The Review and Herald

133/1902

October 31, 1878

Beneficence

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 October 31, 1878, par. 1

“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” RH October 31, 1878, par. 2

“The liberal deviseth liberal things, and by liberal things shall he stand.” RH October 31, 1878, par. 3

“Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and 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. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all the nations shall call you blessed.” RH October 31, 1878, par. 4

God is abundantly able to fulfill his promises. Every earthly good comes from his hand. The resources of the Lord are infinite, and he employs them all in accomplishing his purposes. Faithful stewards, who wisely use the goods which God has intrusted to them to advance the truth and bless suffering humanity, will be rewarded for so doing. God will pour into their hands while they dispense to others. He is advancing his cause in the earth through stewards intrusted with his capital. Some there are who, notwithstanding they greatly desire wealth, would be ruined by its possession. God has tested individuals by lending them talents of means. It was in their power to abuse the gift or use it to the glory of God. If they have hoarded or wasted the Lord's money, the Master finally says to them, “Thou mayest be no longer steward.” They have been tested and proved, and found unfaithful in using that which was another man's as though it was their own. God will not intrust such with the eternal riches. RH October 31, 1878, par. 5

Those who make a judicious and unselfish disposition of the Lord's goods, thus identifying their interest with that of suffering humanity, will be advanced; for they act the part which God designed they should in his own system of beneficence The first great principle contained in the moral law is supreme love to God. The second is this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” RH October 31, 1878, par. 6

Every good thing upon the earth was given to man as an expression of the love of God. He makes man his steward, and gives him talents of influence and means to use for the accomplishment of his work in the earth. Our Heavenly Father proposes to connect finite man with himself. As laborers they may be his instruments in the salvation of souls. He has accepted those who have consecrated themselves to his service to preach the word to those who have not a knowledge of the truth. But these are not the only ones whom he uses to advance his work in the earth. Every man who professes to be illuminated by the Spirit of God in this time will be required to enlighten others. “No man liveth to himself,” and yet loves God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself. Every one has his station of duty adapted to his capacity in the accomplishment of this great work. Those who walk in the light of truth will emit light to those around them. They are living witnesses for Christ. They will not be like the world, living in moral darkness, loving themselves and the things of the world, and seeking for earthly treasures. They will be “a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” RH October 31, 1878, par. 7

It will cost much self-denial and self-sacrifice to imitate the pattern, Christ Jesus. In order to become like him, we must cultivate a benevolent disposition. Those who have the most of this world's goods often manifest a selfish penuriousness in giving to the cause of God. The most liberal donations frequently come from the poor man's purse, while those with whom God has intrusted an abundance, for the very purpose of supplying the wants of the cause, fail to see where means are most needed, and do not regard the cries of the needy who are in their very midst. These cries go up to Heaven, and are a powerful testimony in condemnation of the unjust, selfish course of the unfaithful stewards. The offerings of the poor, given through self-denial to aid in extending the precious light of saving truth, will not only be a sweet-smelling savor to God, and wholly acceptable to him as a consecrated gift, but the very act of giving expands the heart of the giver, and unites him more fully to the Redeemer of the world. He was rich; but for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. The smallest sums given cheerfully by those who are in limited circumstances are fully as acceptable to God, and even of more value in his sight, than the offerings of the rich who can bestow their thousands, and yet exercise no self-denial, and feel no lack. RH October 31, 1878, par. 8

The poor widow manifested love, faith, and benevolence combined, in contributing her two mites; for she gave all that she had, without questionings or doubts in regard to her uncertain future. Christ represents her little offering as the greatest gift of all that had been cast into the treasury that day. The rich gave of their abundance. They did not need to exercise faith, for they had means enough left to supply all their wants. It was not the value of the coin that was regarded by Christ, but the devoted purity of the motive which prompted the sacrifice. This small gift, with God's blessing upon it, could become instrumental in accomplishing important results. The widow's mite, cast into the treasury with thousands of other coins, would appear insignificant, and be lost to human vision, but not to the eye of God. The Source of all riches, the great Benefactor, would make this sincere, genuine offering of the highest value for good. The widow's mite has been like a stream, small at the source, but continuing to flow through all time, until it has widened, and deepened, and run in a thousand channels, contributing to the extension of the truth, and supplying the wants of the needy. The influence of this small gift has acted and reacted upon humanity in every age of the world, and in every country upon the globe. The tiny rills which have flowed into the treasury of the Lord from the liberal, self-denying poor, have formed a living fountain, and its streams flow forth refreshing the needy, and resulting in the salvation of thousands of souls. RH October 31, 1878, par. 9

