The Home Missionary

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December 1, 1894

Practical Instruction

Reading for Sabbath, December 29.

EGW

Our Responsibility as Stewards

I seemed to be in an assembly of our people, and the subject to be presented was that of the opening of new fields, “the regions beyond,” that have not yet heard the sound of the third angel's message. The standard of truth is to be uplifted in cities, towns, and villages. The truth is to be carried into the highways and hedges, and all classes are to hear the gospel. Earnest prayer was offered to God for his counsel and guidance. The spirit of the Lord was present, and deep solemnity rested upon all. The Spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I was deeply moved under its influence. I presented before those who were assembled the necessity of all our laborers working in unity, with one mind and one judgment. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 1

A great work is to be accomplished in this country (Australia), and ministers and people will need to study carefully the principles of economy. Ministers and their wives are compelled to take leading positions; but they must be faithful sentinels over themselves, in order that imaginary wants shall not lead them to an extravagant expenditure of means. It will be necessary for every one connected with the cause to practice strict economy, so that every penny that can be spared from their income, may be used to advance the work of God. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 2

This testimony was presented before me in clear lines, and is applicable not only to Australia and New Zealand, but also to all other fields. The people of God are continually receiving of his rich bounties, and they should understand that all these rich favors come through Jesus Christ alone, who is the sin-bearer for our world. It was through self-denial and humiliation that Jesus Christ purchased our redemption; for he lived not to please himself. The self-denial of Christ calls for beneficent action on our part. If we represent the character of Christ, every particle of selfishness must be expelled from the soul. In carrying forward the work he gave to our hands, it will be necessary for us to give every jot and tittle of our means that we can spare. Poverty and distress in families will come to our knowledge, and afflicted and suffering ones will have to be relieved. We know very little of the human suffering that exists everywhere about us; but as we have opportunity, we should be ready to render immediate assistance to those who are under a severe pressure. We should invest means in sending the gospel to the poor, and aiding those who have ventured by faith to take their position upon the platform of eternal truth, when by so doing they have placed themselves in an embarrassing situation. Where there are cases of special need, ministers must be prepared to relieve those who are in poverty for the truth's sake. There should not be a careless expenditure of means simply because they have it on hand, tying it up in some investment, so that if cannot be utilized when needed. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 3

I have been perplexed to know how we may help those who are doing their best to live and keep the commandments of God. God calls upon us to bind about our wants, to have a genuine experience in daily self-denial. Although we may not be compelled to restrict our appetites, we should show that we do not live to eat, but eat to live. God demands a complete consecration of ourselves, soul, body, and spirit, to his service. Time is precious; strength is precious; no member of the family should be overtaxed because of unnecessary labor, and thus be disqualified to serve God and to keep his or her soul in the love of God. The Lord demands that we shall live simply. Our diet is not to consist of expensive food, or of unnecessary dishes, which require time and strength for preparation. It is profitable for us to consider the time in which we are living. We shall be called upon to engage in enterprises that will work for the salvation of the souls of men, women, and children. We must do this work in the spirit which Christ exercised in his mission, fulfilling the word, “Whosoever will come after me [follow in my footsteps], let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” So shall he be my disciple. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 4

When the Lord sees that we are copying our Model in spirit and action, and doing our best for the advancement of the cause, then he will be our treasure of resources. New fields are to be entered, and if the work advances into these new fields, then every one who loves Jesus will have to act a part in personal self-denial. The work cannot be done by a few bearing the burden, and others gaining no experience in burden-bearing, and yet all partake of the favor of God. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” If every one had a Christian experience after the self-denying order that Christ has enjoined, we should see far less selfish indulgence; we should see men and women giving themselves to the Lord, and working in their positions of trust as the Lord would have them, practicing the self-denial and self-sacrifice which we see in our Redeemer; and this is the will of God concerning us. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 5

