The Review and Herald

1067/1902

May 15, 1900

God Loveth a Cheerful Giver

EGW

Liberality is one of the directions of the Holy Spirit, and when the professed people of God withhold from the Lord his own in gifts and offerings, they meet with spiritual loss. The Lord can not reward a stinted offering. Says the apostle, “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.” RH May 15, 1900, par. 1

God has made men his almoners, co-partners with himself in the great work of advancing his kingdom of the earth; but they may pursue the course pursued by the unfaithful servant, and by so doing lose the most precious privileges ever granted to men. For thousands of years God has worked through human agencies, but at his will he can drop out the selfish, the money-loving, and the covetous. He is not dependent upon our means, and he will not be restricted by the human agent. He can carry on his own work though we act no part in it. But who among us would be pleased to have the Lord do this? RH May 15, 1900, par. 2

It were better not to give at all than to give grudgingly; for if we impart of our means when we have not the spirit to give freely, we mock God. Let us bear in mind that we are dealing with One upon whom we depend for every blessing, One who reads every thought of the heart, every purpose of the mind. RH May 15, 1900, par. 3

The apostle Paul had a special work to present before his Corinthian brethren. There was a famine in Jerusalem, and the disciples, “every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea.” They presented the need to the churches, expecting to receive a small sum for the relief of the needy saints; and in prayer they presented before the Lord the necessity. But the Macedonian brethren, moved by the Spirit of God, first made an entire consecration of themselves to God, and then gave all that they had. They felt it a privilege thus to give expression to their trust in God. The Macedonian brethren were poor, but they did not have to be urged to give. They rejoiced that they had opportunity to contribute of their means. Of themselves they came forward and made the offering, in their Christlike simplicity, their integrity and love for their brethren, denying themselves of food and clothing in cases where they had no money. And when the apostles would have restrained them, they importuned them to receive the contribution, and carry it to the afflicted saints. RH May 15, 1900, par. 4

This self-denial and self-sacrifice far exceeded Paul's expectations, and he was filled with thanksgiving; and taking courage by this example, by epistle he exhorted Titus to stir up the church in Corinth to the same good works. “Moreover, brethren,” he wrote to the Corinthians, “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.” RH May 15, 1900, par. 5

This movement on the part of the Macedonians was inspired of God to arouse in the Corinthian church the spirit of liberality. Paul sought to uproot the plant of selfishness from the hearts of his brethren; for the character can not be complete in Christ when self-love and covetousness are retained. The love of Christ in their hearts would lead them to help their brethren in their necessities. By pointing them to the sacrifice Christ had made in their behalf, he sought to arouse their love. “I speak not by commandment,” he said, “but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 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 May 15, 1900, par. 6

Here is the apostle's mighty argument. It is not the commandment of Paul, but of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Son of God had left his riches and honor and glory, and clothed his divinity with humanity, that humanity might take hold of divinity, and become a partaker of the divine nature. He came not to live in the palaces of kings, to live without care or labor and be supplied with all the conveniences which human nature naturally craves. The world never saw its Lord wealthy. In the council of heaven he had chosen to stand in the ranks of the poor and the oppressed, to take his place with the humble worker, and learn the trade of his earthly parent. He came to the world to be a reconstructor of character, and he brought into all his work the perfection which he desired to bring into the character he was transforming by his divine power. Nor did he shun the social life of his countrymen. That all might become acquainted with God manifest in the flesh, he mingled with every class of society, and was called the friend of sinners. In himself Christ possessed an absolute right to all things, but he gave himself to a life of poverty that man might be rich in heavenly treasure. Commander in the heavenly courts, he took the lowest place on earth. Rich, yet for our sake he became poor. Though he was in the form of God, he “thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” RH May 15, 1900, par. 7

How great was the gift of God to man, and how like our God to make it! With a liberality that can never be exceeded he gave, that he might save the rebellious sons of men and bring them to see his purpose and discern his love. Will you, by your gifts and offerings, show that you think nothing too good for Him who “gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”? The man who truly loves God will not offer to him lip service merely. He will bring to the treasury his gifts and offerings, that laborers may be sent forth to sow the precious seed. RH May 15, 1900, par. 8

For a little time the Lord allows man to be his steward, that he may test his character. In that time man decides his eternal destiny. If he works in opposition to the will of God, he can not belong to the royal family. The silver and the gold, which were not his, but the Lord's, he has misapplied. The day of probation granted him he has abused, and he receives the reward of the unfaithful servant. RH May 15, 1900, par. 9

Evidence of the work of grace in the heart is given when we do good to all men as we have opportunity. The proof of our love is given in a Christlike spirit, a willingness to impart the good things God has given us, a readiness to practice self-denial and self-sacrifice in order to help advance the cause of God and suffering humanity. Never should we pass by the object that calls for our liberality. We reveal that we have passed from death unto life when we act as faithful stewards of God's grace. God has given us his goods; he has given us his pledged word that if we are faithful in our stewardship, we shall lay up in heaven treasures that are imperishable. RH May 15, 1900, par. 10

Men and women need to understand that the means they are handling are not their own. “Ye are not your own,” the apostle says, “for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” To withhold our offerings will not be for our own interest or for the glory of God. The Lord will use all who will give themselves to be used. But he requires heart service. “My son,” he says, “give me thine heart.” When the heart is given to God, our talents, our energy, our possessions, all we have and are, will be devoted to his service. RH May 15, 1900, par. 11