The Review and Herald

559/1902

December 23, 1890

An Appeal to Our Churches

EGW

The year 1890 is nearly closed. A few more days, and we enter upon a new year. Let each ask himself these questions, and conscientiously answer them: Has the past year been to me a success, or a failure? How stands the record in the books of heaven? Has my spiritual vitality been lowered? Have I had a name to live, while I was dead? RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 1

Hear the words of One who has demonstrated his love to you by dying on the cross of Calvary: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” Have you heeded the divine warning? Have you, through watchfulness, prayer, and the study of the words of Christ, sought daily to maintain a personal connection with your Saviour, so that you might be a fruit-bearing branch? Will you not candidly, critically, review your life during the year 1890, praying for discernment that you may see yourself as the Lord Jesus sees you? Recount the temporal blessings which the Lord has freely given you in food, in clothing, in health; and then with prayerful heart ask him to grant you a retentive memory, that you may not forget the precious spiritual blessings he has so abundantly bestowed. By what means have you been made the recipients of his grace?—Through his amazing love. RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 2

Jesus left his home in glory, clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to a world marred and polluted by the curse of sin. He might have remained in his heavenly home, and received the adoration of angels; but he came to earth to seek and save the lost, the perishing. “For your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” He, the Majesty of heaven, who was one with the Father, denied himself, made every possible sacrifice, in order that man might not perish, but have everlasting life. Christ lived not to please himself. If he had pleased himself, where would we be today? RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 3

What offerings of gratitude have you daily given to God for this great gift, his only begotten Son? Have you felt that you are “not your own,” but that you are “bought with a price,” even the precious blood of the Son of God; and that you must “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's”? How many times have you grieved the Spirit of God by your selfishness, by indulging inclination, by investing for your own selfish advantage the money which he lent you to trade upon? You have called that your own which was only intrusted to your keeping. RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 4

Now is a good time to review the past year, as well as preceding years, which have, one after another, passed into eternity with their burden of record. Now you can review to some purpose and profit, your words, your spirit, your actions. Your name may be on the church-books, but your eternal interest requires that you shall be united to Christ, as the branch is united to the vine. Have you, through temptation, separated yourself from Christ? Should it be said to you, as it was to the foolish rich man, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee,” would you have your treasure laid up in heaven, or have you invested every dollar, every cent, that has come into your hands, in eating and drinking and dressing? Wherein have you denied self? Is this the language of your heart? “I am wholly thine, my Saviour; thou hast paid the ransom for my soul, and all that I am or ever hope to be is thine. Help me to acquire means, not to expend foolishly, not to indulge pride, but to use to thine own name's glory.” In all you do, let your thought be, “Is this the way of the Lord? Will this please my Saviour? He gave his life for me; what can I give back to God? I can only say, ‘Of thine own, O Lord, I freely give thee.’” Unless the name of God is written in your forehead,—written there because God is the center of your thoughts,—you will not be meet for the inheritance in light. It is your Creator who has poured out to you all heaven in one wondrous gift,—his only begotten Son. Will you withhold from God his own? Will you divert from the treasury the portion of means which the Lord claims as his? If so, you are robbing God, and every dollar is charged against you in the books of heaven. RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 5

The Lord God of heaven inquires, “Will a man rob God?” as though such a terrible thing were impossible. “Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” Hear the word of the Lord; he tells you just what to do: “Bring ye all the tithes into the store-house, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call ye blessed; for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.” RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 6

What gracious promises are these! And they are ours, if we will comply with the conditions. In these words the Lord is speaking to his people. RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 7

