The Review and Herald

669/1902

May 9, 1893

Liberality the Fruit of Love

EGW

“There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. He saw in a vision, evidently about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” RH May 9, 1893, par. 1

It is a wonderful favor for any man in this life to be commended of God as was Cornelius. And what was the ground of this approval?—“Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” RH May 9, 1893, par. 2

Neither prayer nor alms-giving has any virtue in itself to recommend the sinner to God; the grace of Christ, through his atoning sacrifice, can alone renew the heart, and make our service acceptable to God. This grace had moved upon the heart of Cornelius. The Spirit of Christ had spoken to his soul; Jesus had drawn him, and he had yielded to the drawing. His prayer and alms were not urged or extorted from him; they were not a price he was seeking to pay in order to secure heaven; but they were the fruit of love and gratitude to God. RH May 9, 1893, par. 3

Such prayer from a sincere heart ascends as incense before the Lord; and offerings to his cause, and gifts to the needy and suffering, are a sacrifice well pleasing to him. Thus the gifts of the Philippian brethren, who ministered to the needs of the apostle Paul, while a prisoner at Rome, are said to be “an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.” RH May 9, 1893, par. 4

Prayer and alms-giving are closely linked together,—the expression of love to God and to our fellow-men. They are the out-working of the two great principles of the divine law, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength;” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Thus while our gifts cannot recommend us to God, or earn his favor, they are an evidence that we have received the grace of Christ. They are a test of the sincerity of our profession of love. RH May 9, 1893, par. 5

A beautiful illustration of that spirit of love and self-sacrifice which the grace of Christ implants in the heart, is given in the experience of the Macedonian Christians. The apostle Paul writes of them: “In a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their ownselves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” And wherever the Spirit of Christ abides, the same fruits will be manifested. RH May 9, 1893, par. 6

The Lord has made the proclamation of the gospel dependent on the consecrated ability and the voluntary gifts and offerings of his people. While he has called men to preach the word, he has made it the privilege of the whole church to share in the work by contributing of their means to its support. And he has bidden them also to care for the poor, as representatives of himself. A tithe of all our income the Lord claims as his own, to be devoted solely to the support of those who give themselves to the preaching of the gospel. And besides this he asks of us gifts and offerings for his cause, and also to supply the needs of the poor. God might have carried forward his work in the world, and have provided for the poor, without the co-operation of man. He asks for our service and our gifts, not only that we may thus manifest our love for him and our fellow-men, but because the service and sacrifice for the good of others will strengthen the spirit of beneficence in the giver's heart, allying us more closely to Him who was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich. And it is only as we thus imitate the Saviour's example that our characters will be developed in his likeness. RH May 9, 1893, par. 7

Those who flatter themselves that they can be Christians, and yet not be sharers of Christ's labor and sacrifice, are under a deception that if not broken, will prove fatal to the soul. The Lord has given many warnings to arouse them to see their danger. The words of the prophet Malachi concerning the matter of giving, have a special reference to our own time: “The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers’ soap.” The coming of Christ which is here referred to is not his second advent to this earth, but his coming to the investigative judgment in the most holy place of the sanctuary in heaven. Thus the message is especially to us, who are living in the time of the judgment. RH May 9, 1893, par. 8

“And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” An offering in righteousness is an offering of means that has been acquired justly. It is an offering from one who has exercised mercy and thoughtfulness, and in no case has wronged his neighbor. It is such a gift, prompted by love, that is fragrant before God. “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” RH May 9, 1893, par. 9

“And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.” There are those who have obtained means by dishonest practices or by oppression of the poor, and then to ease their conscience they bring an offering to God. In so doing they dishonor the Lord. He cannot accept their gifts. The prophet Micah declares: “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” “Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable? Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?” Money acquired by doing wrong to your neighbor, whether believer or unbeliever, is registered in the books of heaven as unlawful gain. And those who think to make a compromise with God by bringing this means to his treasury are deceiving their own souls. RH May 9, 1893, par. 10

“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton: ye have nourished your hearts, as in the day of slaughter.” RH May 9, 1893, par. 11

The prophet Malachi continues: “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? 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. Bring ye all [the full amount required by God. Let there be no withholding part of the price because the selfish heart desires to do this, and will even take from the Lord that which he claims as his own.] the tithes into the store-house, that there may be meat in mine house.” RH May 9, 1893, par. 12

God has made men his stewards, and from all to whom he has intrusted his gifts he asks for a return. As he has blessed us, he asks of us a gift to bless others. The revenue thus brought into his treasury, to supply the needs of his cause, he calls “meat in mine house.” RH May 9, 1893, par. 13

The Lord is ever bestowing his blessings and mercies upon men. Should he withdraw these gifts, we should perish. Every moment he has his human family in view. “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” He gives us “fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” It is God who gives men power to get wealth. The quick, sharp thought, the ability to plan and execute, are from him. It is he who blesses us with health, and opens ways for us to acquire means, by diligent use of our powers. And he says to us, “A portion of the money I have enabled you to gain is mine. Put it into the treasury in tithes, in gifts and offerings, that there may be meat in mine house,—that there may be something to sustain those who carry the gospel of my grace to the world. Money must be provided by my stewards to advance the different branches of my work, to build up my kingdom.” RH May 9, 1893, par. 14

The Saviour's commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” has descended to us in this generation. The last call of mercy is to be given to a perishing world. The message of truth must be carried to all lands. As missionaries raise the standard in new fields, there must be funds to supply facilities, to establish the work as the growing wants of the cause demand. RH May 9, 1893, par. 15

This matter of giving is not left to impulse. God has given us definite instruction in regard to it. He has specified tithes and offerings as the measure of our obligation. And he desires us to give regularly and systematically. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “Concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” Let each regularly examine his income, which is all a blessing from God, and set apart the tithe as a separate fund, to be sacredly the Lord's. This fund should not in any case be devoted to any other use; it is to be devoted solely to support the ministry of the gospel. After the tithe is set apart, let gifts and offerings be apportioned, “as God hath prospered you.” RH May 9, 1893, par. 16

(Concluded next week.)