Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 17, 1897

Use of the Tithe

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

March 14, 1897

This manuscript is published in entirety in SpTA #10 16-25.

Letters have come to me from Oakland and Battle Creek making inquiries as to the disposition made of the tithe. The writers supposed that they were authorized to use the tithe money in meeting the expenses of the church, as these expenses were quite heavy. From that which has been shown me, the tithe is not to be withdrawn from the treasury. Every penny of this money is the Lord’s own sacred treasure, to be appropriated for a special use. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 1

There was a time when there was very little missionary work done, and the tithe was accumulated. In some instances the tithe was used for similar purposes as is now proposed. When the Lord’s people felt aroused to do missionary work in home and foreign missions, and [to] send missionaries to all parts of the world, those handling sacred interests should have had clear, sanctified discernment to understand how the means should be appropriated. When they see ministers laboring without money to support them, and the treasury is empty, then that treasury is to be strictly guarded. Not one penny is to be removed from it. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 2

Ministers have just as much right to their wages as have the workers employed in the Review & Herald Office, and the laborers in the Pacific Publishing House. A great robbery has been practiced in the meager wages paid to some of the workers. If they give their time and thought and labor to the service of the Master, they should have wages enough to supply their family with food and clothing. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 3

The tithe is required of the minister. He does his share according to his ability, and should receive his due. The ministers are often placed where they have to lead out in donations in the places where they labor, and in defraying the expenses of tents, besides providing food for themselves. Many have families at home to support. If they were not travelling from place to place, less expensive clothing could be worn; the extra money paid for tents at camp meetings and in donations, so frequently leave them no surplus that they feel restrained from acting a part in various enterprises which they would be pleased to participate in. This is expected of them, and in order to do this, they pledge. This pledge they are often a long time in paying; it hangs upon them as a debt which they are frequently unable to lift. It is a great self-denial on the part of these men to thus separate from their families. They are forced to take up with all kinds of fare, and to eat all kinds of food, especially is countries where the standard of truth is first lifted. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 4

The light which the Lord has given me on this subject is that the means in the treasury for the support of the ministers in the different fields is not to be used for any other purpose. If an honest tithe were paid, and the money coming into the treasury were carefully guarded, the ministers would receive a just wage. The auditing committee have often been composed of men who were farmers. These could dress in coarse clothing appropriate for the work they were doing. They raised all they needed as a family to subsist upon, and they knew not what the outlay of a minister must necessarily be when he goes into a new field to labor for perishing souls. The outlook is often hard and discouraging. Some fields, when the work is first opened up, are encouraging; but there are other fields that are not so. Both must receive the truth. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 5

The minister must labor and pray. He must visit the different families. Frequently he finds the people so poor that they have little to eat and no room in which to sleep. Often means have to be given to the very needy to supply their hunger and cover their nakedness. Then what injustice to have a company of men as Auditing Committee who by a dash of the pen will disappoint a distressed minister who is in need of every cent that he has been led to expect. There would be just as much fairness in having a committee decide whether the men employed in our institutions should have their stipulated wages, or should have them curtailed as the human agent, who will himself be in no wise affected by the strait places they may pass through, shall decide. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 6

The minister who labors should be sustained. But notwithstanding this, those who are officiating in this work see that there is not money in the treasury to pay the minister. They are withdrawing the tithe for other expenses—to keep up the meeting house necessities or some charity. God is not glorified in any such work. We have to raise our voice against this kind of management. Let those who have comfortable homes, and are not called upon to leave their families consider this matter. Gifts and offerings should be brought in by the people as they are privileged in having houses of worship, as in Battle Creek and Oakland, two of our largest churches. Let house to house labor be done in setting before the families in Battle Creek and Oakland their duty in acting a part in meeting these expenses, which may be called common or secular, and let not the treasury be robbed. There has not been money in the treasury to supply ministers for the service of God. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 7

Let those who take such delight in devoting so largely of their means to clothing their bodies, consider that they are using God’s money, that might be invested in bearing the truth to those that are perishing in their sins. They need the gospel presented to them, they need to be taught that they must be clothed with the garments of the righteousness of Christ, else they cannot have a place with the saints in light. Those who have had great light, and yet continue to follow the fashions of the world in dress, are using the Lord’s money to gratify their pride. They are robbing the cause of God of the means which might far better, for their present and eternal good, be invested in missionary work. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 8

When those whose names are on the church books shall be converted, they will no longer delight in their display of dress in the house of God. This is looked upon by the Lord’s holy Watcher from heaven, who traces the whole history from cause to effect. He sees what might have been done with the means had it been used to glorify God, rather than to minister to their pride, and separate their souls from God. The Lord will not serve with the selfish indulgence of these men and women. Had they clothed themselves with modest apparel, as the Holy Spirit has specified they should do, they would have had the blessing of God. The atmosphere surrounding their souls would not be as a spiritual malaria to others who come into the faith. Such examples of show and of the love of dress, is following the fashions of this degenerate age; this leaven of pride and extravagance is gathering to itself, until the whole lump will be leavened. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 9

The church without living godliness is like the fig tree, to which Christ, hungering for food, came and searched for fruit, and found nothing but leaves. This is as it is with many who profess religion; and our position, having as we have, great light, great opportunities, great privileges, will bring the curse that came upon the fig tree, upon all who have a name to live, and are fruitless. When Christ uttered the words, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth forever,” presently “the fig tree withered away.” [Matthew 21:19.] 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 10

