The Review and Herald

819/1902

March 31, 1896

Wealth an Entrusted Talent

EGW

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” RH March 31, 1896, par. 1

The followers of Christ are not to despise wealth; they are to look upon wealth as the Lord's entrusted talent. By a wise use of his gifts, they may be eternally benefited, but we are to bear the fact in mind that God has not given us riches to use just as we shall fancy, to indulge impulse, to bestow or withhold as we shall please. We are not to use riches in a selfish way, devoting them simply to our own enjoyment. This course would not be doing right toward God or toward our fellow men, and would bring at last only perplexity and trouble. RH March 31, 1896, par. 2

We are probationers, placed upon trial. God has furnished us with opportunities by which we may copy the highest pattern of character. Christ is to be our pattern. He was rich in heavenly treasure; but although he was rich, for our sake he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. The Lord has made human agents his stewards, and the whole universe of heaven is interested to see what use men make of that which has been given them. God has entrusted his blessing to men for the purpose of helping their fellow men who are in actual necessity. No one is to feel that his fellow man is of less value in the sight of God because he is poor. Those who are hungry, naked, and suffering, are committed by God himself to the mercy, the love, and the tender care of those whom he has made his stewards. Men misapply their blessings when they use their riches in an extravagant outlay for selfish indulgence, for the gratification of themselves, for lifting up their hearts in pride and vanity. They misapply their blessings when they hoard up their riches, and leave their fellow men destitute of even the necessities of life. The world favors the rich, and looks upon them as of greater value than the honest poor man; but the rich are developing their characters after the manner in which they use their entrusted gifts. They are making manifest whether or not it will be safe to trust them with eternal riches. Both the poor and the rich are deciding their own eternal destiny and proving whether they are fit subjects for the inheritance of the saints in light. Those who put their riches to a selfish use in this world are revealing attributes of character that show what they would do if they had greater advantages, and possessed the imperishable treasures of the kingdom of God. The selfish principles exercised on the earth are not the principles which will prevail in heaven. All men stand on an equality in heaven; for there is no caste with God. Christ said, “All ye are brethren.” RH March 31, 1896, par. 3

Everything we have received in this world has come to us through the gracious mercy of Christ. His example shows every man what he should do with God's entrusted goods. Men will not live an inactive life in the earth after it has been cleansed and purified. It is to become the abode of the saints, the dwelling-place of those who have been doers of the words of Christ, who have been faithful stewards, to whom it will be safe to entrust greater treasure. “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? “If you reveal the fact that selfish principles control your life and character, and lead you to hoard your means to glorify yourself, and you pay no attention to the temporal and spiritual necessities of your fellow men, your destiny will be decided, and you will be left outside the kingdom of God. You have used God's means in your own way, and after a manner of your own choosing. Those who thus employ their God-entrusted talents, will not develop the character which dwelt in our Lord Jesus Christ, and will not be partakers of the higher riches which are as enduring as eternity. RH March 31, 1896, par. 4

Why is it that riches are called unrighteous mammon?—It is because Satan uses worldly treasure to ensnare, deceive, and delude souls, to accomplish their ruin. God has given directions as to how they are to appropriate his goods in relieving the wants of suffering humanity, in advancing his cause, in building up his kingdom in the world, in sending missionaries into regions beyond, in disseminating the knowledge of Christ in all parts of the world. If the God-entrusted means are not thus applied, will not God surely judge for these things? Souls are left to perish in their sins while church-members who claim to be Christians are using God's sacred trust of means in gratifying unholy appetites, in indulging self. What a vast amount of God's entrusted capital is expended in purchasing tobacco, beer, and liquor! God has forbidden all these indulgences because they tear down the human structure. Through their indulgence health is sacrificed, and life itself is offered on Satan's shrine. Perverted appetite causes the brain to become enfeebled, so that men cannot think sharply and clearly, and devise plans that will succeed in temporal matters; and much less can they bring a cultivated intellect into their religious transactions. They are unable to discern sacred and eternal things above those which are common and temporal. Satan has invented many ways in which to squander the means which God has given. Card-playing, betting, gambling, horse-racing, and theatrical performances are all of his own inventing, and he has led men to carry forward these amusements as zealously as though they were winning for themselves the precious boon of eternal life. Men lay out immense sums in following these forbidden pleasures; and the result is, their God-given power, which has been purchased by the blood of the Son of God, is degraded and corrupted. The physical, moral, and mental powers which are given to men of God, and which belong to Christ, are zealously used in serving Satan, and in turning men from righteousness and holiness. Everything is devised that can possibly turn the mind from that which is noble and pure, and the boundary line is almost reached when the inhabitants of the earth will be as corrupt as were the inhabitants of the world before the flood. Of the condition of society at that day it is written, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence.” Jesus said concerning our own day, “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.” RH March 31, 1896, par. 5

