time in order to have the best and most saving influence. Deeds of mercy must be done, the poor and suffering must be aided. Gifts and offerings should be appropriated for this purpose. Especially in new fields, where the standard of truth has never yet been uplifted, this work must be done. If all, both old and young, would do their duty, there would be no dearth in the treasury. If all would pay a faithful tithe, and devote to the Lord the firstfruits of their mercies, there would be a full supply of funds for His work. But the law of God is not respected or obeyed, and this has brought a pressure of want. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 4

Every extravagance should be cut out of our lives, for the time which we have to work is none too long. All around us we see suffering humanity. Families are in want of food; little ones are crying for bread. The houses of the poor lack proper furniture and bedding. Many live in mere hovels, which are almost destitute of all convenience. The cry of the poor reaches to heaven. God sees; God hears. But many glorify themselves. While their fellow men are poor and hungry, suffering for want of food, they expend much on their tables and eat for more than they require. What an account men will by and by have to render for their selfish use of God’s money! Those who disregard the provision God has made for the poor will find that they have not only robbed their fellow men, but that in robbing them, they have robbed God and have embezzled His goods. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 5

All things belong to God, and all the good that man enjoys comes because of the mercy of God. He is the great and bountiful Giver of all. His love is manifest to all in the abundant provision which He has made for man. He has given us probationary time in which to form characters that will fit us for the courts above. And it is not because He needs anything that He asks us to reserve part of our possessions for Him. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 6

The Lord created every tree in Eden pleasant to the eyes and good for food, and He bade Adam and Eve freely enjoy his bounties. But He made one exception. Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they were not to eat. This tree God reserved as a constant reminder of His ownership of all. Thus He gave them an opportunity to demonstrate their faith and trust in Him, and their perfect obedience to His requirements. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 7

So it is with God’s claims upon us. He places His treasures in the hands of humanity, but requires that one tenth shall be faithfully laid aside for His work. He teaches us the lesson that He requires this portion to be placed in His treasury. It is to be rendered to Him as His own; it is sacred, and is to be used for sacred purposes, for the support of those who carry the message of salvation to all parts of the world. He reserves this portion that means may ever be flowing into His treasure house, and that the light of truth may be carried to those who are nigh and those who are afar off. By faithfully obeying this requirement, we prove that we realize that all belongs to God. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 8

And has not the Lord a right to demand this much of us? Did He not give us His only begotten Son because He loved us and desired to save us from death? And shall not our gratitude offerings flow into the Lord’s treasury, to be drawn therefrom to advance His kingdom in the earth? God is the owner of all our goods, and shall not gratitude to Him prompt us to make freewill offerings and thank offerings, thus acknowledging His ownership of soul, body, spirit, and property? Had God’s plan been followed, means would now be flowing into His treasury; and funds to enable ministers to enter new fields, and workers to unite with ministers to lift up the standard of truth in the dark places of the earth, would be abundant. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 9

It is a heaven-appointed plan that men should return to the Lord His own, and this is so plainly stated that men and women have no excuse for misunderstanding or evading the duties and responsibilities God has laid upon them. Those who claim that they cannot see this to be their duty reveal to the heavenly universe, to the church, and to the world, that they do not want to see this plainly stated requirement. They think that if they followed the Lord’s plan, they would detract from their own possessions. In the covetousness of their selfish souls, they desire to have the whole capital, both principal and interest, that they may use it for their own benefit. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 10

God lays His hand upon all man’s possessions, saying, “I am the owner of the universe, and these goods are mine. The tithe you have withheld I reserved for the support of my servants in their work of opening the Scriptures to those who are in the regions of darkness, who do not understand my law. In using My reserve fund to gratify your own desires, you have robbed souls of the light which I made provision they should receive. You have had opportunity to show loyalty to Me, but you have not done so. You have robbed Me, for you have stolen my reserved fund. ‘Ye are cursed with a curse.’” [Malachi 3:9.] 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 11

The Lord is longsuffering and gracious, and He gives those who have done this wickedness another chance. “Return unto me,” He says, “and I will return unto you.” But they say, “Wherein shall we return?” [Verse 7.] Their means have been made to flow in channels of self-service and self-glorification, as if their goods were their own, and not lent treasures. Their perverted consciences have become so hard and unimpressible that they do not realize the great wickedness they have done in so hedging up the way that the cause of truth could not advance. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 12

Man, finite man, though using for himself the talents which God has reserved to publish salvation, to sent the glad news of a Saviour’s love to perishing souls, and hedging up the way by his selfishness, inquires, “Wherein have we robbed thee?” God answers, “In tithes and in offerings. Ye are cursed with a cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” [Verses 8, 9.] The whole world is engaged in robbing God. With the money He has lent them they indulge in dissipation, in amusements, revellings, feasting, and disgraceful indulgences. But God says, “I will come near you to judgment.” [Verse 5.] The whole world will have an account to settle in that great day when every one shall receive sentence according to his deeds. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 13

God pledges Himself to bless those who will obey His commandments. “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. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground, neither shall you vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed; for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.” [Verses 10-12.] 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 14

With these words of light and truth before them, how dare men to neglect so plain a duty? How dare they disobey God when obedience to His requirements means prosperity in temporal and spiritual things, and disobedience means the curse of God? Satan is the destroyer. God cannot bless those who refuse to be faithful stewards. All He can do is to permit Satan to do his destroying work. We see calamities of every shape and in every degree coming upon the earth; and why? The Lord’s restraining power is not exercised. The world has disregarded the Word of God. They live as though there were no God. Like the inhabitants of the Noachic world, they refuse to have any thought of God. Wickedness prevails to an alarming extent, and the earth is ripe for the harvest. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 15

“Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God, and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are delivered.” [Verses 13-15.] Those who withhold from God His own make these complaints. The Lord asks them to prove Him by bringing their tithe into His storehouse, and to see whether He will not pour them out a blessing. But they cherish rebellion in their hearts, and complain of God, and at the same time they rob Him, and embezzle His goods. When their sin is presented to them, they say, “I have had adversity; my crops have been poor; but the wicked are prospered. It does not pay to keep the ordinance of the Lord.” 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 16

But God does not want any to walk mournfully before Him. Those who thus complain of God have brought their adversity on themselves. They have robbed God, and His cause has been hindered because the money that should have flowed into His treasury was used for selfish purposes. They showed their disloyalty to God by failing to carry out His prescribed plan. When God prospered them, and they were asked to give Him His portion, they shook their heads, and could not see that it was their duty. They closed the eyes of their understanding, that they might not see it. They withheld the Lord’s money, and hindered the work which He designed should be done. God was not honored by the use of His entrusted goods. Therefore He let the curse fall upon them, permitting the spoiler to destroy their fruits and to bring calamities upon them. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 17

In (Malachi 3:16) an opposite class is brought to view, a class that meet together, not to find fault with God, but to speak of His glory, and tell of His mercies. These have been faithful in their duty. They have given to the Lord His own. Testimonies are borne by them that make the heavenly angels sing and rejoice. These have no complaints to make against God. Those who walk in the light, who are faithful and true in doing their duty, are not always complaining and finding fault. They speak words of courage, hope, and faith. It is those who serve themselves, who do not give God His own, that complain. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 18

“They that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” [Verses 16-18.] 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 19

This meeting made a deep impression upon the people. After the discourse, testimonies were borne. We know that the Lord was in our midst, working to send the truth home to the hearts of the people. 11LtMs, Ms 60, 1896, par. 20