The Review and Herald

752/1902

December 18, 1894

Our Duty to the Poor and Afflicted

EGW

“Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? ... If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” RH December 18, 1894, par. 1

I appeal to my brethren in faith, and urge them to cultivate tenderness of heart. Whatever may be your calling or position, if you cherish selfishness and covetousness, the displeasure of the Lord will be upon you. Do not make the work and cause of God an excuse for dealing closely and selfishly with any one, even if transacting business that has to do with his work. God will accept nothing in the line of gain that is brought into his treasury through selfish transactions. Every act in connection with his work is to bear divine inspection. Every sharp transaction, every attempt to take advantage of a man who is under pressure of circumstances, every plan to purchase his land or property for a sum beneath its value, will not be acceptable to God, even though the money gained is made an offering to his cause. The price of the blood of the only begotten Son of God has been paid for every man, and it is necessary to deal honestly, to deal with equity with every man, in order to carry out the principles of the law of God. RH December 18, 1894, par. 2

The great principles contained in that law enjoin upon us the duty of loving God supremely and our neighbors as ourselves. Those who love God will keep the first four precepts of the decalogue, which define the duty of man to his Creator. But in carrying out this principle through the grace of Christ, we shall express in our characters the divine attributes, and shall work out the love of God in all our dealing with our fellow-men. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God gave his best gift to the world, and whosoever has the attributes of God will love his fellow-men with the same love wherewith God has loved him. The Spirit of God dwelling in the heart will be manifested in love to others. RH December 18, 1894, par. 3

In keeping the first four commandments, which reveal the duty of man to his God, the worshiper of God will find that he cannot cherish one fiber of the root of selfishness. He cannot do his duty to his God, and practice oppression toward his fellow-men. The second principle of the law is like unto the first, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” “This do, and thou shalt live.” These are the words of Jesus Christ, from which there can be no departure on the part of any man, woman, or youth who would be a true Christian. It is obedience to the principles of the commandments of God, that molds the character after the divine similitude. Those who render this obedience through the grace of Christ, possess the attributes of the Saviour's character, and are partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. The word “lust” here includes not only licentiousness, but covetousness, desire for position, love of money, and that which leads to false dealings and unjust practices. RH December 18, 1894, par. 4

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned; and in keeping of them there is great reward.” The people who keep God's commandments are to bring the law of God into their lives, and reveal its value in their characters; they are to be Christlike and show forth true charity. RH December 18, 1894, par. 5

“Thou shalt not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates; at his day shalt thou give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it; lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee.” “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him; the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until morning.” RH December 18, 1894, par. 6

The Lord Jesus gave these commandments from the pillar of cloud, and Moses repeated them to the children of Israel and wrote them in a book, that they might not depart from righteousness. We are under obligation to fulfill these specifications; for in so doing we fulfill the specifications of the law of God. If a brother who has labored disinterestedly for the cause of God, becomes enfeebled in body, and is unable to do his work, let him not be dismissed and be obliged to get along the best way he can. Give him wages sufficient to support him; for remember he belongs to God's family, and that you are all brethren. In the New Testament the world's Redeemer has specified what constitutes pure religion in our dealings with our fellow-men. Obeying the first four commandments with the whole soul causes us to render supreme love to God, and to become co-workers with God in carrying out the will of God toward our fellow-men. Keeping the first four commandments makes us one with Christ, who gave his life as a ransom to deliver all from the thralldom of sin, and to make us free men and women in him. The value of man is to be estimated at the price paid for his redemption. RH December 18, 1894, par. 7

The last six precepts of the decalogue reveal the duty of man to his fellow-men; and those who render obedience to the first four commandments will also carry out the injunctions of the last six. We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. This command is not that we shall simply love those who think and believe exactly as we think and believe. Christ illustrated the meaning of the commandment by the parable of the good Samaritan. But how strangely these precious words are neglected, and how frequently men oppress their fellow-men, and lift up their souls unto vanity. Men glory in themselves and exalt themselves above their brethren. “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” “Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” RH December 18, 1894, par. 8

Can we wonder that the curse of God is upon the earth, upon man and beast, when his law is set aside as a thing of naught, and men are following the imagination of their own hearts, as did the inhabitants of the world before the flood? All this foretells the coming of Christ and the end of all things. “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Through selfish pride, through selfish gratification, the blessing of God has been shut away from men and from his professed people, because they have despised his words, and have failed to relieve the sufferings of humanity. “Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God; for I am the Lord your God. Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. And all the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.” RH December 18, 1894, par. 9

To those who are doers of the words of Christ, prosperity is insured. In obeying his words, you become workers together with God in uplifting, in blessing, and strengthening the sons of men, cultivating good impulses, and uprooting that which is evil. Christ said, “Make the tree good, and his fruit good.” It is only practical piety that is of value. No spurious religionist will enter into the kingdom of heaven, and those who are genuine will bring forth the fruit that is found upon the Christian tree. The fruit found upon the tree is in harmony with its nature. This law prevails throughout the natural kingdom, and illustrates the truth found in the spiritual kingdom. When there is a decided change from a life of sin to one of purity, there will be a corresponding change in words and actions. Those who exercise faith dwell in the presence of purity, and are one with Christ. Their life is hid with Christ in God. RH December 18, 1894, par. 10

“Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.” The pure in heart ever keep before them their invisible Lord, and they catch his Spirit; they love their Lord with all the heart, and exercise in their lives the love that God has manifested toward all human beings. But “he that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” Let all read and understand these words of John, in order that they may make no mistake. To what commandments is John referring? He says, “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you; because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” RH December 18, 1894, par. 11

“If thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him; yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase; but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.” How tenderly the Lord regards all who are suffering and in want! They are to be helped, not to be oppressed. “Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase. I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.” RH December 18, 1894, par. 12

It would be well if every church would read in its assemblies from the Old Testament the lessons which Christ gave to the people. The Spirit and character of our Heavenly Father in his dealings with men are revealed through these lessons. RH December 18, 1894, par. 13