The Review and Herald

1175/1902

February 4, 1902

A Test of Gratitude and Loyalty

EGW

“Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” RH February 4, 1902, par. 1

This scripture teaches that God, as the Giver of all our benefits, has a claim upon them all; that His claim should be our first consideration; and that a special blessing will attend all who honor this claim. RH February 4, 1902, par. 2

Herein is set forth a principle that is seen in all God's dealing with men. The Lord placed our first parents in the garden of Eden. He surrounded them with everything that could minister to their happiness, and He bade them acknowledge Him as the possessor of all things. In the garden He caused to grow every tree that was pleasant to the eye or good for food; but among them He made one reserve. Of all else, Adam and Eve might freely eat; but of this one tree God said, “Thou shalt not eat of it.” Here was the test of their gratitude and loyalty to God. RH February 4, 1902, par. 3

So the Lord has imparted to us Heaven's richest treasure in giving us Jesus. With Him He has given us all things richly to enjoy. The productions of the earth, the bountiful harvests, the treasures of gold and silver, are His gifts. Houses and lands, food and clothing, He has placed in the possession of men. He asks us to acknowledge Him as the Giver of all things; and for this reason He says, Of all your possessions I reserve a tenth for myself, besides gifts and offerings, which are to be brought into my storehouse. This is the provision God has made for, carrying forward the work of the gospel. RH February 4, 1902, par. 4

It was by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who gave His life for the life of the world, that this plan for systematic giving was devised. He who left the royal courts, who laid aside His honor as Commander of the heavenly hosts, who clothed His divinity with humanity in order to uplift the fallen race; He who for our sake became poor that we through His poverty might be rich, has spoken to men, and in His wisdom has told them His own plan for sustaining those who bear His message to the world. RH February 4, 1902, par. 5

The Lord has devised this plan because it is best for us. Satan is constantly working to foster in men worldliness, covetousness, and avarice, that he may ruin their souls, and hinder the work of God. The Lord is seeking to cultivate in us gratitude and liberality. He desires to free us from selfishness, which is so offensive to Him, because so contrary to His character. In carrying out God's plan, men may, by His grace, so relate themselves to Him and to their fellow men that they will be registered in the books of heaven as co-laborers with Christ in the great plan of redemption. RH February 4, 1902, par. 6

Not only does the Lord claim the tithe as His own, but He tells us how it should be reserved for Him. He says, “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase.” This does not teach that we are to spend our means on ourselves, and bring to the Lord the remnant, even though it should be otherwise an honest tithe. Let God's portion be first set apart. The directions given by the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul in regard to gifts, present a principle that applies also to tithing: “On the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” Parents and children are here included. Not only the rich, but the poor, are addressed. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart [through the candid consideration of God's prescribed plan], so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” The gifts are to be made in consideration of the great goodness of God to us. RH February 4, 1902, par. 7

And what more appropriate time could be chosen for setting aside the tithe and presenting our offerings to God? On the Sabbath we have thought upon His goodness. We have beheld His work in creation as an evidence of His power in redemption. Our hearts are filled with thankfulness for His great love. And now, before the toil of a week begins, we return to Him His own, and with it an offering to testify our gratitude. Thus our practice will be a weekly sermon, declaring that God is the possessor of all our property, and that He has made us stewards to use it to His glory. Every acknowledgment of our obligation to God will strengthen the sense of obligation. Gratitude deepens as we give it expression, and the joy it brings is life to soul and body. RH February 4, 1902, par. 8

The duty and privilege of systematic giving to the cause of God is a matter that should by no means be neglected by our ministers. God has called them to watch for souls as they that must give an account. He has commissioned them to bear His message to the churches. They should see that none are left in ignorance concerning this subject. They should seek to impress the people with a sense of their entire dependence upon God, and their accountability to Him for all His benefits. RH February 4, 1902, par. 9

God has given special direction as to the use to which the tithe should be devoted. He does not design that His work shall be crippled for want of means. That there may be no haphazard work and no error, He has made our duty on all these points very plain. The portion that God has reserved for himself is not to be diverted to any other purpose than that which He has specified. Let none feel at liberty to retain their tithe, to use according to their own judgment. They are not to use it for themselves in an emergency, nor to apply it as they see fit, even in what they may regard as the Lord's work. God has shown honor to men in taking them into partnership with himself in the great work of redemption. He expects His agents to labor not against Him, but in unison with Him, that His treasury may be supplied. RH February 4, 1902, par. 10

The minister should, by precept and example, teach the people to regard the tithe as sacred. He should not feel that he can retain and apply it according to his own judgment, because he is a minister. It is not his. He is not at liberty to devote to himself whatever he thinks is his due. Let him not give his influence to any plans for diverting from their legitimate use the tithes and offerings dedicated to God. Let them be placed in the Lord's treasury, and held sacred for His service as He has appointed. RH February 4, 1902, par. 11

