The Review and Herald


November 15, 1906

Christian Liberality


Under the Jewish system, God's chosen people were required to cherish a spirit of liberality, both in sustaining his cause and in supplying the wants of the needy. At the harvest and the vintage, the first-fruits of the fields—corn, wine, and oil—were to be consecrated as an offering to the Lord. The gleanings and the corners of the fields were reserved for the poor. The first-fruits of the wool when the sheep were shorn, and of the grain when the wheat was thrashed, were to be offered to the Lord; and at the feast it was commanded that the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the strangers should be invited. At the close of every year all were required to make solemn oath whether or not they had done according to the command of God. RH November 15, 1906, par. 1

This arrangement was made by the Lord to impress upon the people that in every matter he must be first. They were, by this system of benevolence, reminded that their gracious Master was the true proprietor of their fields, their flocks, and their herds; that the God of heaven sent them sunshine and rain for their seed-time and harvest; and that everything which they possessed was of his creation. All was the Lord's, and he had made them stewards of his goods. RH November 15, 1906, par. 2

The liberality of the Jews in the construction of the tabernacle evinced a spirit of benevolence which has not been equaled by the people of God at any later date. The Hebrews had just been freed from their long bondage in Egypt; they were wanderers in the wilderness; yet scarcely were they delivered from the armies of the Egyptians who pursued them in their hasty journey, when the word of the Lord came to Moses: “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.” RH November 15, 1906, par. 3

His people had small possessions, and no flattering prospect of adding to them; but an object was before them,—to build the tabernacle of God. The Lord had spoken, and they must obey his voice. They withheld nothing. All gave with a willing hand, not a certain amount of their increase, but a large portion of their actual possessions. They devoted it gladly and heartily to the Lord. They honored him by so doing. Was it not all his? Had he not given them all that they possessed? If he called for it, was it not their duty to give back to the Lender his own? No urging was needed. The people brought even more than was required; and they were told to desist, for there was already more than could be appropriated. RH November 15, 1906, par. 4

Again, in building the temple, the call for means met with a hearty response. The people did not give reluctantly; they rejoiced in the prospect that a building would be erected for the worship of God. They gave more than enough for the purpose. David blessed the Lord before all the congregation, and said, “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.” Again, in his prayer David gave thanks in these words: “O Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own.” RH November 15, 1906, par. 5

David well understood from whom came all his bounties. Would that those of this day who rejoice in a Saviour's love could realize that their silver and gold is the Lord's, and should be used to promote his glory, not grudgingly retained to enrich and gratify themselves. He has an indisputable right to all that he has lent his creatures. All that they possess is his. RH November 15, 1906, par. 6

There are high and holy objects that require means; thus invested, it will yield to the giver more elevated and permanent enjoyment than if expended in personal gratification or selfishly hoarded for the 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 that moth can not corrupt, nor fire consume, nor thieves break in and steal. The investment is safe. The money is placed in bags that have no holes. RH November 15, 1906, par. 7

Can Christians who boast of a broader light than had the Hebrews, give less freely than they? Can Christians, living near the close of time, be satisfied with their offerings when not half so large as were those of the Jews? Their liberality was to benefit primarily their own nation; the work of God in these last days extends to the entire world. The message of truth is to go to all nations, tongues, and people; its publications, printed in many different languages, are to be scattered abroad like the leaves in autumn. RH November 15, 1906, par. 8

It is written, “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind;” and again, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” Let us inquire, What would our Saviour do in our circumstances? what would be his efforts for the salvation of souls? This question is answered by the example of Christ. He left his royalty, laid aside his glory, sacrificed his riches, and clothed his divinity with humanity, that he might reach men where they were. He laid down his life for sinners. RH November 15, 1906, par. 9

The spirit of liberality is the spirit of heaven. The spirit of selfishness is the spirit of Satan. Christ's self-sacrificing love is revealed upon the cross. He gave all that he had, and then gave himself, that man might be saved. The cross of Christ appeals to the benevolence of every follower of the blessed Saviour. The principle illustrated there is to give, give. This, carried out in actual benevolence and good works, is the true fruit of the Christian life. The principle of worldlings is to get, get, and thus they expect to secure happiness; but, carried out in all its bearings, the fruit is misery and death. RH November 15, 1906, par. 10

To carry the truth to the population of the earth, to rescue them from their guilt and indifference, is the mission of the followers of Christ. Men must have the truth in order to be sanctified through it; and we are the channels of God's light. Our talents, our means, our knowledge, are not merely for our own benefit; they are to be used for the salvation of souls, to elevate man from his life of sin, and bring him, through Christ, to the infinite God. RH November 15, 1906, par. 11