The Lord is coming speedily, yet notwithstanding His professed people read the signs of the times—of famines, of thousands being swept away by earthquakes and floods, by fire, by calamities by sea and land, by plagues, by war and bloodshed—the love of self so deadens spiritual senses, that the day of the Lord will come upon them as a thief in the night, and He declares, “They shall not escape.” [1 Thessalonians 5:3.] The Lord is to judge both quick and dead at His appearing in His kingdom. Will these stand in their pride and self-glorification before that tribunal, when the judgment will sit, and the books will be opened, and every man shall be judged according as his works have been? 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 11

Christ declares, “I know thy works.” [Revelation 2:2.] Does the Lord seem to be too far away, too indistinct, to produce any appreciable effect on the conduct of the human agent? Shall the hellish shadow of [Satan] ever be penetrated by living faith? Christ is a personal, present Saviour, one who is ordering all things for His own glory. He is accessible at all times if we will come to Him in contrition of soul. I would urge upon all in Battle Creek to wake from your spiritual death-like slumber. Unless you do, it will pass into the slumber of eternal death. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 12

Those who have used the tithe money to supply the common necessities of the house of God, have taken the money that should go to sustain ministers in doing His work, in preparing the way for Christ’s second appearing. Just as surely as you do this work, you misapply the resources which God has told you to retain in His treasure house, that it may be full, to be used in His service. This work is something of which all who have taken a part in should be ashamed. They have used their influence to withdraw from God’s treasury a fund that is consecrated to a sacred purpose. From those who do this, the blessing of the Lord will be removed. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 13

The tithe money must be kept sacred. There are ministers who receive nothing for their labor, for there was no money to pay them. This I saw would be, for the management is wrong. Let every member of the church deny himself in dress, at the table, in house furniture, in carpets, in many things that are enjoyable, but not a necessity. There are souls to be saved. Can you be called workers together with Christ, can you be wearing His yoke, and yet your indulgence be cutting off the supplies of God’s house? I was permitted to hear your faithless bemoaning of the hard times. You should deny yourselves in many ways, and be thankful for that which you have. Talk no more your unbelief. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 14

If the brethren in responsible positions would talk faith and courage to all the workers in the office, if you would talk self-denial in the church, if you would practice it in your own families, if you would bear a clean cut testimony, which you have not yet borne, if you would all be mouthpieces for God, and present to the church the necessity for self-denial, the humiliation of the soul, praying for the Lord to forgive your pride, your foolish, senseless vanity, the Lord may pass by, and leave you a blessing. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 15

I call upon editors, I call upon every responsible man in the office of the Pacific Press to believe in Jesus Christ and the truth for this time. Let your works show that you believe your words of murmuring in the past to be wrong, that it is time now for you to cast your net on the right side of the ship, the side of faith. For the rest of your days, while probation lasts, show what can be done by [a] self-denying, self-sacrificing, consecrated living church. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 16

There is a work to be done in the office and in the Sanitarium. There is a work to be done in the churches of California. A different testimony must go forth from lips touched with the live coal from off the altar. When you are in Christ, you can bear a living testimony. But throughout the churches there is selfishness and sin, dishonesty, unbelief, criticism, and faultfinding. It is high time now for you to awake out of sleep. Believe with all your heart that Christ died for the world, that He died for you, that you must have an abiding Christ, and carry a message inspired by the Holy Ghost. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 17

We read that in olden times holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. [2 Peter 1:21.] This is what we need. This is what we must have. It is not a divided heart, a monotonous message, that we have to bear; it is a living message to dying men. Then talk not of appropriating the tithe that is to send forth ministers to preach the Word. Go to work, and see if you cannot speak words that will melt and subdue hearts. I am terribly alarmed. I say again, Put away your unbelief. You make the people selfish and unbelieving, because you talk selfishness and unbelief. You are to work now in an opposite direction, after seeking the Lord with all your heart. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 18

We need money here to carry forward the work. But we have no such resources to draw upon as you have in Oakland and Battle Creek. We cannot sustain ministers in the field, for there is no money in the treasury. I know from the light given me of God that there should be many workers in California. There should be workers in Michigan, and yet men are questioning in regard to using the tithe for other purposes than that which the Lord has specified. In California, in all our cities in America, in the highways and byways, men and women should go forth as consecrated workers, who will proclaim the message of warning. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 19

In Michigan, and Battle Creek especially, it has been thought that Dr. Kellogg was working disproportionately for the poor and wretched ones in medical missionary lines. Then why does not the General Conference go to work? Why does it allow the treasury, which should be kept for the purpose of sustaining the ministry, to be drawn upon and diverted to common things? Why should it permit its ministers to be half paid, and at the same time talk so begrudgingly of that which they do receive? When this work shall cease in our churches, a living testimony will go forth from human lips, under the operation of the Holy Ghost. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 20

Burdens have been borne, projects have been entered into, and time has been given to matters that God never intended any of you to study upon, or to undertake. Now, for Christ’s sake, change the order of things. In the place of having ministers drawn from their fields of labor to learn more, encourage them to communicate what they do know. You have robbed a world that is perishing in its sins of labor it should have had. If these men will work, if they will study, and consecrate themselves to God, if they will do the work with earnestness, with zeal, with faith and prayer, we shall see something done. Satan has stolen a march on us. 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 21

God desires that we shall put on the whole armor of righteousness. He says, “Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” [Ephesians 6:10, 11.] Read carefully the injunction here given by the inspired apostle, and “be ye doers of the word.” [James 1:22.] 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 22

(This is only a portion of the matter on this subject. I cannot get the remainder finished for this mail.) [For remainder, see Ms 24, 1897.] 12LtMs, Ms 17, 1897, par. 23