The Review and Herald

911/1902

December 14, 1897

Christian Liberality

EGW

“This I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (as it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor; his righteousness remaineth forever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.” RH December 14, 1897, par. 1

God is in heaven, but he has delegated his work to those on this earth. This work is to represent Christ. Christ gave himself, a full, complete offering, for the life of the world: and God calls upon all men to make a complete surrender of all they have and are to him, that they may be co-laborers with Christ. This call is just; for to whom is every member of the human family indebted for his possessions?—To God, who not only gives men temporal blessings, but freely offered up his only begotten Son, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” RH December 14, 1897, par. 2

God has entrusted men with his gifts, that they may represent his benevolence toward those who are poor and needy. If they have the spirit of Christ, they will reveal it unmistakably by their helpfulness to others, by a faithful discharge of their duty, by acting tenderly and kindly toward God's heritage. As God sees that his children manifest compassion toward those who are poor and needy, he will bless them as faithful stewards. RH December 14, 1897, par. 3

“Moreover, brethren,” writes the apostle Paul, “we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; how that 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 own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. Therefore, as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge; and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.... For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” RH December 14, 1897, par. 4

To a youthful ruler who inquired of him, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” This was not a hard requirement; for the ruler was not handling his own property. His goods had been entrusted to him by the Lord. The choice was left with him; he must decide for himself. Did he accept the eternal treasure? or did he decide to gratify his desire for earthly treasure, and in so doing, refuse the eternal riches?—When he heard Christ's words, “he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” He chose the earthly good, and lost the eternal weight of glory. RH December 14, 1897, par. 5

Individually, we are tried as was the young ruler. God tests us to see if, as stewards, we can safely be trusted with the eternal riches. Shall we do as the ruler did,—fasten our grasp upon the treasures lent us by God, choosing that which appears most agreeable to the natural heart, and refusing to use our possessions as God plainly states he expects us to? or shall we take up our cross, and follow our Saviour in the path of self-denial? RH December 14, 1897, par. 6

Millions of people in our world are making the choice made by the young ruler. They have intelligence, but they cannot decide to be honest stewards of their Lord's goods. Many say, “I will bless and glorify myself; I will be honored as a man above his fellows.” Jesus paid the price for their redemption; for their sake he became poor, that they might be rich; and yet, though wholly dependent on him for all their earthly possessions, they refuse to do his will by showing love to their fellow men. They are not willing to relieve the necessities of those around them with the means which the Lord has placed in their hands for this purpose. They refuse to appropriate the Lord's capital for the benefit of others, and hold fast to their possessions. Like the ruler, they refuse the heavenly treasure, and choose that which is agreeable to themselves. By such selfishness they prove themselves unworthy of the eternal riches. They show that they are unfit for a place in the kingdom of God; if they were allowed to enter there, they would, like the great apostate, claim everything as if they had created it, and would spoil heaven by their covetousness. RH December 14, 1897, par. 7

Moses was called upon to choose between the world and God. Two conflicting objects were placed before him. The treasures of Egypt, the honor of a temporal crown, and all the worldly benefits involved in this choice, were presented by the prince of this world. The opposite side was presented by the Prince of Light, the world's Redeemer. He held out the recompense of reward, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and showed also the path of affliction, self-denial, and self-sacrifice, that must be traveled by all who gain this reward. RH December 14, 1897, par. 8

The decision was left with Moses. As a free moral agent he was at liberty to choose. All heaven was interested in the matter. What would be his choice?—obedience to God, with the eternal recompense of reward, or obedience to that most agreeable to his own will? “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” RH December 14, 1897, par. 9

“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” This is a lesson for all who would render true service to God. We must not venture to remain where our associations will tend to draw us away from God, and to obscure our view of the reward of obedience. RH December 14, 1897, par. 10

There is no saving faith in Christ only as it is revealed by obedience. Every human being is under a solemn responsibility to obey God. His present and eternal happiness depends upon his willing obedience to the divine requirements. Man's will and inclination are to be wholly yielded to God. When this is done, man will co-operate with God, showing, by precept and example, that he has chosen to be, in all his ways, under the control of his Maker. God rejoices when, like Moses, his children choose rather to serve him than to enjoy the pleasures of this world. Could the curtain be rolled back, could men behold the angelic host as they glorify God with songs of gladness and rejoicing, they would realize that obedience ever causes joy, and disobedience, sorrow. God and the angels rejoice over every victory gained by the Christian; but when temptation overcomes the soul, there is sorrow in heaven. RH December 14, 1897, par. 11

While in this world, men are tested by the society they choose, and by the attributes of character they develop. All who belong to the kingdom of Christ are of one family. They love God supremely, and their neighbors as themselves. “Therefore, as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also,”—the grace of Christian liberality. “To do good and to communicate forget not.” By “communicate,” the apostle does not here mean “to speak;” for in the verse previous he has said, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” By this “communicating” the apostle means Christian liberality. God desires that the bounties which he has freely given to his children shall be communicated to those who are in need. By this communication, by the utterance of kindly words, accompanied by deeds of love, those who work for God will find entrance to hearts, and will win others to Christ. RH December 14, 1897, par. 12

“Charge them that are rich in this world,” says the apostle, “that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.” God would have those whom he has blessed with means, take of their abundance, and relieve the necessities of the poor. As they do this, they receive their reward; for they are “laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” RH December 14, 1897, par. 13

God's children should be educated to see that he has claims upon them. As regularly as the seasons come round, he gives us the harvest of the earth. His liberality is constant and systematic; and our returns to him are to be made in accordance with the gifts which day by day he bestows upon us. The steady, unfailing flow of Jehovah's goodness testifies of his love and benevolence. Then shall we not, with hearts filled with gratitude for all his blessings, respond by dispensing his gifts as faithful stewards? RH December 14, 1897, par. 14

All classes are entrusted with the Lord's gifts, and none are exempt from the work of Christian beneficence. There will be those who, by their unfaithfulness, will make God's benevolence to them a curse. The blessings that are shut up to the service of self, work harm instead of benefit, and God will withdraw his gifts from the unfaithful steward. Let us carefully follow God's directions in the use of what he has given us; and as we do this, he will supply grace for every time of need; for he is acquainted with the desires of the heart to follow a wrong course, and with the temptations that surround us. Let us carry out God's requirements by imparting our blessings to those around us, not from compulsion, but because he has, for our own good, made us laborers together with him. He has ordained that we shall carry forward his work by an active, living benevolence, which has for its foundation a “Thus saith the Lord.” In his strength we can do this; for he is able to make all grace abound toward us, that we, “always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” RH December 14, 1897, par. 15