God lays his hand upon the tithe, as well as upon gifts and offerings, and says, “That is mine. When I intrusted you with my goods, I specified that a portion should be your own, to supply your necessities, and a portion should be returned to me.” As you gathered in your harvest, storing barns and granary for your own comfort, did you return to God a faithful tithe? Have you presented to him your gifts and offerings, that his cause may not suffer? Have you looked after the fatherless and the widow? This is a branch of home missionary work that should by no means be neglected. Are there not around you, poor and suffering ones who need warmer clothing, better food, and, above everything else, that which will be most highly prized,—sympathy and love? What have you done for the widows, the distressed, who call upon you to aid them in educating and training their children or grandchildren? How have you treated these cases? Have you tried to help the orphans? When anxious, soul-burdened parents or grand-parents have asked you, and even begged you, to consider their case, have you turned them away with unfeeling, unsympathetic refusals? If so, may the Lord pity your future; for “with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Can we be surprised that the Lord withholds his blessing, when his gifts are selfishly perverted and misapplied? RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 8

God is constantly bestowing upon you the blessings of this life; and if he asks you to dispense his gifts by helping the various branches of his work, it is for your own temporal and spiritual interest to do so, and thus acknowledge God as the giver of every blessing. God, as the Master-worker, co-operates with men in securing the means necessary for their sustenance; and he requires them to co-operate with him in the salvation of souls. He has placed in the hands of his servants the means wherewith to carry forward his work in home and foreign missions. But if only half the people do their duty, the treasury will not be supplied with the necessary funds, and many parts of the work of God must be left incomplete. RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 9

Many have long neglected to deal honestly with their Maker. Failing to lay aside the tithe weekly, they have let it accumulate, until it amounts to a large sum, and now they are very reluctant to make the matter right. This back tithe they keep, using it as their own. But it is God's property, which they have refused to put into his treasury. RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 10

How the enemy has wrought to place temporal things above spiritual! Many families who have but little to spare for God's cause, will yet spend money freely to purchase rich furniture or fashionable clothing. How much is spent for the table, and often for that which is only a hurtful indulgence; how much for presents that benefit no one! Many spend considerable sums for photographs to give to their friends. Picture-taking is carried to extravagant lengths, and encourages a species of idolatry. How much more pleasing to God it would be if all this means were invested in publications which would direct souls to Christ and the precious truths for this time! The money wasted on needless things would supply many a table with reading-matter on present truth, which would prove a savor of life unto life. RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 11

Satan's suggestions are carried out in many, many things. Our birthday anniversaries, and Christmas and Thanksgiving festivals, are too often devoted to selfish gratification, when the mind should be directed to the mercy and loving-kindness of God. God is displeased that his goodness, his constant care, his unceasing love, are not brought to mind on these anniversary occasions. RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 12

If all the money that is used extravagantly, for needless things, were placed in the treasury of God, we should see men and women and youth giving themselves to Jesus, and doing their part to co-operate with Christ and angels. The richest blessing of God would come into our churches, and many souls would be converted to the truth. RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 13

Men have felt that they could do as they pleased; they say they cannot see the requirement of God on this subject, and in so doing they evince that they are not branches of the True Vine. If they have not yet withered away, they will surely do so; for they are robbing God. Unless they repent and do their first works, their light will go out in darkness. RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 14

If you have been withholding your tithes and offerings, it is because you have left your first love; you have set up idols in your heart. There is not the slightest hope for a branch that remains thus separated from the Vine. None need flatter themselves that they will be restored to vital union with Christ in the future world. Now, in this world, the union must be effected, if it is ever formed. The time to repent is not when Christ shall come, but now, in this life. How many there are who die practicing dishonesty toward God, robbing him in tithes and offerings! RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 15

Brethren and sisters,—you who in the day of God would meet your record with joy and not with grief,—I plead with you to make faithful work ere this year of 1890 shall close. Examine your business transactions, from the least to the greatest, and see if you have been robbing God. If so, repent, and restore to him his own before the year shall close. Begin the new year with honest work between you and your Maker. Lift cheerfully your God-given responsibilities. “Bring ye all the tithes into the store-house, ... and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 16

May the Lord imbue our churches with his Holy Spirit! May he work for his people, and may every member of the church work with him for the upbuilding of his kingdom! RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 17