The Signs of the Times


February 17, 1887

Doing for Christ


“Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was a hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee a hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” ST February 17, 1887, par. 1

These are words which Christ addresses to his redeemed people. He invites them to become patient toilers in a field which calls for self-denying labor; but it is a glorious work, and one that Heaven smiles upon. Faithful work is more acceptable to God than the most zealous formal worship. True worship consists in working together with Christ. Prayers, exhortations, and talk are cheap fruits, which are frequently tied on; but fruits that are manifested in good works, in caring for the needy, the fatherless, and widows, are genuine, and grow naturally upon a good tree. ST February 17, 1887, par. 2

Pure religion and undefiled before the Father consists in visiting the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and in keeping unspotted from the world. We should cultivate the doing principle. When one's heart sympathizes with others burdened with discouragement and grief; when his hand clothes the naked, and the stranger is made welcome to a seat at his fireside and at his board, then angels come very near with notes of joy and praise on their lips, and an answering strain responds in Heaven. Every deed of justice and mercy and benevolence makes music there. The Father from his throne beholds, and numbers the unselfish laborers among his most precious treasures. “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.” Every merciful act to the needy or the suffering is as though done to Christ. Whoever succors the poor, or sympathizes with the afflicted and oppressed, or befriends the orphan, thereby brings himself into a closer relationship with the pitying Saviour. ST February 17, 1887, par. 3

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was a hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee a hungered, or a thirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.” ST February 17, 1887, par. 4

Jesus identifies himself with his suffering people. I was hungry and thirsty; I was a stranger; I was naked; I was sick; I was in prison. While you were enjoying the food from your bountifully spread tables, I was famishing with hunger in the hovel or street not far from you. When you closed your doors against me while your well-furnished rooms were unoccupied, I had not where to lay my head. While your wardrobes were filled with an abundant supply of changeable suits of apparel, upon which means had been needlessly squandered,—means which you might have given to the needy, I was destitute of comfortable raiment. When you were enjoying health, I was sick. Misfortune cast me into prison and bound me with fetters, bowing down my spirit, depriving me of freedom and hope, while you roamed at liberty. What a oneness Jesus here represents as existing between himself and his suffering disciples. He makes their case his own. He represents himself as being, in their person, the very sufferer. Mark this, selfish Christian; every neglect on your part to care for the needy and to sympathize with those in distress, is a neglect to Jesus in their person. ST February 17, 1887, par. 5

Some who make high professions are so encased in selfishness that they cannot appreciate the generous principles of the Christian religion. All their lives they have lived only for self. To make a worthy sacrifice to do others good, to disadvantage themselves for the purpose of benefiting others, is out of the question with them. They have not the least idea that God requires this at their hand. Precious weeks, months, and years pass into eternity; but no record is made in Heaven of kindly acts of self-sacrifice, of feeding the hungry, of clothing the naked, or taking in the stranger. Entertaining strangers at a venture is not agreeable; if they knew that all who shared their bounty were worthy, then they might be induced to do something in that direction. But there is virtue in venturing something. ST February 17, 1887, par. 6

When the King shall make investigation, the do-nothing, illiberal, selfish souls will learn that Heaven is for those who have been workers,—those who have denied themselves for Christ's sake. No provision has been made for those who have taken such special care in looking out for themselves. The terrible punishment threatened to those on the King's left hand is not, in this case, the penalty of some great crime. They are not condemned for the things which they did do, but for that which they did not do. They did not do those duties which Heaven assigned to them. They pleased themselves, and they must take their portion with self-pleasers. ST February 17, 1887, par. 7

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares,” says the apostle. Has this injunction no force in the present age? Our heavenly Father lays in our pathway blessings in disguise; but some will not take these blessings for fear they will detract from their selfish enjoyment. ST February 17, 1887, par. 8

The widow of Sarepta shared her morsel with Elijah, and in return for making a home for the prophet of God, she was herself sustained, and her life and that of her son was preserved. Thus would it be with others, if, for the glory of God, they would cheerfully take a similar course. But many plead poor health. They have so long shut themselves up to themselves, and thought of their own poor feelings and sufferings, that they cannot think of others, however much they may be in need of sympathy and assistance. ST February 17, 1887, par. 9

You who are suffering from poor health, there is help for you. Doing good is an excellent remedy for disease. If you clothe the naked, and bring the poor that are cast out to your house, and deal your bread to the hungry, then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily. You are invited to bring your prayers to God, and he has pledged himself to answer them. Your soul shall be satisfied in drought, and shall be like a watered garden, whose waters fail not. ST February 17, 1887, par. 10

If you engage in works of mercy and love, will it prove too hard for you? Will you fail, and be crushed under the burden, and your family be deprived of your assistance and influence?—Oh, no, God has carefully removed all doubts on this question by a pledge to you on condition of obedience. This promise covers all that the most exacting, the most hesitating could demand: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily.” Only believe that He is faithful who has promised. God can renew the physical health; and more, he says he will do it. And the promise does not end here: “Thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.” God will build a fortification around you. ST February 17, 1887, par. 11

“Be not weary in well-doing; for in due time ye shall reap if ye faint not.” Do not wait to be told your duty. Open your eyes and see what is to be done; make yourselves acquainted with the wants of the needy. Hide not yourselves from them; close not your eyes to their needs. ST February 17, 1887, par. 12

The harvest is coming,—the great reaping time, when you shall reap what you have sown. There will be no failure in the crop. The harvest is sure. Now is the sowing time. Now make efforts to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that ye may lay hold on eternal life. ST February 17, 1887, par. 13

Some will excuse themselves on the plea that they have bestowed their charity on unworthy persons, and have become discouraged. To such I present the example of Jesus. He came to save fallen man. He came to bring salvation to his own nation; but they would not accept him. They treated his mercy with insult and contempt, and at length put to death him who came to give them life. But did our Lord turn from the fallen race because of this? Nay, verily; and he is our pattern. Though for ninety-nine times your efforts to do good are unsuccessful, and you receive only insult, reproach, and hate, yet if the hundredth time proves a success, and one soul is saved, oh, what a victory is achieved! This will a thousand times pay you for all your efforts. And to you Jesus will say, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” ST February 17, 1887, par. 14

The reason that God's people are not more spiritually-minded, and that they have not more faith, is because they are narrowed by selfishness. It is not the abundance of your meetings that God accepts. It is not the numerous prayers, but it is right-doing—doing the right thing and at the right time. We must be less self-caring, and more benevolent. Our souls must expand. Then God will make them like a watered garden, whose waters fail not. ST February 17, 1887, par. 15