If we look at the picture of the days that were before the flood, and then turn our attention to the habits and practises of society today, we shall see that our earth is fast ripening for the plagues of the last days. Men have corrupted the earth by their sinful course of action. Satan is playing the game of life for the souls of men. Those who are doers of the words of Christ will find that they will have to watch and pray continually in order that they may not be led into temptation. Many do not seem to appreciate the fact that the money they needlessly expend on amusements which only vex the soul and lay the foundation for the corruption of their morals, is money that belongs to the Lord. Those who use money for selfish gratification are pleasing and glorifying the enemy of all righteousness. If they turned their hearts to God, they would use their money to bless and uplift their fellow men, to relieve poverty and suffering. Starvation is in our world, nakedness, disease, and death; yet how few abate their sinful extravagance! Satan is inventing everything that he can possibly devise in order to keep men thoroughly occupied, so that they shall have no time to consider the question, “How is it with my soul?” RH March 31, 1896, par. 6

The owner of all our earthly treasures came to our world in human form. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. We cannot appreciate how deeply interested he must be in the human family. He knows the value of every soul. What grief oppressed him as he saw his purchased inheritance charmed with Satan's inventions! The only satisfaction Satan takes in playing the game of life for the souls of men is the satisfaction he takes in hurting the heart of Christ. Though he was rich, for our sake Christ became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. Yet in view of this great fact, the majority of the world permit earthly possessions to eclipse heavenly attractions. They set their affections upon earthly things, and turn away from God. What a grievous sin it is that men will not come to their senses, and understand how foolish it is to permit inordinate affections for earthly things to expel the love of God from the heart. When the love of God is expelled, the love of the world quickly flows in to supply the vacuum. The Lord alone can cleanse the soul-temple from the moral defilement. RH March 31, 1896, par. 7

Jesus gave his life for the life of the world, and he places an infinite value upon man. He desires that man shall appreciate himself, and consider his future well-being. If the eye is kept single, the whole body will be full of light. If the spiritual vision is clear, unseen realities will be looked upon in their true value, and beholding the eternal world will give added enjoyment to this world. The Christian will be filled with joy in proportion as he is a faithful steward of his Lord's goods. Christ yearns to save every son and daughter of Adam. He lifts his voice in warning, in order to break the spell which has bound the soul in captivity to the slavery of sin. He beseeches men to turn from their infatuation. He brings the nobler world before their vision, and says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon the earth.” Christ sees the danger; he knows the subtle temptations and power of the enemy; for he has experienced Satan's temptations. He gave his life to procure a period of probation for the sons and daughters of Adam. With the result of Adam's disobedience and transgressions before them, with greater light shining upon them, they are invited to come unto him and find rest unto their souls. But the greater the light and the plainer the danger signal, the greater the condemnation of those will be who turn from light to darkness. The words of Christ are too serious in their import to be disregarded. RH March 31, 1896, par. 8

Men seem moved with an insane desire to procure earthly possessions. Every species of dishonesty is practised in order to accumulate wealth. Men pursue their business affairs with intense zeal, as though success in this line would be a surety for obtaining heaven. They bind up the Lord's entrusted capital in worldly goods, and there is no means with which to advance the kingdom of God in the world by relieving the mental and physical distress of the world's inhabitants. Many who profess to be Christians fail to heed the command of Christ when he says, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” RH March 31, 1896, par. 9

The Lord will not compel men to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with their God; he sets before the human agent good and evil, and makes plain what will be the sure result of following one course or the other. Christ invites us, saying, “Follow me.” But we are never forced to walk in his footsteps. If we do walk in his footsteps, it is the result of deliberate choice. As we see the life and character of Christ, strong desire is awakened to be like him in character; and we follow on to know the Lord, and to know his goings forth are prepared as the morning. We then begin to realize that “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” RH March 31, 1896, par. 10