We should heed the words of the apostle Paul when he said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Those who receive the mercies of God should have a disposition to respond to them. All things belong to God; all the good things which we enjoy are the results of divine love. God is the bountiful giver; in his large love he has given Jesus Christ, heaven's best gift, and how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? In his tender mercy and unspeakable love, he has not only provided for the wants of the soul, but has also not been forgetful to provide for the necessities of our bodies. He has made us his almoners, and has bestowed upon us his gifts, reserving tithes and offerings for the advancement of his work. He does not ask us to give these things because he could not get along without them; for he owns all things; but he reserves them for himself in order to give us, as his stewards, an opportunity to follow his example. He has given us the greatest gift he could possibly make, a gift of infinite value, so that it could not be said he could give a greater gift. In return, he asks that those who have been the recipients of such great love should render back to him a portion of that which he has given them, in order that “there may be meat in mine house.” He pronounces the withholding of that which he has reserved, as robbery toward himself. “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 tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me 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 your 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.” HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 6

Those who do not return to the Lord a portion of his entrusted goods, will be written in the heavenly records as embezzlers of their Lord's property. The almost empty treasury of the Lord's house testifies against those who have been remiss in their duty in paying to the Lord his own. They are not in a happy spiritual condition, and never can be, no matter what their assertions may profess. “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 ordinances, 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 even delivered.” HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 7

The Lord would have every one acknowledge that he is the rightful owner of all the goods which he has lent us to trade upon. He says to us, Render back to me the tithes and gifts, and offerings, as a token of your loyalty to me, and of your dependence upon me, and I will bless you, and you shall be channels of blessing. Your gratitude offerings will be a token of your sense of obligation to me. The gratitude that ends simply in words, has no particular value; for faith is made perfect by works, and without works your profession of faith is of no worth. God is continually giving, and the human agent is continually receiving. When we become weary of returning to the Lord his own, his blessing will be withheld from us. As long as we are dependent upon God's bounty, our obligations to render gratitude offerings to him are upon us. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 8

Time and strength and money have been frittered away simply for the gratification of taste, and yet all we have belongs to God, and is to be used for his glory. It is time that as families, and as a people, we should teach by precept and example how to be economical, self-denying, watchful and prayerful. We must lift the cross and follow Jesus. Our table should be a constant educator and enlightener to others, on account of its healthfulness and simplicity. We shall accomplish far more good in all lines of our work, if we live out the truth that we preach. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 9

That which brings the highest satisfaction to heavenly intelligences, is engaging in the work of bringing the invitation of mercy to those for whom Christ has given his life. Those who claim to love God and keep his commandments are to be good and to do good. We are to manifest tact and discretion, and be sure that we make such an outlay of means as will work for the greatest good of those whom Christ has purchased with his own blood. The truth will not go to those who are nigh, and to those who are far off, unless every man, woman, and child shall practice strict economy in all their expenditures, and consecrate that which they can save to the advancement of the work of God. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 10

I appeal to all our brethren and sisters to bear in mind the words of Christ, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Jesus, the world's Redeemer, gave his precious life to save fallen man; every son and daughter of Adam is his purchased possession. He paid the infinite price, the ransom money in his own precious life, to redeem man; therefore he identifies his interest with suffering humanity. He requires every man to be interested for his fellow-man, making the word of God his standard of duty. With meekness and lowliness of heart we are to show reverence and love to him who hath bought us, giving his own life, that “whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Then let love and tender regard toward our fellow-men be ever revealed, not merely in words, but in deeds. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 11

The children of the heavenly King, should represent the character of the Ruler of the heavenly kingdom. They should cultivate unity and love for one another, each member of the royal family loyally representing the principles of the government of God. Jesus Christ was sent of God; in his character and life he represented every principle of the law of God. What are the two great principles of that law?—Love to God and love to our neighbor. We are to cherish a warm, deep, abiding interest in one another, an unfeigned respect for our brethren and sisters. We are none of us to set ourselves up as critics, to discern defects in those with whom we associate, and then engage in a work of cannibalism, tearing to pieces the reputation of those who may be more precious in the sight of God than we are. Evil-thinking and evil-speaking are a great offense in the sight of God, and those who do these things are not born of the Spirit, but of the flesh. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 12

