The Review and Herald

753/1902

December 25, 1894

Our Duty to the Poor and Afflicted

EGW

“If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother; but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanted. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him naught; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him; because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.” RH December 25, 1894, par. 1

In the Old Testament the very same principles were revealed as those which Christ gave in his sermon on the mount. The scribes and Pharisees knew so little of these principles through every-day practice, that Christ's sermon on the mount was as a new revelation to them, and sounded like heresy to their ears. They had misinterpreted the Scripture, and regarded the maxims and sayings of men that had passed to them from rabbi to rabbi, as having the sanctity of inspiration. But the commands of men were not like the divine commands, and better suited their carnal hearts. Jesus, who had instituted the law, knew just how far these professedly pious teachers had departed from the law, and how far they had made it void by their traditions. They had worshipped God in vain, “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” RH December 25, 1894, par. 2

Jesus revealed to them the far-reaching principles of the law of God. That which had been said by the rabbis of old time, though it had been oft repeated, and was hoary with age, though it was regarded by men as on a par with divine authority, was put in contrast with his own divine principle. The lessons he had taught to Israel in the Old Testament he repeated in the New Testament. He enjoined upon them the exercise of mercy, compassion, and love toward all with whom they came in contact. Had the Israelites practiced the lessons which Christ spoke from the pillar of cloud, there would have been no oppression by man of his fellow-men. Jesus had said in the Old Testament: “Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take the widow's raiment to pledge; but thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence; therefore I command thee to do this thing. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive-tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt; therefore I command thee to do this thing.” RH December 25, 1894, par. 3

If Israel had carried out the will of God that had been made known unto them, the blessing promised to the pure in heart would have rested upon them. They would have seen God, and by beholding him would have become like him in character. The ever-working principle and power of the Holy Spirit would have wrought upon human nature, till the heart was changed, and the character conformed to the likeness of Christ's character. In daily doing the words of Christ, it becomes a pleasure to do his will. Christ came to our world to live out the law of God, to be our pattern in all things. He placed himself between the mercy-seat and the vast number of heartless worshipers who were full of ostentation, pride, and vanity, and by his lessons of truth, which were eloquent with simplicity, he impressed the people with the necessity of spiritual worship. His lessons were impressive, beautiful, and weighty with importance, and yet so simple that a child could understand them. The truth he presented was so deep that the wisest and most accomplished teacher could never exhaust it. Those who work as seeing the invisible, will always preserve simplicity, charging the simplest words with the power of the grandest truths. It was with this kind of teaching that the Lord Jesus exposed the weakness and brought to confusion the theories of the most learned. The spotlessness of his character, untainted with sin, unmarred by a wrinkle, revealed the marked contrast there was between his religion and the pious pretensions of the Pharisees. They could not tolerate Jesus. RH December 25, 1894, par. 4

Though no fault could be found with Christ, he was rejected of men. With all his accusing power, Satan assaulted him, and could find nothing in him to condemn. Judas, who betrayed him, was constrained to own that he had betrayed innocent blood. Pilate, though he passed the sentence of condemnation upon him, declared that he found no fault in him. Pilate's wife sent word to the Roman governor, saying, “Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” This was the character of the great Teacher who has commanded us to treat our brethren with tenderness and compassion. Shall we disregard his words, and choosing impurity of heart, fail to see God? In failing to obey the words of Christ we become hardhearted, insensible to the woe of our fellow-men, and lack tenderness and love. RH December 25, 1894, par. 5

I address those who are in responsible positions. How stands your record when compared with the Scripture of the Old and New Testaments? None of your excuses for neglect of obeying the word of God just as it reads, will stand before Heaven. When you employ a man in any branch of the work, and he does his best, and still falls into decay, and his wife and children are caused to suffer, you may pass judgment upon him because he is not successful in his work, and you may allow the cry of this brother and his family to come up against you into the ears of God; but remember that as you judge, you will be judged, and as you measure unto others, it will be measured unto you again. Are you not afraid that the Lord will bring you over the very same ground upon which your brother has fallen? Your brother was of just as much value in the sight of God as you are; for there is no respect of persons with God. He strips off the tinsel, the glitter, and the show with which men have clothed themselves, and beholds them in their true character. He allows those who boast themselves to pass through the strait places in which others have fallen, that they may be tested and tried upon the very points in which others have failed, that they may understand what it is to be regarded with indifference, contempt, and scorn. When others failed in the same place, they did not help, strengthen, and bless; but turned from them in heart, and regarded not their situation. RH December 25, 1894, par. 6

The Lord has represented himself as a householder who left his goods with his servants, instructing them to trade upon them for his advantage. “He called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.... And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.” The Lord has given talents to his servants according to their several ability, and he means that they will be good stewards of their Lord's goods. In carrying out the principles of the law of his government, they will put their talents to good use in distributing to the poor, in manifesting the compassion and love of Christ to their fellow-men. Those who do this will hear from his lips the benediction, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” RH December 25, 1894, par. 7