The Signs of the Times


January 14, 1886

The Missionary

A Warning


“The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” ST January 14, 1886, par. 1

The foolish rich man loved and served himself. If he had loved God supremely, he would not have accumulated so great treasures that there would be lack of room to bestow them. Had he used his goods to supply the necessities of the poor, there would have been no need of tearing down his barns, and building greater. By employing his wealth as a bounty lent him of God with which to do good, he would have become rich in good works, would have laid up treasure in Heaven. But he disregarded the principles of the divine law. He did not love God supremely, nor his neighbor as himself. ST January 14, 1886, par. 2

While enjoying the gifts of Heaven, he failed to acknowledge whence all his possessions came. These earthly benefits he allowed to take his mind and absorb his affections so that the Giver was forgotten. He claimed as his own that which God had lent him. No grateful thanks ascended to his gracious Benefactor. The Master who had intrusted to him earthly riches with which to bless his fellow-men and glorify his Maker, was justly angry at his ingratitude. ST January 14, 1886, par. 3

This parable illustrates the sin and danger of a self-serving life. Poor are the devotees of mammon. They have embezzled the Lord's goods, placed their own name where God's name should be written, and robbed the soul of his love and favor. “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” There are a greater number following the example of the foolish rich man than we imagine. The worship due to God is given to money. That which can satisfy the earthly, sensual faculties is sought as the highest good. Many show that they will not trust God's promises, but are trusting to property for happiness. They may call themselves rich, but God calls them poor. Men who claim to acknowledge God, forget him and disown him. They turn from the heavenly treasure for worldly pleasures and enjoyments, until the patience of God is exhausted, and he says, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee.” “Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches.” ST January 14, 1886, par. 4

These warnings are for us, and it is for our interest to heed them. They should be repeated as earnestly, and set home as pointedly, as is the gospel of salvation through Christ. But though so plainly given by our Lord himself, but few dwell upon these lessons, because they would disturb the complacency of the rich man who lives for selfish enjoyment. Ministers have but little to do with these sharp warnings. God's professed people are not told of their danger. They follow the example of the foolish rich man, and flatter themselves they have all that the soul requires. ST January 14, 1886, par. 5

Listen to the words of your Redeemer: “‘If riches increase, set not your heart upon them.’ Riches are mine. I have placed them in your hands to be wisely employed in my service, to aid the suffering, to invest in opening the gospel to those who are in darkness. Riches must not be your trust, your god, or your saviour.” ST January 14, 1886, par. 6

The channels for doing good are many, and they stand wide open. Your barns are large, too large already. If they overflow, instead of building larger, send your treasure before you into Heaven. There are widows to feed, orphans to be taken under the guardianship of your home, and share your ample stores; there are souls perishing for the bread of life; missions are to be supported, meeting-houses to be built. If God's cause demands a part, not only of your interest, but of your principal, you are to give back to him his own. He calls upon you to sow now, that you may reap your harvest with eternal joy. ST January 14, 1886, par. 7

God's gifts increase as they are imparted. We see this illustrated in the case of the poor widow whom the prophet Elisha, by a miracle, relieved from debt. She had only one jar of oil; but the prophet told her to borrow vessels of her neighbors, and the oil poured from that one jar continued to flow till all the vessels were filled. The supply ceased only when no more vessels were brought to receive it. So it will be now. So long as we let the gifts of God flow into channels of good, the Lord will supply the flow. ST January 14, 1886, par. 8

Christ says to his sons and daughters, “Ye are the light of the world.” But who gave you light? You did not have it in you naturally. God is the source of light; the truth has shone into our hearts, to be reflected to others. True love to God will produce love to man. This is what we need,—love that is patient, self-sacrificing, persevering, intelligent, practical. ST January 14, 1886, par. 9

The Lord has given you means, that in putting it to a right use you may develop good and noble traits of character. When you follow the purpose of your own selfish hearts, you are not only keeping your means from the cause of God, but depriving yourselves of the opportunity to cultivate noble, unselfish principles; and thus your own character suffers loss. ST January 14, 1886, par. 10

The day of trial is before us; shall we stand acquitted or condemned? You who believe that the Lord is soon to come, will show your faith by your works. The Judgment is to sit, the books are to be opened, and every man will receive as his works have been. We are now trees in the Lord's garden, and he says, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” If our faith has not led us to deny self, to make any and every sacrifice to save the souls of our fellowmen, it will not save us. ST January 14, 1886, par. 11

Every excuse which men offer for neglecting to obey God's requirements in regard to the use of their property, is an evidence of rebellion against him. The plea of the unprofitable servant is man's plea today, that the Lord has no right to require his servants to employ their time and ability in making money for him. But God requires of none of us that which it is not for our best interest to do. Many would be loth to put into words the reason they secretly cherish to vindicate themselves and silence their own conscience; but they are no less bringing upon themselves the denunciation pronounced upon the unprofitable servant. “Take the talent from him,” will be heard by many unwilling ears. ST January 14, 1886, par. 12

What wrong have I done? may be asked. The answer comes, You tied up your Lord's money in large barns, in which to bestow your goods. You bound up his means in a fine house, in expensive carpets, furniture, and goodly things, while souls were left to perish in their sins. You buried your talents because you did not love God and his cause half so well as you loved yourself. God and man lost all the profits your means would have brought if rightly employed. Today the Lord is disappointed in you. He looked for a precious offering of gratitude, but no returns are made for his wondrous love and his great sacrifice for you. Do you inquire, Of what have I to repent?—Of a godless, self-loving, self-pleasing life. You have not reflected the light of a godly example. You said plainly, I claim my portion as my own. ST January 14, 1886, par. 13

I hope to see our brethren and sisters improving the little remaining moment of probationary time. Brethren, be not deceived; God is not mocked. The excuses you have prepared for the Judgment will not stand the test. Let us see active, energetic workers, who are looking for their Lord's return, and who are ready to present the talents they have traded upon, saying, Here, Lord, thy five talents have gained other five talents; thy two talents have gained other two. Where are the God-fearing workers? Let them come to the front. The Lord is coming. You have no time to lose. You are not to do as did the inhabitants of the antediluvian world,—plant and build, eat and drink, marry and give in marriage, the same as the careless worldling. Let the books of Heaven present a different record from that which now appears. Make haste to redeem the time; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not. ST January 14, 1886, par. 14

E. G. White.