The Review and Herald

185/1902

August 16, 1881

Doing for Christ

EGW

Christ says to his redeemed people, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 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.” RH August 16, 1881, par. 1

To be a patient toiler in that which calls for self-denying labor, is a glorious work, that Heaven smiles upon. Faithful work is more acceptable to God than the most zealous and thought-to-be, holiest, worship. True worship consists in working together with Christ. Prayers, exhortation, and talk are cheap fruits, which are frequently tied on, but fruits that are manifested in good works, in caring for the needy, the fatherless, and widows, are genuine fruits, and grow naturally upon a good tree. RH August 16, 1881, par. 2

Pure religion and undefiled before the Father is this: “To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” The doing principle is the fruit that Christ requires us to bear; doing deeds of benevolence, speaking kind words, and manifesting tender regard for the poor, the needy, the afflicted. When one's heart sympathizes with others burdened with discouragement and grief; when his hand clothes the naked, and the stranger is made welcome to a seat in his parlor and in his heart, then angels come very near, and an answering strain responds in Heaven. Every act, every deed of justice and mercy and benevolence, makes music in Heaven. The Father from his throne beholds and numbers the performer of them with his most precious treasures. “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, when I make up my jewels.” Every merciful act to the needy, or the suffering, is as though done to Jesus. Whoever succors the poor, or sympathizes with the afflicted and oppressed, and befriends the orphan, brings himself into a more close relationship to Jesus. RH August 16, 1881, par. 3

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; for 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. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.” Matthew 25:41-46. RH August 16, 1881, par. 4

Jesus here identifies himself with his suffering people. I was hungry and thirsty; I was a stranger; I was naked; I was sick; I was in prison. When you were enjoying your food from your bountifully spread tables, I was famishing of hunger in the hovel or street, not far from you. When you closed your doors against me, while your well-furnished rooms were unoccupied, I had not where to lay my head. Your wardrobes were filled with an abundant supply of changeable suits of apparel, upon which means had been needlessly squandered, which you might have given to the needy. I was destitute of comfortable apparel. When you were enjoying health, I was sick. Misfortune cast me into prison and bound me with fetters, bowing down my spirit, depriving me of freedom and hope, while you roamed free. What a oneness Jesus here expresses as existing between himself and his suffering disciples. He makes their case his own. He identifies himself as being, in their person, the very sufferer. Here, mark, selfish Christian, that every neglect of yours to the needy poor, the orphan, the fatherless, is a neglect to Jesus in their person. RH August 16, 1881, par. 5

But there are some persons who make high professions, whose hearts are so encased in self-love and selfishness that they cannot appreciate these things. They have all their lives thought and lived only for self. To make a worthy sacrifice to do others good, to disadvantage themselves for the purpose of benefiting others, is out of the question with them. They have not the least idea that God requires this of them. Self is their dear idol. Precious weeks, months, and years of valuable time pass into eternity, but they have no record in Heaven of kindly acts, of sacrificing for others’ good, of feeding the hungry, of clothing the naked, or taking in the stranger. Entertaining strangers at a venture is not agreeable; if they knew that all who shared their bounty were worthy, then they might be induced to do something in that direction. But there is virtue in venturing something. Perchance we may entertain angels. RH August 16, 1881, par. 6

There are orphans that can be cared for; but many will not venture to undertake such a work; for it involves more labor than they care to do, leaving them but little time to please themselves. But when the King shall make investigation, these do-nothing, illiberal, selfish souls will then learn that Heaven is for those who have been workers; those who have denied themselves for Christ's sake. No provisions have been made for those who have ever taken such special care in loving and looking out for themselves. The terrible punishment the King threatened those on his left hand, in this case, is not because of their great crimes. They are not condemned for the things which they did do, but for that which they did not do. They did not those things Heaven assigned them to do. They pleased themselves, and can take their portion with self-pleasers. RH August 16, 1881, par. 7

Has the injunction of the apostle no force in this age: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”? Our Heavenly Father lays blessings disguised in our pathway, which some will not touch for fear they will detract from their enjoyment. Angels are waiting to see if we embrace opportunities within our reach of doing good—waiting to see if we will bless others, that they in their turn may bless us. The Lord himself has made our circumstances to differ, keeping some poor, and allowing others to become rich, that all may have an opportunity to develop character. RH August 16, 1881, par. 8

When Elijah came to the widow of Sarepta, she shared her morsel with the prophet of God, and he therefore wrought a miracle, so that in the act of making a home for God's servant, and sharing her morsel with him, she was herself sustained, and her life and that of her son preserved. Thus will it prove in the case of many, if they do this cheerfully for the glory of God. Others plead their poor health; they would love to do if they had strength. Such have so long shut themselves up to themselves, and thought so much of their own poor feelings, and talked so much of their sufferings, trials, and afflictions, that it is their present truth. They cannot think of any one else, however much they may be in need of sympathy and assistance. You who are suffering from poor health, there is a remedy for you. If you clothe the naked, and bring the poor that are cast out to your house, and deal your bread to the hungry, then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily. RH August 16, 1881, par. 9

Doing good is an excellent remedy for disease. Such are invited to bring their prayers to God, and he has pledged himself to answer them. “His soul shall be satisfied in drought, and he shall be like a watered garden, whose waters fail not.” Wake up, brethren and sisters. Don't be afraid of good works. “Be not weary in well doing, for in due time ye shall reap if ye faint not.” Do not wait to be told your duty. Open your eyes, and see who is around you, and make yourselves acquainted with the helpless, afflicted, and needy. Hide not yourselves from them; close not your eyes to their needs. Who gives the proofs mentioned in James of possessing pure religion, untainted with any selfishness or corruption? Who is anxious to do all in his power to aid in the great plan of salvation? RH August 16, 1881, par. 10

