The Review and Herald

208/1902

May 16, 1882

“Will a Man Rob God?”

EGW

The Lord, by the prophet Malachi, asks the question, “Will a man rob God?” He would seem to imply that such a crime could not be possible. But despite the heinous character of the offense, he adds, “Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” The fact that this solemn charge is brought against the professed people of God, should lead us to earnest self-examination, watchfulness, and prayer, lest we be included in its condemnation. RH May 16, 1882, par. 1

The Bible does not condemn the rich man because he is rich; it does not declare the acquisition of wealth to be a sin, nor does it say that money is the root of all evil. On the contrary, the Scriptures state that it is God who gives the power to get wealth. And this ability is a precious talent if consecrated to God and employed to advance his cause. The Bible does not condemn genius or art; for these come of the wisdom which God gives. We cannot make the heart purer or holier by clothing the body in sackcloth, or depriving the home of all that ministers to comfort, taste, or convenience. RH May 16, 1882, par. 2

The Scriptures teach that wealth is a dangerous possession only when placed in competition with the immortal treasure. It is when the earthly and temporal absorbs the thoughts, the affections, the devotion which God claims, that it becomes a snare. Those who are bartering the eternal weight of glory for a little of the glitter and tinsel of earth, the everlasting habitations for a home which can be theirs but a few years at best, are making an unwise choice. Such was the exchange made by Esau, when he sold his birthright for a mess of pottage; by Balaam, when he forfeited the favor of God for the rewards of the king of Midian; by Judas, when for thirty pieces of silver he betrayed the Lord of glory. RH May 16, 1882, par. 3

It is the love of money that the word of God denounces as the root of all evil. Money itself is the gift of God to men, to be used with fidelity in his service. God blessed Abraham, and made him rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And the Bible states, as an evidence of divine favor, that God gave David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, very much riches and honor. RH May 16, 1882, par. 4

Like other gifts of God, the possession of wealth brings its increase of responsibility, and its peculiar temptations. How many who have in adversity remained true to God, have fallen under the glittering allurements of prosperity. With the possession of wealth, the ruling passion of a selfish nature is revealed. The world is cursed today by the miserly greed and the self-indulgent vices of the worshipers of mammon. RH May 16, 1882, par. 5

The wealthy are tempted to employ their means in self-indulgence, in the gratification of appetite, in personal adornment, or in the embellishment of their homes. For these objects professed Christians do not hesitate to spend freely, and even extravagantly. But when solicited to give to the Lord's treasury, to build up his cause, and to carry forward his work in the earth, many demur. The countenance that was all aglow with interest in plans for self-gratification, does not light up with joy when the cause of God appeals to their liberality. Perhaps, feeling that they cannot well do otherwise, they dole out a limited sum, far smaller than they freely spend for needless indulgence. But they manifest no real love for Christ, no earnest interest in the salvation of precious souls. What marvel that the Christian life of this class is at best but a dwarfed and sickly existence! Unless such persons change their course, their light will go out in darkness. RH May 16, 1882, par. 6

The end of all things is at hand; and what is done for the salvation of souls must be done quickly. For this reason we are establishing institutions for the dissemination of the truth through the press, for the education of the young, and for the recovery of the sick. But the selfish and money-loving inquire “What is the use of all this, when time is so short? Is it not a contradiction of our faith to spend so much in publishing houses, schools, and health institutions?” We ask in reply, If time is to continue but a few years, why invest so much in houses and lands, or in needless and extravagant display, while so meager a sum is devoted to the work of preparation for the great event before us? RH May 16, 1882, par. 7

My brother, in no way can you more profitably employ your means than in aiding our various institutions. With God's blessing, the power of the press can hardly be over-estimated. It has been truly called the right arm of our strength. Let the publishing houses be sustained, and the message of truth be sent out to all the nations of the earth. RH May 16, 1882, par. 8

Schools have been established that our youth and children may receive the education and discipline needed to prepare them for the searching test so soon to come to every soul. In these schools the Bible should be made one of the principal subjects of study. Attention should be given to the development of both the moral and the intellectual powers. We hope that in these schools many earnest workers may be prepared to carry the light of truth to those who sit in darkness. RH May 16, 1882, par. 9

In a health institution we provide a place where the sick can enjoy the benefit of nature's remedial agents, instead of depending upon deadly drugs. And many who thus find relief, will be ready to yield to the influence of the truth. RH May 16, 1882, par. 10

