The Review and Herald

136/1902

November 21, 1878

Holiday Presents

EGW

The holidays are approaching. In view of this fact, it will be well to consider how much money is expended yearly in making presents to those who have no need of them. The habits of custom are so strong that to withhold gifts from our friends on these occasions would seem to us almost a neglect of them. But let us remember that our kind heavenly Benefactor has claims upon us far superior to those of any earthly friend. Shall we not, during the coming holidays, present our offerings to God? Even the children may participate in this work. Clothing and other useful articles may be given to the worthy poor, and thus a work may be done for the Master. RH November 21, 1878, par. 1

Let us remember that Christmas is celebrated in commemoration of the birth of the world's Redeemer. This day is generally spent in feasting and gluttony. Large sums of money are spent in needless self-indulgence. The appetite and sensual pleasures are indulged at the expense of physical, mental, and moral power. Yet this has become a habit. Pride, fashion, and gratification of the palate, have swallowed up immense sums of money that have really benefited no one, but have encouraged a prodigality of means which is displeasing to God. These days are spent in glorifying self rather than God. Health has been sacrificed, money worse than thrown away, many have lost their lives by overeating or through demoralizing dissipation, and souls have been lost by this means. RH November 21, 1878, par. 2

God would be glorified by his children should they enjoy a plain, simple diet, and use the means intrusted to them in bringing to his treasury offerings, small and great, to be used in sending the light of truth to souls that are in the darkness of error. The hearts of the widow and fatherless may be made to rejoice because of gifts which will add to their comfort and satisfy their hunger. RH November 21, 1878, par. 3

Let all who profess to believe the present truth calculate how much they spend yearly, and especially upon the recurrence of the annual holidays, for the gratification of selfish and unholy desires, how much in the indulgence of appetite, and how much to compete with others in unchristian display. Sum up the means thus spent all needlessly, and then estimate how much might be saved as consecrated gifts to God's cause without injury to soul or body. Mites and more liberal gifts may be brought in, according to the ability of the giver, to aid in lifting debts from churches which have been dedicated to God. Then there are missionaries to be sent into new fields, and others to be supported in their respective fields of labor. These missionaries have to practice the strictest economy, even denying themselves the very things you enjoy daily, and which you consider the necessaries of life. They enjoy few luxuries. RH November 21, 1878, par. 4

If, after prayerful consideration of this matter, you are not moved to prompt and zealous action, we shall know that you have forgotten your first love, that you have lost sight of the sacrifice Jesus has made for you that you might be blessed with the gift of eternal life. Said Christ, “If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” Self-denial is a mark of Christianity. To offer to God gifts that have cost us something, a sacrifice that we shall ask him to use to advance his cause in the earth, will be pleasing to him. The Saviour will accept the free-will offerings of every one, from the oldest to the youngest. Even small children may participate in this work, and enjoy the privilege of bringing their little offerings. While we have been mindful of our earthly friends from year to year, have we not neglected our heavenly Friend? In bestowing our gifts liberally upon our friends, have we not forgotten God and passed him by? RH November 21, 1878, par. 5

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 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.” RH November 21, 1878, par. 6

Heavy debts are upon several of our churches. Let us consider from this time how we may economize in expending our means, and help to remove these incumbrances. As Christians, we should follow the directions of the inspired apostle: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves.” RH November 21, 1878, par. 7

The apostle Paul gave directions to Timothy similar to the instruction given by Peter: “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” RH November 21, 1878, par. 8

It would be well pleasing to God if extra ornaments, twice so explicitly forbidden in the word of God, were laid off. Now is a favorable opportunity to present these as offerings to God. They may be sold for something, and the money thus received may be used to advance the precious cause of truth. Let the wearing of useless trimmings and adornments be discarded. Extravagance should never be indulged in to gratify our pride. Our dress may be of good quality, made up with plainness and simplicity, for durability rather than for display. Our appetites must also be brought into subjection, and not gratified to our injury. The question should come home to every heart, “How much owest thou unto my Lord?” He has granted us privileges and blessings without number; and now should not the bands of selfishness be broken and removed from us, and the just claims of God and humanity be met? RH November 21, 1878, par. 9

Missionaries are planting the standard of truth in foreign lands. Publications must be multiplied, and scattered like the leaves of autumn. These silent messengers are enlightening and molding the minds of thousands in every country and in every clime. As a people, we come far short of moving forward as fast as the providence of God opens the way. He gives the command, “Go forward.” Thousands are thirsting for living truth. The Macedonian cry is coming to us from every direction, “Come over and help us.” We look about us and inquire, “Who will go?” One and another may respond, “Send me. I long to do something for my Master.” But to do this requires money. RH November 21, 1878, par. 10

Time and again I have had presented before me a vision of people, across the broad ocean, standing in perplexity, and pale with anxiety, and earnestly inquiring, “What is truth?” Say they, “We want the bread of life. Our churches are backslidden from God. We want to find the old paths. We want to come back to the simplicity of gospel religion.” Our tears will flow as we see this picture, like a reality, rising vividly before us. The voice from Heaven pleads, “Go ye therefore into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” While so great a work remains to be done, shall not we, as Christ's followers, arouse to a sense of our God-given responsibilities, and be active in doing our part? RH November 21, 1878, par. 11