Again, the example of the widow's mite cannot be estimated in its influence upon the hearts of those who are inclined to selfishly withhold from God the goods he has intrusted to them. Her liberality, her faith and sincerity, are a standing rebuke to the ease-loving, selfish, doubting ones who have means with which they might do good if they would. They are provoked to good works by the unselfish gifts of the poorer brethren. That little deed of benevolence manifested by the widow was but a small light in the beginning; but it has been steadily burning brighter and brighter, and shedding its rays farther and with more intense radiance, and it will still continue to shine brighter and stronger, reaching to all countries and climes. The poor as well as the rich may enjoy the blessed privilege of knowing that they are God's stewards, and may identify their interests with Jesus Christ, and with suffering humanity, who are the purchase of his blood. RH October 31, 1878, par. 10

But God would not have rich or poor entertain the idea for a moment that he is dependent upon them, nor that their liberalities can in any case supply defects of Christian character. Liberality is but one of the traits which are characteristic of a Christian. The inspired apostle says, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity [love], it profiteth me nothing.” Charity is thus defined: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.” The character of a tree bearing all these fruits may be readily discerned. For “by their fruits ye shall know them.” As followers of Jesus Christ, we must be wide awake to discern with heavenly eyesight the devices of Satan. God has given us his word as a chart to mark out our way to the eternal shore. With the Bible for our guide, aided by our own reason kept clear by strictly temperate habits, we may be able to acquit ourselves like servants of the Master who have duties to perform and eternal interests to secure. RH October 31, 1878, par. 11

Benevolence is one precious trait of character which needs to be cultivated and strengthened by continual exercise. God is not dependent upon us. He could speak the word, and every mountain would be turned into gold. “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell thee; for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.” These words were spoken as a reproof to Israel, whose hearts were not right with God. They were multiplying their sacrifices, as though to make a compromise with God, while they were separating from him by wicked works. While they multiplied their victims upon the altar of sacrifice, they did not cultivate pure and vital godliness in the heart, which would move them to act constantly in reference to the two great principles of the moral law, love to God and love to man. RH October 31, 1878, par. 12

Gifts and offerings will not purchase salvation for any of us. The religion of the Bible is that development of our moral natures in which the soul holds converse with God, loves that which God loves, and hates that which God hates. God will not accept your offerings if you withhold yourself. He asks not only for that which is his own in the means intrusted to you, but for his own property in your body, soul, and spirit, purchased at the infinite price of the blood of the Son of God. RH October 31, 1878, par. 13

God might have made angels the ambassadors of his truth. He might have proclaimed the law from Sinai with his own voice. But he has chosen to take man into his counsel, and connect him with himself, that through the instrumentality of man the mysteries of the cross of Christ might be fully explained in an audible voice. Man has a work to do. And in this work, life will prove a blessing. The real value of life to him is indicated by the character of the work which employs his powers. If the powers which angels possess were given to man they would be of no use unless some new work was given him in which to engage them. All the riches intrusted to man are only a curse unless he employs them to relieve his own daily wants and those of the needy around him, and to glorify his Maker by advancing his cause in the earth. Objects which shall call benevolence into action must be placed before him, or he cannot imitate the character of the Great Exemplar. Man would have no gifts to bestow were they not first given to him. But our Heavenly Father has made every provision for man, that he may be fully tested and proved, and through the merits of Christ perfect a righteous character. RH October 31, 1878, par. 14

God has made man his brother's keeper, and will hold him responsible for this great trust. God has taken man into union with himself, and he has planned that men shall work in harmony with him. He has provided the system of beneficence, that man whom he has made in his image may be self-denying in character, like Him whose infinite nature is love. He has appointed man as his almoner to distribute the blessings he has given him. “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.” God has done for our good all that a kind Heavenly Father could do. He appeals to humanity whether he has failed in a single instance to do all that he could do for the highest interest of man. “Judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” RH October 31, 1878, par. 15

God has reposed confidence in us in making us stewards of means and of his rich grace. How shall we show our appreciation of his care and love and unparalleled mercy, except in grateful returns to him of our talents of means and ability with faithfulness and integrity. We cannot possibly enrich the Lord by bestowing any favor directly upon him, for he is the giver of all our bounties. But he points us to the poor and suffering and oppressed, and to souls bound in chains of superstition and error, and assures us that if we do good to these he accepts the deed as though done to himself. Christ identifies himself with suffering humanity. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” RH October 31, 1878, par. 16