To advance this work, means are needed. Let all who have the ability come to our help. Here is an opportunity for those, who, possessing a competence, have no children to claim their love and care. Some of these are aged persons. Brethren, what will you do with the means which God has intrusted to you? Are you content to let it remain invested in houses and lands, in bonds and bank stock? We have a work to do for God,—a solemn and important work. We are to give the last message of warning to the world. The various instrumentalities are crippled for want of the financial assistance which God has put it in your power to render. We are not doing the good which we might do, with your co-operation. RH May 16, 1882, par. 11

There are young men among us who can exert a good influence, and who should be encouraged to enter the ministry. But the want of means prevents us from offering them such a support that they need not sacrifice time, health, and even life itself, in the work of the gospel. Faithful workmen can earn good wages in the various departments of secular labor, mental or physical. Is not the work of disseminating truth, and leading souls to Christ, of more importance than any temporal consideration? Are not those who faithfully engage in this work justly entitled to at least an equal compensation? We show our appreciation of the heavenly in contrast to the earthly, by our estimate of the relative value of labor for moral and for physical good. RH May 16, 1882, par. 12

Wealth is a great blessing if used according to the will of God. But the selfish heart can make the possession of wealth a heavy curse. Those are not to be envied who shut up their sympathies within their own hearts. They are strangers to true happiness. The ones who obtain the most real enjoyment in this life are those who use God's bounty and do not abuse it; who live to a purpose, to bless their fellow-men and to glorify God. RH May 16, 1882, par. 13

We should feel that it is not only a duty but a pleasure to aid in the advancement of the highest, holiest work committed to men,—the work of presenting to the world the riches of goodness, mercy, and truth. If the stewards of God do their duty, there is no danger that wealth will increase so rapidly as to prove a snare; for it will be used with practical wisdom and Christlike liberality. RH May 16, 1882, par. 14

However large, however small the possessions of any individual, let him remember that it is his only in trust. For his strength, skill, time, talents, opportunities, and means, he must render an account to God. This is an individual work; God gives to us, that we may become like him, generous, noble, beneficent, by giving to others. Those who, forgetful of their divine mission, seek only to save or to spend in the indulgence of pride or selfishness, may secure the gains and pleasures of this world; but in God's sight, estimated by their spiritual attainments, they are poor, wretched, miserable, blind, naked. RH May 16, 1882, par. 15

When rightly employed, wealth becomes a golden bond of gratitude and affection between man and his fellow-men, and a strong tie to bind his affections to his Redeemer. The infinite gift of God's dear Son calls for tangible expressions of gratitude from the recipients of his grace. He who receives the light of Christ's love, is thereby placed under the strongest obligation to shed the blessed light upon other souls in darkness. RH May 16, 1882, par. 16

Jesus left the heavenly courts and came down to earth, that he might reach men where they are. He sought them in their wretchedness and debasement. He took their sorrows to his own heart. The King of glory became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. He lived a life of toil and humiliation, and suffered a shameful death, that he might exalt men to share his kingdom and his throne. His life is an example to all his followers. RH May 16, 1882, par. 17

God is the rightful owner of the universe. All things belong to him. Every blessing which men enjoy is the result of divine beneficence. He requires that a portion be returned to him, not because he needs our offerings, but that we may show our appreciation of his gifts and our gratitude to the Giver. He justly bids us consecrate to him the first and best of his intrusted capital. If we thus acknowledge his rightful sovereignty and gracious providence, he has pledged his word that he will bless the remainder. But if we fail to bring an offering to God, his curse will rest upon all our possessions. RH May 16, 1882, par. 18

Even when our first parents, in their innocency, were placed in the garden of Eden, God did not give them unlimited control. One prohibition was given to test their loyalty and obedience. But they saw that the forbidden tree was beautiful and attractive, and, as they vainly imagined, “to be desired to make one wise.” They appropriated what God had reserved to himself, and his curse fell upon them and upon the earth. RH May 16, 1882, par. 19

We deplore the disloyalty and ingratitude of our first parents, which opened the flood-gates of woe to our world, and yet how many are pursuing a similar course. They are not content with their rightful share of the bounties intrusted to them. The more abundant the gifts of God, the more eager are they to appropriate all to their own use, and the more unwilling to render to him that which he claims as his own. Like our first parents, many reach out their hands for the portion which belongs to God. RH May 16, 1882, par. 20

