The Review and Herald

1039/1902

December 19, 1899

“How Hardly Shall They That Have Riches Enter Into the Kingdom of God”

EGW

These words of the Saviour are deeply significant, and call for our earnest study. Those who possess ability to acquire money, unless they are constantly on the watch, will turn their acquisitiveness to a bad account, and, falling under the temptation to overreach for sordid gain, they will sacrifice all the generous, noble principles of their manhood. RH December 19, 1899, Art. A, par. 1

Many men who possess great wealth have obtained their riches by close dealing, by benefiting themselves at the expense of their fellow men; and they glory in their shrewdness in closing a bargain. Every dollar thus obtained, and the increase of every such dollar, has upon it the curse of God. Acts of oppression or deviation from the right in any way should not be tolerated in men who possess wealth any more than in those who are poor. In the sight of God all the riches that a man may possess will not atone for the smallest sin. Repentance, humility, a broken heart, and a contrite spirit are the offerings that God accepts. Wealthy men are to be more closely tested than they have ever yet been. If they stand the test, and remove the blemishes of dishonesty and injustice from their characters, and as faithful stewards render to God the things that are God's, to them it will be said, “Well done, good and faithful servant: ... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” RH December 19, 1899, Art. A, par. 2

The world and all that is therein belongs to God. He owns the cattle upon a thousand hills. The inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers before him. Man and his property are the small dust of the balance. God is no respecter of persons. Men of property often look upon their wealth and say, By my wisdom have I gotten me this wealth. But who gave them their wisdom? Who gave them power to get wealth?—It was he who gave his life for them. It is Christ who gives men strength to get wealth; but instead of giving him the glory, they take the glory to themselves. God will prove these men and try them, and he will bring their glorying to the dust. He will remove their strength, and scatter their possessions. Instead of a blessing, they will realize a curse. RH December 19, 1899, Art. A, par. 3

Among the professed children of God, there are men and women who love the world, and the things of the world, and these souls are being corrupted by worldly influences. The divine is being dropped out of their nature. As instruments of unrighteousness, they are working out the purposes of the enemy. RH December 19, 1899, Art. A, par. 4

In contrast with this class, stands the honest, industrious poor man, who is ready to help those who need help, and willing to suffer wrong rather than manifest the close, acquisitive spirit of the rich. This man esteems a clear conscience and right principles above the value of gold. He is ready to do all the good in his power. If some benevolent enterprise calls for money or for his labor, he is the first to respond, and often he goes far beyond his real ability, denying himself some needed good in order to carry out his benevolent purpose. This man may boast of but little earthly treasure; he may be looked upon as deficient in judgment and wisdom; his influence may not be esteemed of special worth; but in the sight of God he is precious. He may be thought to have little perception, but he manifests a wisdom that is as far above that of the calculating, acquisitive mind as the divine is above the human; for is he not laying up for himself a treasure in the heavens, uncorrupted, undefiled, and that fadeth not away? RH December 19, 1899, Art. A, par. 5

“I say unto you,” Christ declares, “make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 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 men fail to render back to God that which he has lent them to use to his name's glory, they will meet with failure in this life and in the future life. God has lent them talents, which, by using, they may lay up as treasure in heaven. But if, like the man with the one talent, they hide it in the earth, they will lose not only the increase, but the principal also. Because of their robbery of God, they stand bereft of their earthly riches, devoid of heavenly treasure, with no habitation on earth, and no friend in heaven to receive them into the everlasting abodes of the righteous. RH December 19, 1899, Art. A, par. 6

“No servant can serve two masters,” Christ said; “for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye can not serve God and mammon.” When the Pharisees, who were covetous, heard these things, they derided him. But turning to them, Christ said, “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” RH December 19, 1899, Art. A, par. 7

To illustrate this truth, Christ presented before his hearers two characters,—the rich man, who was clad in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day, and the beggar Lazarus, sitting in abject poverty at his gate, who pleaded for the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. “It came to pass,” Christ said, “that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” RH December 19, 1899, Art. A, par. 8

Thus the Saviour estimates character. It is not profession, pharisaism, that God values, but moral worth. A Christian character unspotted by avarice, and possessing the grace of humility, is more precious in the sight of God than fine gold, even than the golden wedge of Ophir. Lazarus, though in so mean a condition, possessed true worth, and God regarded him of such value that he lifted him from his despised and suffering condition to exaltation and honor, while the wealthy, ease-loving man, who was devoid of the grace of Christ, was plunged into misery and woe unutterable. All the wealth of the rich man was unable to draw upon him the favor of God; for his character was worthless. And so Christ desires his followers to estimate character. They are not, like the Pharisees, to value men by their worldly possessions; for a man may possess both riches and worldly honor, and yet be worthless in the sight of God. The poor man, despised by his fellows, and loathsome to the sight, was of value with God, because he possessed moral soundness; and these elements fitted him for the society of the holy angels, to be an heir of God and joint heir with Christ. RH December 19, 1899, Art. A, par. 9

Writing to his son in the gospel, Paul says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.... Charge them that are rich in this world, 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; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” RH December 19, 1899, Art. A, par. 10

Paul would impress upon the mind of Timothy the necessity of giving such instruction as would remove the deception which so easily steals upon the rich, that because of their wealth they are superior to their fellow men who do not have such large possessions as themselves. They suppose their gain to be godliness. They flatter themselves that their acquisitive spirit is accounted to them for righteousness. But touch the property of these men, and you will see by their acts that you touch their god. They are not rich in good works. Ready to distribute, willing to communicate!—they scorn the thought, they despise all such teachings. Man may devote his entire life to the object of obtaining riches; but when his time comes to die, of what use to him is the wealth he has amassed? He can not carry it with him. In order to obtain his wealth, he has staked his all. He was determined to be rich. This was his ambition; and in order to reach it, he overlooked eternal considerations. The enemy deceived him into the belief that it was for a good purpose he desired this wealth, and to obtain it he strained his conscience, and pierced himself through with many sorrows. For the sake of riches he sacrificed every noble principle, and gave up the faith. RH December 19, 1899, Art. A, par. 11

There are many who deny themselves the comforts and blessings of life that they may add a little more to their earthly store. But it is not for this that God gives men money. He “giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” Christ bids us, “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.” There are high and holy interests which call for our money, and the money invested in these will yield to the giver more elevated and permanent enjoyment than if it were expended for personal gratification, or selfishly hoarded for greed of gain. When God calls for our treasure, whatever the amount may be, the willing response makes the gift a consecrated offering to him, and lays up for the giver a treasure in heaven, where moth can not corrupt, where fire can not consume, where thieves can not break through and steal. The investment is safe. The treasure is placed in bags that have no holes; it is secure. RH December 19, 1899, Art. A, par. 12