The Signs of the Times


March 18, 1886

The Bible System of Tithes and Offerings


“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” Proverbs 11:24, 25. ST March 18, 1886, par. 1

Giving is a part of gospel religion. The foundation of the plan of salvation was laid in sacrifice. Jesus left the royal courts of Heaven, and became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. His life on earth was unselfish, marked with humiliation and sacrifice. And is the servant greater than his Lord? Shall men, partakers of the great salvation which he wrought out for them, refuse to follow their Lord, and to share in his self-denial? When the world's Redeemer has suffered so much for us, shall we, the members of his body, live in thoughtless self-indulgence? No; self-denial is an essential condition of discipleship. ST March 18, 1886, par. 2

“I am the vine,” says Christ; “ye are the branches.” What a close union is this! The very vital principle, the sap, which flows through the vine, nourishes the branches, that they may flourish and bear fruit. The spirit of the Master will actuate his followers. Again Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” He leads the way in the path of self-denial, and requires nothing of his followers but that of which he has given them an example in his life. ST March 18, 1886, par. 3

Christ, as our head, led out in the great work of salvation; but he has intrusted that work to his followers upon earth. It cannot be carried on without means, and he has given his people a plan for raising means sufficient to make his cause prosperous. The tithing system, instituted for this purpose, reaches back to the time of Moses. Even as far back as the days of Adam, long before the definite system was given, men were required to offer to God gifts for religious purposes. They were thus to manifest their appreciation of the mercies and blessings they received. ST March 18, 1886, par. 4

These offerings were continued through successive generations. The principle was not unknown in the days of Job. Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. Jacob, when at Bethel, an exile and a penniless wanderer, promised the Lord, “Of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” ST March 18, 1886, par. 5

God does not compel men to give to his cause. Their action must be voluntary. He will not have his treasury replenished with unwilling offerings. His design in the plan of systematic giving was to bring man into close relationship with his Creator and in sympathy and love with his fellow-men, thus placing upon him responsibilities that would counteract selfishness and strengthen disinterested, generous impulses. Man is inclined to be selfish, and to close his heart to generous deeds. The Lord, by requiring gifts to be made at stated times, designed that giving should become a habit, and be looked upon as a Christian duty. The heart, opened by one gift, was not to have time to close and become selfishly cold, before another offering was bestowed. ST March 18, 1886, par. 6

As to the amount required, God has specified one-tenth of the increase as his due; but other offerings should be made, and while the directions are definite enough for all to understand their duty, there is room for the judgment and the conscience to have free play. Says the apostle: “Let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” The tithing system is beautiful in its equality and simplicity. It gives all an opportunity to help carry forward the precious work of salvation. Every man, woman, and child may become a treasurer for the Lord. ST March 18, 1886, par. 7

Great objects may be accomplished by this system. If all accept it, there will be no want of means to carry forward the work of God in the earth. The treasury will be full, and the contributions will not be left to the poorer members of the church. Every investment made will draw out the heart to love the cause of God more and more; and the liberal, who are willing to sacrifice for the spread of the truth and the salvation of souls, will be “laying up in store for themselves, a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” ST March 18, 1886, par. 8

The Christian church, as a general thing, disregard the claims of God upon them to give of the things which they possess to support the warfare against the moral darkness which is flooding the world. Every church member should be an earnest worker, a liberal, systematic giver. But some rich men feel like murmuring because there are demands for money. They say that one object after another is continually arising, and there is no end to the calls for means. They do not remember that they will have a debt to settle with the Master by and by. ST March 18, 1886, par. 9

Says the apostle, “Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price;” not with “corruptible things, as silver and gold,” but with the “precious blood of Christ.” In return he asks us to use his intrusted gifts to aid in the salvation of souls. He has given his blood; he asks our talents of means and of influence. It is through his poverty that we have eternal riches; and will we refuse to return to him the silver and the gold which are his own gifts? If men prefer to set aside the claims of God, and to hoard the means which he gives them, he will hold his peace at present. Frequently he will continue to test them by increasing his bounties, letting his blessings flow on; these men may pass on receiving honor of men, and without censure in the church, but soon it will be said to them, “Give an account of thy stewardship.” ST March 18, 1886, par. 10

God is not dependent upon man. He says: “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine.” “Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.” It is for our own good that he has planned to have us bear some part in the advancement of his cause. He has honored us by making us co-workers with himself. He has ordained that there should be a necessity for the co-operation of men, that they may cultivate and keep in exercise their benevolent affections. ST March 18, 1886, par. 11

In the wise providence of God, the poor are always with us, that while we witness the various forms of suffering and necessity in the world, we may be tested, and may develop Christian character. God has placed them among us to call out Christian sympathy and love. They are here as Christ's representatives. He identifies himself with suffering humanity. He makes their necessities his own, and takes to his bosom the woes of the children of men. “Inasmuch,” he says, as ye ministered not to “one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” ST March 18, 1886, par. 12

The moral darkness of a ruined world also appeals to Christian men and women to put forth individual effort. They are required by the Scriptures to keep in constant exercise an interest in the salvation of their fellow-men. The condition of eternal life, as expressed by Christ himself, is supreme love to God and equal love to our neighbor. ST March 18, 1886, par. 13

The first disciples expressed their gratitude for the benefits of the Christian age in works of charity and benevolence. The outpouring of the Spirit of God, after Christ left his disciples and ascended to Heaven, led to self-denial and self-sacrifice for the salvation of others. When the poor saints at Jerusalem were in need, Paul, appealing to the Gentile Christians in their behalf, urged them to prove the sincerity of their love by their liberality. “Therefore,” he says, “as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.” Here benevolence is placed by the side of faith, love, and Christian diligence. ST March 18, 1886, par. 14

The gospel, as it extends and widens, requires greater provisions to sustain it than were called for anciently, and this makes the law of tithes and offerings a more urgent necessity now than under the Hebrew economy. The cause of God requires, not less, but greater gifts than at any other period of the world's history. The principle laid down by Christ is, that the offerings should be in proportion to the light and blessings enjoyed. “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.” But those who give in accordance with this rule will reap a proportionate blessing. “The liberal soul shall be made fat.” “The liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.” ST March 18, 1886, par. 15