The Signs of the Times


December 15, 1909

A Lesson in Economy


The Lord would have His people exercise carefulness in the use of all His gifts. It is the duty of all who are seeking to advance the kingdom of Christ in the earth, to be saving and economical. We are to save that we may give. “It is more blessed to give,” the Saviour said, “than to receive.” ST December 15, 1909, par. 1

The Saviour taught a precious lesson in economy when, after performing the wonderful miracle by which He fed the multitude with five loaves and a few small fishes, He commanded that all that was left over from the feast should be carefully gathered up. He would show that the bounties of Providence are not given to be squandered, or to be used in an aimless or wasteful manner. ST December 15, 1909, par. 2

Christ's care of the fragments is a striking evidence of His divinity. It was as essential for Him to bid the disciples gather up the fragments, as it was for Him to create the food to feed the multitude. He must point the people to God's standard of economy in the saving of food as well as of money. There was use for it all. ST December 15, 1909, par. 3

The lesson was twofold. In spiritual as in temporal things, nothing is to be wasted. We are to let slip no temporal opportunity, no spiritual advantage; we are to waste nothing that will tend to benefit a human being or that will help to relieve the necessities of earth's hungry ones. ST December 15, 1909, par. 4

When the baskets of fragments were collected, the people thought of their friends at home. They wanted them to share in the bread that Christ had blessed. The contents of the baskets were distributed among the eager throng, and were carried away into all the region round about. So those who were at the feast were to give to others the bread that comes down from heaven, to satisfy the hunger of the soul. They were to repeat what they had learned of the wonderful things of God. Nothing was to be lost. ST December 15, 1909, par. 5

The lesson should be carefully studied. The Lord values every gift that He bestows upon man, and His command on this occasion demonstrated to the whole multitude the value He places on His blessings. We are dependent upon God for life, for means, for health, for food, for the very air we breathe. Christ's own example of industry and frugality teaches us to use with care the gifts we receive at His hand. ST December 15, 1909, par. 6

Often those who are favored with wealth act as if they had a right to use with prodigality the gifts that God entrusts to them to be used wisely. They walk and talk as if riches entitled them to high honor. Sometimes the poor are favored by them, but more often the moneyed men waste their Lord's goods in selfish indulgence. They forget that all their treasures are entrusted gifts, and that they must render to God a strict account of the use they have made of His property. ST December 15, 1909, par. 7

Willingly and cheerfully the true Christian will bind about his inclinations to expend his means; and when he sees his fellow laborers in other portions of the field distressed and perplexed for lack of proper facilities, he will willingly impart to them a portion of what the Lord has entrusted to him. As he shows by his unselfishness that he loves his neighbor as himself, the Lord says of him in the councils of heaven: “He is My faithful steward. I can trust him to handle My goods. He keeps My fear before him. His works of righteousness will be a continual stream flowing to the desert portions of My vineyard. He will not claim what he has as his own, to use as the human agent shall please; but will heed My counsel, and do with My goods as I shall choose.” ST December 15, 1909, par. 8

My brethren and sisters, shall we not deny ourselves, in order that we may help to send the present truth to needy fields? We have very little time now in which to work. Let us deny ourselves for the building up of the cause of God. The money we invest in this work will be returned to us with large interest. Let us take hold in faith. Let us pray and believe. Let us act, and the Lord will encourage and strengthen us in the way. The Lord expects His human agencies to do their best. The fragments are to be gathered up. All needless expenditures for selfish gratification are to be cut off. Let self-denial and the cross become a part of our individual experience. ST December 15, 1909, par. 9

Many despise economy, confounding it with stinginess and narrowness. But economy is consistent with the broadest liberality. Indeed, without economy there can be no true liberality. We are to save that we may give. ST December 15, 1909, par. 10

None can practise real benevolence without self-denial. Only by a life of simplicity, self-denial, and close economy, is it possible for us to accomplish the work appointed us as Christ's representatives. Pride and worldly ambition must be put out of our hearts. In all our work the principle of unselfishness revealed in Christ's life is to be carried out. Upon the walls of our homes, upon the furnishings, we are to read the command, “Bring the poor that are cast out to thy house.” On our wardrobes we are to see written, as with the finger of God, “Clothe the naked.” In the dining-room, on the table laden with food, we are to see traced, “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry?” ST December 15, 1909, par. 11

A thousand doors of usefulness are open before us. Often we lament the scanty resources available; but were Christians thoroughly in earnest, they could multiply the resources a thousandfold. It is selfishness, self-indulgence, that bars the way to our usefulness. ST December 15, 1909, par. 12

How much means is expended for things that are mere idols, things that engross time and thought and strength, that should be put to a higher use. How much money is wasted on expensive houses and furniture, on selfish pleasures, luxuries, and unwholesome food. How much is squandered on gifts that benefit no one. For things that are needless, often harmful, professed Christians today are spending more, many times more, than they spend in seeking to rescue souls from the tempter. ST December 15, 1909, par. 13

Christ bids us, “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” While thousands are every day perishing from famine, bloodshed, fire, and plague, it becomes every lover of his kind to see that nothing is wasted, that nothing is needlessly expended, whereby he might benefit a human being. ST December 15, 1909, par. 14

It is wrong to waste our time, wrong to waste our thoughts. We lose every moment that we devote to self-seeking. If every moment were valued and rightly employed, we should have time for everything that we need to do for ourselves and for the world. In the expenditure of money, in the use of time, strength, opportunities, let every Christian look to God for guidance. And “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” ST December 15, 1909, par. 15