The Signs of the Times


July 30, 1894

Accountability of the Rich


There is a work that must be done for the wealthy, to arouse them to a realization of their relationship to men and their accountability to God. They must be awakened to the fact that they are to give an account to Him who shall judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom. Those who are rich are put under responsibility to labor for others in the love and fear of God. But many of the rich trust in their riches, and do not realize the danger in which they are placed. God has something to give them of vastly more value than gold or silver or precious jewels. The soul needs to be attracted by the things that are of enduring value. They need to understand the value of true goodness. Jesus says unto them, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He asks them to exchange the yoke of their own manufacturing for his yoke, which is easy, and for his burden, which is light. He says, “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” He is calling: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” “Him that cometh unto me I will in nowise cast out.” ST July 30, 1894, par. 1

Those who will listen to the voice of Christ, will recognize the voice of superior goodness, the voice of the True Shepherd. Oh, that the wealthy might feel their responsibility to be faithful stewards of the means which God has intrusted to their care! Oh, that they might understand that they must be agents for God, if they would meet his approval! Oh, that they might know that they were standing upon holy ground, and might be distinguished workers, engaging with Christ in the grand work of elevating those whom Christ died to save! ST July 30, 1894, par. 2

The Lord has intrusted to human beings capabilities of talent and influence; he has intrusted to men an abundance of money, not to be lavishly spent in selfish ways, for the gratification of unholy desires, but for the performance of their part in the great work of redemption. He has intrusted riches to the wealthy in order that they may bless humanity, by relieving the wants of the suffering and needy. This is the work that has been committed to them, and in doing this work they are not to feel that they have done some wonderful thing. Many endow some large institution, or give large sums to the church, and fail to relieve the distress of the suffering poor right about their doors. But the rich are to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help those who are in trying circumstances, those who are wrestling with all their power to keep themselves and their families from the pauper's home. ST July 30, 1894, par. 3

God does not mean that the misery which we see about us in the poverty of the masses, shall exist. He does not intend that one shall have all the luxuries of life, and that others shall cry for bread. All the means intrusted to men over and above what is required to supply their own necessities, is intrusted to them for the blessing of humanity. If those whom God has made stewards, love God, they will love those who are formed in his image. Stewards of this character will not give with a patronizing air, as though they had done something for which they should be praised and honored; but they will realize that they are but trading on their Lord's goods, and that in the judgment they will have to give an account of the way in which they have employed their Lord's capital. They will understand that they are laborers together with God. ST July 30, 1894, par. 4

Jesus, the world's Redeemer, laid off his royal crown, laid aside his kingly robe, clothed his divinity with humanity, and left his high command. He was adored and worshiped by the angelic hosts, and yet for our sake he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich. He came to give us, not the perishable treasure of houses and land and gold, but that which is enduring and imperishable, even eternal riches. Will men then refuse to be laborers together with God? Will they refuse to take their part in the work of redeeming lost humanity? In every large city there are men, women, and children who do not receive as much consideration as do the beasts. In England I saw poor children who were clad in dirty rags, who were half starved, whose countenances were stamped with vice and degradation. People live in damp, dark cellars reeking with filth, and children are born and brought up in these vile holes of misery. From earliest infancy through life, they see nothing but that which is unlovely, degraded, and vile. There is no view of nature's loveliness to attract the eye, and they hear the name of God only in oaths of horrible profanity. In places of this kind children are left to come up as they may. They are moulded and fashioned by the low precepts and wretched examples of those around them. Disagreeable surroundings greet their sight, impure words fall upon their ears, and the fumes of liquor and tobacco fill their atmosphere. Brought up in immoral degradation, it is no wonder that they turn out to be thieves, beggars, and murderers. ST July 30, 1894, par. 5

They subsist upon insufficient food, of a character unfit for the human stomach, and from these abodes of misery, piteous cries are sent up to heaven by those who know not how to pray. At the same time that this dreadful wretchedness is in existence, those to whom God has intrusted means are adding farm to farm, building house to house, and mansion to mansion, and even providing palaces for their dogs, and hiring servants to care for them. Dogs are fed and cared for in a luxurious way, while human beings are left in destitution, misery, crime, disease, and death. ST July 30, 1894, par. 6

Is it a wonder that our Lord exclaims, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God”? Jesus, the Majesty of heaven, became poor for our sake. He penetrated into the very inner circles of life. He sought to call the attention of men to the fact that, while they were devoting themselves to their busy activities, they were neglecting their eternal interests. He sought to impress upon them the fact that God had given them endowments of talent, means, and influence to be improved and increased, that they might grow in efficiency, and be better able to be laborers together with God. ST July 30, 1894, par. 7

God has made human beings his almoners and agents, to distribute the benefits of his providence. They are to use wisely his intrusted talent of means, as well as the endowment of his grace in other directions. Men are required to engage with heavenly intelligences in restoring, reshaping the human character. The rich are to help the poor. It is not according to God's plan that the rich should give to the rich. It is the oppressed, the downtrodden, the discouraged, the hungry, the naked, the suffering poor, whom Jesus says “ye have always with you.” We need to take closer views of eternity, and by doing this we shall not be unfitted for our work in this world; we shall not be disqualified for taking a Christlike part in the affairs of society. ST July 30, 1894, par. 8

The gospel of Christ is not only to be believed, but it is to be acted upon. We are to be doers of the word; and in doing or not doing according to the instruction of Christ, we are deciding our eternal destiny for life or death. God does not desire fitful service, emotional spasms of religion. We are to act from principle, to have a firm, abiding trust in Christ. If Christ is formed within, the hope of glory, it will be made manifest in the development of our character and actions; for there will appear the likeness of Christ in our life. We shall represent the Father and the Son to the world. The command is given, “Work while it is day; for the night cometh, in which no man can work.” ST July 30, 1894, par. 9

Jesus calmly asks, “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” If we employ these hours realizing our accountability to God, acting as serious, candid agents for God, keeping eternity in view, we shall live in such a way as to secure the eternal inheritance, and by our precept and example shall bring souls to Christ. But we have no time to devote to the indulgence of self in sin, no time for selfish pleasure seeking. Time is golden. We have characters to form for eternal life, and angels of God are watching what progress we are making. Angels are weighing moral worth. Oh, that we all might realize the value of time! A ruler exclaimed, when the physician told him that he could live but a few minutes, “A kingdom for an hour's time.” He had been granted year after year. He had had twelve hours of the day. Was not the time granted him that he might secure his eternal interests? Now is the appointed time, now is the day of salvation. Oh, may none put off the day of repentance and reformation! Now is the accepted time. ST July 30, 1894, par. 10

Jesus Christ has engaged to save every soul who will believe in him as a personal Saviour. He has engaged us in his service, and has pointed out to us the work that he expects us to do. He has given us a glimpse of eternity, in order that we may realize that temporal things are of little moment beside that which is eternal. Something higher than the affairs of this life is to engage our attention, and call forth the energies of our being, that we may glorify our Redeemer. Christ calls upon us as human agents to cooperate with heavenly agencies in the work of saving the world. Not one is to feel that he can use his time as he chooses. Heavenly requirements are not to be ignored. It is the universal tendency of men to subordinate the eternal realities to temporal matters, to make the claims of the future, immortal life subservient to the commonplace affairs of this fleeting life. But the Lord has said: “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” The god of this world claims the service of men, and seeks to keep them in continual slavery to his will. But Christ, the uplifted Saviour, calls to men in authoritative tones, saying, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things [of secondary importance] shall be added unto you.” ST July 30, 1894, par. 11