The sad thing in our churches today, is that Jesus is misrepresented in the character of those who profess to be his followers. Many claim to believe in and love Jesus, while they do neither. They advocate the law of God, but are transgressors of its precepts. The first four commandments require supreme love to God. Parents, children, wife, husband, houses, lands, or any other earthly treasure, whether of friends or property, are not to be loved selfishly, and thus become an idol to divert the mind, the time, the service, from God. He that loves and serves mammon, cannot love and serve God supremely. When friends and relations are loved with inordinate affection, they are taking the place in the heart where God should be. “Ye, therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.” “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” Here idolatry is plainly revealed, as existing in those who claim to worship God. The pure, refined, ennobling love is buried up by the love of carnal things. This the True Witness represents as a fearful loss in experience and character-building—the loss of the first love. “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place except thou repent.” The True Witness sends forth this warning. Mercy and the love of God are the attributes of his throne. While claiming to be the subjects of the kingdom of God, and yet refusing to be converted from their selfish love, their stern, iron will, their own perverse ways, many are constantly bearing a false testimony of Jesus Christ. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 13

I have been for a long time pressed under the burden of the fact that we are not elevating the standard as we should. New fields are continually opening, and the third angel's message must be proclaimed to all kindreds, nations, tongues, and peoples. We must not feel that we are compelled to hover over churches that have received the truth. We must not encourage the people to depend upon ministerial labor in order to preserve spiritual life. Everyone who has received the truth must go to God for his individual self, and decide to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Those who have embraced the third angel's message must not make man their trust, and depend upon the ministers to make their experience for them. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 14

Let every one do all in his power to help, both by his means and by his prayers, to carry the burden for souls for whom the ministers are laboring. Earnest prayer sent up to God for his blessing upon the laborers in the field, should follow the laborers as sharp sickles into the harvest field. When the people thus pray for the work, they will not be selfish, and seek to have the ministers preaching to them who know the truth, but will say to the minister, “Go and carry the truth so precious to us, to others, and our prayers shall go with you.” This will be a valuable experience to every member of the church. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 15

Let the people of God have root in themselves because they are planted in Jesus Christ. There must be no strife for supremacy. Let every one seek God for himself, and know for himself that the truth of God is the sanctifier of soul, life, and character. Let all feel that it is their duty and privilege to speak those things in the church which will edify. No one should try to sermonize, but with hearts filled with the love of God, let each one have something to say that will not savor in the least of self-exaltation, of questions that will cause dissension; but let each one present lessons from the life of Christ, and represent none of self, but all of Jesus. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 16

To every man is given his work. One man cannot do the work for which another man has been trained and educated. But the work of every man must begin at the heart, in the character, by surrendering the soul to God, and by co-operating with divine agencies. The root must be holy, or there will be no holy fruit. All are to be workers together with God, and self must not appear. The Lord has entrusted talent and capabilities to every individual, and those who are most highly favored with opportunities and privileges, are under the heaviest obligations to God. Those who are represented as having but one talent have their work to do. By diligent trading, not with pounds, but with pence, they are diligently to employ their ability, determined not to fail nor be discouraged. Those who faithfully trade upon their one talent will hear the gracious commendation given them with as full heartiness as those who have been gifted with many talents, and who wisely improve them, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” He who had but one talent, had an influence to exert, and his work was needed. In perfecting his own character, he was exerting an influence that helped to perfect the character of those who had larger responsibilities, who were in danger of building themselves up, and of neglecting some important little things, which that faithful man with his one talent was regarding with diligent care. By his diligence and unwearied, faithful efforts, he gave lessons worthy of imitation to those who, from outward appearance, seemed to be greatly his superiors. Our various trusts are proportioned to our various abilities. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 17

Christ can give his peace to those only who surrender their will and their way to his method and plans. Restless cravings and heart-burnings bring no joy, no happiness, but only sadness and misery to the soul. He who cherishes them, views all things in a distorted light, and thinks that others who do not view matters as he does, do not appreciate his individual importance and worth. We may be complete in Jesus Christ only as we are emptied of self. When our life is hid with Christ in God, self is lost, submerged in the breadth, length, depth, and height of infinite love. Let the burden of every soul be to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. HM December 1, 1894, Art. D, par. 18

Mrs. E. G. White