General Conference Daily Bulletin


March 2, 1899

A Misapplied Message


A Misapplied Message

The message, “Sell that ye have, and give alms,” is now to be given. But there are many who do not understand the object of this message. It is not the purpose of God that the revenues of the church shall be largely absorbed in the work for the poor and outcast classes. This work might be presented in such a way that every dollar would be drawn from our people, and there would be no resources left for aggressive warfare in new fields. But our brethren in America, who are engaged in medical missionary lines, can, by appealing to the people outside, obtain help, because theirs is not a denominational work. They should not draw their funds largely from our churches. The resources of the church are needed to support the gospel ministry, and to carry forward the work in new fields. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 1

The special work for this time is not to be restricted under the plea of giving to the poor. A lesson on this point is given in Christ's words to Mary at Simon's feast. In gratitude for her brother's restoration to life, and in full faith in Christ as his Saviour, Mary broke her alabaster box of precious ointment and poured its fragrant contents on the head and feet of her Lord. Indignation was expressed at the supposed waste. Some, even of Christ's own disciples, who ought to have known better, said, “To what purpose is this waste?” They thought that the ointment was thrown away when poured upon his head and his feet. “This ointment might have been sold for much,” they said, “and given to the poor.” When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, “Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you, but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.” GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 2

Was anything wasted in breaking their box of ointment as a gift to Jesus?—That gift was no waste. It is true that the ointment might have been sold for bread and clothing; thus a small number of destitute persons might have been fed for a short time; but it would have remained to be seen whether they would have been really benefited. Mary could not have bestowed that gift which to her seemed a faint representation of Christ's boundless love. Mary's act was immortalized; for it showed her love for her Saviour. Christ himself bound up that sacrifice of love with his own sacrifice, the greatest the world has ever seen. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 3

Mary represents the church, and her act has a lesson for the church in all ages. Christ has not bidden us bestow all our labor and all our gifts upon the poor. We have a work to do in behalf of those who are fulfilling his commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 4

The increase of the ministry will require an increase of means; for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Bear in mind, my brethren in America, that the Lord requires of you self-sacrifice. The sacrificing is not all to be done by one class. There is altogether too much spasmodic work. When you expend money, consider, “Am I encouraging prodigality?” When you give to the poor and wretched, consider, “Am I helping them, or hurting them?” GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 5

I understand that a plan has been thought of, for the erection of additional buildings in Battle Creek to accommodate the poor. God has not laid the burden of this work upon his people. The churches should not be sapped of their funds for such an enterprise. The special work to be done at this time, no interest must interpose to hinder. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 6

Think of the necessities of our mission fields throughout the world. The London mission is in distressing need of help. There is a most solemn and important work to be done in that vast city. God designs that his workmen there shall have advantages to do some of the same work which Christ did when he was ministering in this world. So in Scandinavia and in the Central European field, means are required to advance the work in its different lines. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 7

The Lord has presented to us that the enemy is still seeking with all his power to center the work in Battle Creek, contrary to the word of God. A movement to erect more buildings there, and to gather in more people who might better never see Battle Creek, will bring results for evil that are not now foreseen. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 8

Not all the institutions now at Battle Creek should have been there. Our people have found excuse after excuse for establishing new enterprises and erecting more buildings; but these excuses are no more valid with God than are those now urged for the enterprise contemplated; that is not the way of the Lord. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 9

Our churches are barely able to hold their ground against opposing forces. But they are told if they take hold of the work for the poorest classes, the Lord will bless them. But no blessing will come to any enterprise that has against it the Lord's plain. “Thou shalt not.” And God has long been warning his people not to center any more responsibilities in Battle Creek. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 10

The present time is burdened with eternal interests. We are to unfurl the standard of truth before a world perishing in error. God calls for men to rally under Christ's blood-stained banner, give the Bible to the people, multiply camp-meetings in different localities, warn the cities, and send the warning far and near in the highways and byways of the world. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 11

Our brethren have not discerned that in helping us to do this work, they would be helping themselves. That which is given to start the work here, will result in strengthening the work in other places. As your gifts free us from continual embarrassment, our labors can be extended; there will be an ingathering of souls, churches will be established, and there will be increasing financial strength. We shall have a sufficiency, not only to carry on the work here, but to impart to other fields. Nothing is gained by withholding the very means that would enable us to work to advantage, extending the knowledge of God and the triumphs of truth in regions beyond. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 12