As you regard your eternal interest, arouse yourselves, and begin to sow good seed. That which ye sow shall ye also reap. The harvest is coming,—the great reaping time, when you shall reap what you have sown. There will be no failure in the crop. The harvest is sure. Now is the sowing time. Now make efforts to be rich in good works, “ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that ye may lay hold on eternal life.” I implore you, my brethren, in every church, rid yourselves of your icy coldness. Encourage in yourselves a love of hospitality, a love to help those who need help. RH August 16, 1881, par. 11

You may say that you have been disappointed by bestowing means upon those unworthy of your charity, and therefore have become discouraged in trying to help the needy. I present Jesus before you. He came to save fallen man. He came to bring salvation to his own nation; but they would not accept him. They treated his mercy with insult and contempt, and at length they put to death Him who came for the purpose of giving life to them. Did our Lord turn from all the fallen race because of this? If your efforts for good have been unsuccessful ninety-nine times, and you have received only insult, reproach, and hate; if the one-hundredth time proves a success, and one soul is saved, oh, what a victory is achieved! One soul wrenched from Satan's grasp, one soul benefited, one soul encouraged! This will a thousand times pay you for all your efforts. To you will Jesus say “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Should we not gladly do all we can to imitate the life of our divine Lord? RH August 16, 1881, par. 12

Many shrink at the idea of making any sacrifice for others’ good. They are not willing to suffer for the sake of helping others. They flatter themselves that it is not required of them to disadvantage themselves for the benefit of others. To such we will say, Jesus is our example. RH August 16, 1881, par. 13

When the request was made that the two sons of Zebedee might sit the one on his right hand and the other on his left in his kingdom, Jesus answered, “Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he said, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, but to sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” How many can answer, We can drink of the cup; we can be baptized with the baptism; and make the answer understandingly? How many imitate the great Exemplar? All who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, in taking this step pledge themselves to walk even as he walked. Yet the course many pursue who make high profession shows that their lives are far from being in conformity to that of the great Pattern. They shape their course to meet their own imperfect standard. They do not imitate the self-denial of Christ, or his life of sacrifice for the good of others. RH August 16, 1881, par. 14

I once heard a wealthy farmer describe the situation of a poor widow living near him. He lamented her straitened circumstances, and then said, “I don't know how she is going to get along this cold winter. She has close times now.” Such have forgotten the work of Christ, and by their acts say, “Nay, Lord, we cannot drink of the cup of self-denial, humiliation, and sacrifice you drank of, nor be baptized with the suffering you were baptized with. We cannot live to do others good. It is our business to take care of ourselves.” RH August 16, 1881, par. 15

Who should know how the widow will get along, unless it be those who have well-filled granaries? The means for her to get along is at hand; and dare those whom God has made his stewards, to whom he has intrusted means, withhold from the needy disciples of Christ? If so, they withhold from Jesus. Do you expect the Lord to rain down grain from Heaven to supply the needy? Has he not rather placed it in your hands to help and bless them through you? Has he not made you his instrument in this good work, to prove you, and to give you the privilege of laying up a treasure in Heaven? Hear what the prophet Isaiah says: RH August 16, 1881, par. 16

“Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon-day. And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” RH August 16, 1881, par. 17

The fast is described which God can accept. “to deal thy bread to the hungry,” and to “bring the poor that are cast out, to thy house.” You are with one hand to reach up, and by faith take hold of the mighty arm which bringeth salvation, while with the other hand of love you reach the oppressed, and relieve them. It is impossible for you to fasten upon the arm of God with one hand, while the other is employed in administering to your own pleasure. RH August 16, 1881, par. 18

If you engage in this work of mercy and love, will it prove too hard for you? Will you fail, and be crushed under the burden, and your family be deprived of your assistance and influence? Oh, no! God has carefully removed all doubts upon this question by a pledge to you on condition of your obedience. This promise covers all the most exacting, the most hesitating, could crave: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health spring forth speedily.” Only believe that He is faithful that has promised. God can renew the physical strength; and more, he says he will do it. And the promise does not end here. “Thy righteousness shall go before thee. The glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.” God will build a fortification around you. Neither does the promise end at this point. “Thou shalt call, and the Lord shall answer. Thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.” If you put down oppression and remove the speaking of vanity, if you draw out your soul to the hungry, “then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday. The Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought [famine], and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” RH August 16, 1881, par. 19

Read Isaiah 58, you who claim to be children of the light. Especially do you read it again and again who have felt so fearful to inconvenience yourselves by favoring the needy; you whose hearts and houses are too narrow to make a home for the homeless, read it. You who can see orphans and widows oppressed by the iron hand of poverty, and bowed down by the hard-hearted worldlings, read it. RH August 16, 1881, par. 20

Are you afraid that an influence will be introduced into your family that will cost you more labor, read that chapter. Your fears may be groundless, and a blessing may come, known and realized by you every day. But if otherwise, if extra labor is called for, you can draw upon One who has promised: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily.” Why God's people are not more spiritually-minded, and have no more faith, is because they are narrowed by selfishness. The prophet is addressing Christians; not sinners, not unbelievers, but those who make great pretensions to godliness. It is not the abundance of your meetings that God accepts. It is not the numerous prayers, but it is right-doing,—doing the right thing, and at the right time. It is to be less self-caring, and more benevolent. Our souls must expand. Then God will make them like a watered garden, whose waters fail not. RH August 16, 1881, par. 21