The tithe is God's portion, not at all the property of man, and the Scripture declares that he who withholds it is guilty of robbery. Who, then, will stand with clean hands before the Lord? RH February 4, 1902, par. 12

In the night season I was in my dreams in a large meeting, with ministers, their wives, and their children. I wondered that the company present was mostly made up of ministers and their families. The prophecy of Malachi was brought before them in connection with Daniel, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zechariah. The teaching of these books was carefully investigated. The building of the temple, and the temple service, were considered. There was close searching of the Scriptures in regard to the sacred character of all that appertained to the temple service. Through the prophets, God has given a delineation of what will come to pass in the last days of this earth's history; and the Jewish economy is full of instruction for us. RH February 4, 1902, par. 13

The offering of beasts did not cleanse away sin, but was a symbol of the great and complete sacrifice that was to be made for the sins of the whole world. The rivers of blood that flowed at the harvest thanksgiving, when sacrifices were offered in such large numbers, were meant to teach a great truth. For even the productions of the earth, the bounties provided for man's sustenance, we are indebted to the offering of Christ upon the cross of Calvary. God teaches us that all we receive from Him is the gift of redeeming love. From His instruction to Israel, He would have us learn that He has made ample provision for the poor to receive the comforts of this life, and also for the gospel to be carried to all those who are perishing in their sins. RH February 4, 1902, par. 14

The whole sanctuary service was designed to impress the people with the fact that the things which God has set apart for himself are holy. They were ever to observe the distinction between the sacred and the common. Holy things must be kept holy. RH February 4, 1902, par. 15

All these things were closely studied by the company before me in my dream. Scripture was compared with scripture, and application was made of the word of God to our own time. After a diligent searching of the Scriptures, there was a period of silence. A very solemn impression was made upon the people. The deep moving of the Spirit of God was manifest among us. All were troubled, all seemed to be convicted, burdened, and distressed, as they saw their own life and character represented in the word of God, and the Holy Spirit was making the application to their hearts. RH February 4, 1902, par. 16

Conscience was aroused. The record of past days was making its disclosure of the vanity of human inventions. The Holy Spirit brought all things to their remembrance. As they reviewed their past history, there were revealed defects of character that ought to have been discerned and corrected. They saw how through the grace of Christ the character should have been transformed. The workers had known the sorrow of defeat in the work intrusted to their hands, when they should have had victory. RH February 4, 1902, par. 17

The Holy Spirit presented before them Him whom they had offended. They saw that God will not only reveal himself as a God of mercy and forgiveness and long forbearance, but by terrible things in righteousness He will make it manifest that He is not a man that He should lie. RH February 4, 1902, par. 18

Words were spoken by One, saying, “The hidden, inner life will be revealed. As if reflected in a mirror, all the inward working of the character will be made manifest. The Lord would have you examine your own lives, and see how vain is human glory.” “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts; all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” RH February 4, 1902, par. 19

The period of our probation is fast closing. Soon our opportunity to give the last message of mercy to the lost will be forever past. The help of every one that loves Jesus is needed now, in the Lord's work. Let there be no idlers in the Master's vineyard. Let there be no robbery of God in tithes and offerings, which are needed to sustain His cause. RH February 4, 1902, par. 20

Those who are laborers in word and in doctrine will have all that they can possibly do in improving their God-given charge: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.” The minister's wife may be a great help to her husband in seeking to lighten his burden if she keeps her own soul in the love of God. She can teach the word to her children. She can manage her own household with economy and discretion. United with her husband, she can educate her children in habits of economy, teaching them to restrict their wants. Those who have large families will have burdens in the home life. Those who have but one or two children to engage their time and attention may educate themselves to do service for the Lord in helping their husbands in more general work. RH February 4, 1902, par. 21

“The liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.” “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” The promise to those who honor God with their substance still stands upon record on the sacred page. If the Lord's people had faithfully obeyed His directions, the promise would have been fulfilled to them. But when men disregard the claims of God, plainly set before them, the Lord permits them to follow their own way, and reap the fruit of their doings. Whoever appropriates to his own use the portion that God has reserved, is proving himself an unfaithful steward. He will lose not only that which he has withheld from God, but also that which was committed to him as his own. RH February 4, 1902, par. 22

Let all study with special care the third chapter of Malachi. That chapter contains warning and instruction in righteousness for every soul. The Lord is still testing us to see whether we will prove faithful servants. He is calling upon His people to consider His goodness, to respond to His mercy, and to give proof of their loyalty by bringing all the tithes into His storehouse. “Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” RH February 4, 1902, par. 23