However large the income or the possessions of any person, any family, or any institution, let them remember that they are only stewards, holding in trust the Lord's money. All profit, all pay, our time, our talents, our opportunities, are to be accounted for to him who gives them all. The Lord would not have the first thread of selfishness woven into the fabric of his work: he is constantly proving us to see if our work is free from selfishness and pride. Those workers will have the richest reward, who prove that they love God supremely and their neighbors as themselves. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 13

The spirit of covetousness and selfishness, like threads drawn into the web, has been working in our American institutions, until the spirit that should control them has been lost sight of. This has deprived them of great blessings. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 14

If the workers in America had imparted to others of their great mercies, they would have seen prosperity in England. They would have sympathized with the workers who are struggling with difficulties there, would have had the heart to say, not only in a word, but in action, “All ye are brethren.” The strengthening of the work in English-speaking countries, would have given our laborers a hundred-fold more influence than they have had to plant the standard of truth in many places. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 15

An Appeal for Help

Now at the beginning of the year 1899, seeing the work that might have been done in this field, and that is not done, and knowing the will of God in the matter, I appeal to my brethren in America. I can hold my peace no longer. I say to our churches, If you have property in lands or money consecrated to the work of God, we need a portion of it just now. I ask you to send us help without delay. Your gifts need not pass through any conference organization. The more the people in Battle Creek have had to work with, the more they have sought to gather, and the less they have felt the necessity of advancing the work in other English-speaking countries. The more these stewards can gather from the churches, the less they feel like sharing with the workers who have toiled faithfully in other fields. Let your liberalities come to us direct. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 16

You owe the Lord much, vastly more than you comprehend or can ever compute. Will you recognize this obligation? God will recognize every effort made to help us in lifting the standard of truth in every city and in every suburb. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 17

One of the most effective aids in bringing the light to the people here will be a well-equipped sanitarium. In this enterprise the boards and managers of our sanitariums in America have a special duty to help us. Let the help be given while there are those of experience here to manage the interests of the work. The Lord who has made you beneficiaries of his grace and recipients of his bounty now calls upon you to withdraw some of the means from the varied channels to which it is constantly flowing. Let it be put where it will make a showing, distinct and decided in this missionary field. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 18

The Battle Creek sanitarium has received thousands of dollars in donations which should be passed over to institutions in other countries, which are struggling for an existence. And more than this, the profits of the sanitarium should be largely used in helping similar institutions in needy circumstances. I am now directed by the Lord to call upon you to do something for us, and to do it without delay. Some division of your funds must be made for this purpose. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 19

Is it not just as important that the half-finished building represented to me should have money and facilities to complete it, as it was that the institutions in Battle Creek should be built up? Have not I a right to demand in the name of the Lord that this should be done? Will you not help us to gain a foothold here, that we may stand as co-workers with you in America? GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 20

The enemy will invent every device in his power to prevent the light from shining in new places. He does not want the truth to go forth as a lamp that burneth. Will our brethren consent that he shall any longer succeed in his plans for hindering the work? GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 21

Time is rapidly passing into eternity. Will any one now keep back from God that which is strictly his own? Will any one refuse him that which, though it may be given without merit, can not be denied without ruin? The Lord has given to every man his work, and the holy angels want us to be doing that work. As you shall watch and pray and work, they stand ready to co-operate with you. When the understanding is worked by the Holy Spirit, then all the affections act harmoniously in compliance with the divine will. Then men will give to God his own, saying, “All things come of thee, and of thine own we freely give thee.” May God forgive my brethren that they have not done this. GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 22

The very being who fills all heaven with splendor, and who is worshiped by the heavenly host, came to our earth, humiliating himself as a man, that we might be exalted to share his glory. Shall not we also sacrifice that others may be lifted up? GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 23

I have tried to set things before you; but the attempt falls far short of the reality. Will you refuse my plea? It is not I who appeal to you; it is the Lord Jesus, who has given his life for this people. In my request I obey the will, the requirement of God. Will you improve this opportunity of showing honor to God's work here, and respect for the servants whom he has sent to do his will in guiding souls to heaven? GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 24

“But 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: 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. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the wants of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; whiles by the experiment of this ministration, they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them and to all men; and by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!” GCDB March 2, 1899, par. 25

Ellen G. White.