The lands that have never heard the truth are yet to hear it. They are to become vocal with the praise of God, and to lift their voices in proclaiming the last note of warning. If the church of Christ will now use all her talents of means and of influence according to God's order, the great work may be carried forward gloriously. We need men who are adapted to the work. Money is also needed to carry it forward. Let the church show that she is in earnest. A steady flow of means from each member will keep the treasury supplied with funds. “Bring ye,” says God, “all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house.” If all the sin-offerings and peace-offerings and thank-offerings are brought into the treasury, we shall see that souls will not be so dark and backslidden from God. They will show by their works that they have a lively interest in the success of the truth, and the advancement of the glory of God in the earth. That which costs little, we have no special interest in; but that in which we have invested our means, claims our interest and attention, and we will labor to make it a success. RH November 21, 1878, par. 12

We see the churches of our day encouraging feasting, gluttony, and dissipation, by the suppers, fairs, dances, and festivals gotten up for the purpose of gathering means into the church treasury. Here is a method invented by carnal minds to secure means without sacrificing. Such an example makes an impression upon the minds of youth. They notice that lotteries and fairs and games are sanctioned by the church, and they think there is something fascinating in this way of obtaining means. A youth is surrounded by temptations. He enters the bowling alley, the gaming saloon, to see the sport. He sees the money taken by the one who wins. This looks enticing. It seems an easier way of obtaining money than by earnest work, which requires persevering energy and strict economy. He imagines there can be no harm in this; for similar games have been resorted to in order to obtain means for the benefit of the church. Then why should he not help himself in this way? He has a little means, which he ventures to invest, thinking it may bring in quite a sum. RH November 21, 1878, par. 13

Whether he gains or loses, he is in the downward road to ruin. But it was the example of the church that led him into the false path. RH November 21, 1878, par. 14

Let us stand clear of all these church corruptions, dissipations, and festivals, which have a demoralizing influence upon young and old. We have no right to throw over them the cloak of sanctity because the means is to be used for church purposes. Such offerings are lame and diseased, and bear the curse of God. They are the price of souls. The pulpit may defend festivals, dancing, lotteries, fairs, and luxurious feasts, to obtain means for church purposes; but let us participate in none of these things; for if we do, God's displeasure will be upon us. We do not propose to appeal to the lust of appetite or resort to carnal amusements as an inducement to Christ's professed followers to give of the means which God has intrusted to them. If they do not give willingly, for the love of Christ, the offering will in no case be acceptable to God. RH November 21, 1878, par. 15

Death, clad in the livery of Heaven, lurks in the pathway of the young. Sin is gilded over by church sanctity. These various forms of amusement in the churches of our day have ruined thousands who, but for them, might have remained upright and become the followers of Christ. Wrecks of character have been made by these fashionable church festivals and theatrical performances, and thousands more will be destroyed; yet people will not be aware of the danger, nor of the fearful influences exerted. Many young men and women have lost their souls through these corrupting influences. RH November 21, 1878, par. 16

While God in his providence has laden the earth with his bounties and filled its storehouses with the luxuries of life, there is no excuse whatever for allowing the treasury of God to remain empty. Christians are not excusable for permitting the widow's cries and the orphan's prayers to ascend to Heaven because of their suffering want, while a liberal Providence has placed in the hands of these Christians abundance to supply their need. Let not the cries of the widow and fatherless call down the vengeance of Heaven upon us as a people. In the professed Christian world, there is enough expended in extravagant display, for jewels and ornaments, to supply the wants of all the hungry and clothe the naked in our towns and cities; and yet these professed followers of the meek and lowly Jesus need not deprive themselves of suitable food or comfortable clothing. What will these church members say when confronted in the day of God by the worthy poor, the afflicted, the widows and fatherless, who have known pinching want for the meager necessities of life, while there was expended by these professed followers of Christ, for superfluous clothing, and needless ornaments expressly forbidden in the word of God, enough to supply all their wants? RH November 21, 1878, par. 17

We see ladies professing godliness wear elegant gold chains, necklaces, rings, and other jewelry, with a profusion of feathers and ribbons and expensive trimmings, while want stalks in the streets, and the suffering and destitute are on every side. These do not interest them, nor awaken their sympathy; but they will weep over the imaginary suffering depicted in the last novel. They have no ears for the cries of the needy, no eyes to behold the cold and almost naked forms of women and children around them. They look upon real want as a species of crime, and withdraw from suffering humanity as from a contagious disease. To such, Christ will say, “I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick and in prison, and ye visited me not.” RH November 21, 1878, par. 18

But on the other hand Christ says to the righteous: “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:35-40. Thus Christ identifies his interest with that of suffering humanity. Deeds of love and charity done to the suffering are as though done to himself. RH November 21, 1878, par. 19

“As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of man.” There will be feasting and merriment, sorrow and want and anguish, until the end comes. Then the wicked shall reap that which they have sown—corruption. RH November 21, 1878, par. 20