We should be zealous workers in this cause, seeking to lead sinners, repenting and believing, to a divine Redeemer, to impress them with a sense of God's love to man. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” What an incomparable love is this! a theme for the most profound meditation! the amazing love of God for a world that did not love him! The thought has a subduing power upon the soul, and brings the mind into captivity to the will of God. Men who are crazy for gain, and are disappointed and unhappy in their pursuit of the world, need the knowledge of this truth to quiet the restless hungering and thirsting of their souls. RH November 15, 1906, par. 12

Missionaries for God are wanted to carry light to those who sit in the shadow of death. Experienced hands are needed, in the meekness of wisdom and the strength of faith, to lift weary souls to the bosom of a compassionate Redeemer. O, selfishness! what a curse! It prevents us from engaging in the service of God. It prevents us from perceiving the claims of duty, which should set our hearts aglow with fervent zeal. RH November 15, 1906, par. 13

Ours is a great work. Yet how many who profess to believe these sacred truths are paralyzed by the sophistry of Satan, doing nothing for God, but rather hindering his cause! When will they act like those who wait for the Lord? When will they show a zeal in accordance with their faith? Many who are able to give liberally when the cause is in need, selfishly retain their means, and soothe their conscience with a plan for doing some great thing for the cause of God after their death. They make a will, giving a large sum to the church and its various interests, and then settle down with a feeling that they have done all that is required of them. Wherein have they denied self by this act? They have, on the contrary, revealed selfishness. When they have no further use for their money, they propose to give it to God. But they will retain it as long as they can, till they are compelled to relinquish it by a messenger that can not be turned aside. RH November 15, 1906, par. 14

God has made us all his stewards, and in no case has he authorized us to neglect our duty or leave it for others to do. The call for means to advance the cause of truth will never be more urgent than now. Our money will never do a greater amount of good than at the present time. Every day of delay in rightly appropriating it, is limiting the period in which it will do good in the saving of souls. If we leave others to accomplish that which God has left for us to do, we wrong ourselves and him who gave us all we have. How can others do our work of benevolence any better than we can do it ourselves? So far as practicable, God would have every man an executor of his own will in this matter, during his lifetime. RH November 15, 1906, par. 15

Adversity, accident, or intrigue may cut off forever intended acts of benevolence, when he who has accumulated a fortune is no longer by to guard it. It is sad that so many neglect the golden opportunity to do good in the present, but wait to be cast out of their stewardship before giving back to the Lord the means which he has lent them to be used for his glory. RH November 15, 1906, par. 16

One marked feature in the teachings of Christ is the frequency and earnestness with which he rebuked the sin of covetousness, and pointed out the danger of worldly acquisitions and the inordinate love of gain. In the mansions of the rich, in the temple, and in the streets, he warned those who inquired after salvation: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness.” “Ye can not serve God and mammon.” RH November 15, 1906, par. 17

It is this increasing devotion to money getting, the selfishness which the desire for gain begets, that deadens the spirituality of many in the church, and removes from them the favor of God. When the head and hands are constantly occupied with planning and toiling for the accumulation of riches, the claims of God and humanity are forgotten. RH November 15, 1906, par. 18

If God has blessed us with prosperity, it is not that our time and attention should be diverted from him and given to that which he has lent us. The giver is greater than the gift. We have been bought with a price; we are not our own. Have we forgotten that infinite price paid for our redemption? Is gratitude dead in the heart? Does not the cross of Christ put to shame a life of selfish ease and indulgence? RH November 15, 1906, par. 19

What if Christ had left his work, becoming weary in consequence of the ingratitude and abuse that met him on every side! What if he had never reached that period when he said, “It is finished!” What if he had returned to heaven, discouraged by his reception! What if he had never passed through that soul-agony in the garden of Gethsemane that forced from his pores great drops of blood! RH November 15, 1906, par. 20

Christ was joined to his plan of labor to work out redemption for the race, by a love that is without parallel and an unswerving devotion to the Father's will. He toiled for the good of man up to the very hour of his humiliation. He spent his life in poverty and self-denial, for the degraded sinner. In a world that was his own he had no place to lay his weary head. We are reaping the fruits of this infinite self-sacrifice; and yet, when labor is to be done, when our money is wanted to aid the work of the Redeemer in the salvation of souls, many shrink from duty and pray to be excused. Ignoble sloth, careless indifference, and wicked selfishness seal the senses of many to the claims of God. RH November 15, 1906, par. 21

O, must Christ, the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, bear the heavy cross, and wear the thorny crown, and drink the bitter cup, while we recline at ease, glorify ourselves, and forget the souls he died to redeem by his precious blood? No; let us give, while we have the power. Let us do, while we have the strength. Let us work, while it is day. Let us devote our time and our means whole-heartedly to the service of God, that we may have his approbation, and receive his reward. RH November 15, 1906, par. 22