Let us turn to another scene. Cain and Abel each brought an offering to God. The object presented by each was good in itself, but the Lord accepted the offering of Abel, while he rejected that of Cain. Wherein lay the difference between these offerings? Abel brought the firstling of his flock, Cain the first-fruits of the earth. Abel presented his offering in faith, depending upon the merits of Christ's blood to make it acceptable. He felt that all he had was the Lord's; and he freely gave back to the Giver his own. Cain proudly brought his offering as a gift from himself, not acknowledging that all the blessings he received came through the mercy and love of Christ. He felt that he merited the divine favor, and he accepted the blessings of God as a right. Thus many professed Christians bring their gifts to the Lord's treasury, feeling that they are deserving of special commendation for their liberality, when, in fact, their offerings have fallen far below what the Lord claims as his own. Like Cain they are unwilling to acknowledge that all their blessings have been purchased by the blood of Christ. Like Cain they are rejected of the Lord. RH May 16, 1882, par. 21

When the magnificent temple erected by Solomon was dedicated to the service of God, the monarch prayed, “All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.” Such is the spirit in which every acceptable offering must be presented. RH May 16, 1882, par. 22

“Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase.” This command is positive. God's claims must be first met. We are not to consecrate to him what remains of our income after all our real or imaginary wants are satisfied; but before any portion is consumed, we should set apart that which God has specified as his. RH May 16, 1882, par. 23

Many persons will meet all inferior demands and dues, and leave to God only the last gleanings, if there be any. If not, his cause must wait till a more convenient season. Such was not the course pursued by Abraham. Upon his return from a successful military expedition, he was met by Melchizedek, “king of Salem, and priest of the most high God.” This holy man blessed Abraham, in the name of the Lord, and the patriarch gave him tithes of all the spoils as a tribute of gratitude to the Ruler of nations. RH May 16, 1882, par. 24

See also the example of another of the heroes of faith. While journeying from his father's home, a lonely, exile, Jacob entered into covenant with God. He entreated the Lord to be gracious unto him, and pledged himself to render in return grateful sacrifice and willing service. “If God will be with me, and will keep me in the way that I go, ... then shall the Lord be my God, and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” RH May 16, 1882, par. 25

Such was the practice of patriarchs and prophets before the establishment of the Jews as a nation. But when Israel became a distinct people, the Lord gave them definite instruction upon this point: “All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's; it is holy unto the Lord.” This law was not to pass away with the ordinances and sacrificial offerings that typified Christ. As long as God has a people upon the earth, his claims upon them will be the same. RH May 16, 1882, par. 26

A tithe of all our increase is the Lord's. He has reserved it to himself to be employed for religious purposes. It is holy. Nothing less than this has he accepted in any dispensation. A neglect or postponement of this duty, will provoke the divine displeasure. If all professed Christians would faithfully bring their tithes to God, his treasury would be full. They would have no occasion to resort to fairs, lotteries, or parties of pleasure, to extort means from worldlings for the support of the gospel. RH May 16, 1882, par. 27

The very same language is used concerning the Sabbath as in the law of the tithe: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Man has no right nor power to substitute the first day for the seventh. He may pretend to do this; “nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure.” The customs and teachings of men will not lessen the claims of the divine law. God has sanctified the seventh day. That specified portion of time, set apart by God himself for religious worship, continues as sacred today as when first hallowed by our Creator. In like manner a tithe of our income is “holy unto the Lord.” The New Testament does not re-enact the law of the tithe, as it does not that of the Sabbath; for the validity of both is assumed, and their deep spiritual import explained. RH May 16, 1882, par. 28

God has made an absolute reservation of a specified portion of our time and our means. To ignore these claims is to rob God. Christians boast that their privileges far exceed those of the Jewish age. Shall we then be content to give less to the cause of God than did his ancient people? The tithe was but a part of their liberalities. Numerous other gifts were required besides the free-will offering, or offering of gratitude, which was then, as now, of perpetual obligation. RH May 16, 1882, par. 29

The claims of humanity and religion, the constantly increasing opportunities for usefulness, the providential openings for the truth to be presented to the people, demand of us liberal offerings to the cause of God. The popular churches of the day, being in harmony with the world, receive aid from them in educational and philanthropic enterprises. Our position as observers of the true Sabbath cuts us off from popular sympathy and support. Our institutions receive help only from those who are of the faith. Hence we should feel it our duty to do all in our power to keep the Lord's treasury supplied. While we as a people are seeking faithfully to give to God the time which he has reserved as his own, shall we not also render to him that portion of our means which he claims? RH May 16, 1882, par. 30