The Review and Herald


September 16, 1884

A Lesson on Covetousness


As Jesus was departing from a certain place, a young man came to him with the inquiry, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God; but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him. If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.” RH September 16, 1884, par. 1

Jesus quoted to the young man five of the last six commandments, also the second great commandment, on which the last six commandments depend. These he thought he had kept. Jesus did not mention the first four commandments, which define our duty to God. In answer to the inquiry,” What lack I yet?” Jesus said to him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.” RH September 16, 1884, par. 2

Here was his lack. He failed to love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself. Jesus touched his possessions. Said he, “Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor.” This pointed out the young man's idol. His love of riches was supreme; hence it was impossible for him to love God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind. And this supreme love for his riches shut his eyes to the wants of his fellow-men. He did not love his neighbor as himself; therefore he failed to keep the last six commandments. His heart was on his treasures, swallowed up in his earthy possessions. He loved the things of earth better than God, better than the heavenly treasure. Jesus tested him to see which he loved most, riches or eternal life. Did he eagerly lay hold of the eternal prize? Did he earnestly strive to remove the obstacle that was in the way of his having a treasure in heaven? Oh, no; “he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” RH September 16, 1884, par. 3

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” RH September 16, 1884, par. 4

It is God's plan that riches should be used properly, distributed to bless the needy, and to advance the work of God. If men love their riches better than they love their fellow-men, better than they love God or the truths of his word, if their hearts are on their riches, they cannot have eternal life. Some would rather yield the truth than sell and give to the poor. Here souls are proved; and, like the rich young man, many go away sorrowful because they cannot have their riches and a treasure in heaven too. They cannot have both, and they risk their chance of eternal life for a worldly possession. RH September 16, 1884, par. 5

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” “With God all things are possible;” but he will not permit the rich men to selfishly hoard their riches, and yet enter into his kingdom. Truth, set home to the heart by the Spirit of God, will crowd out the love of riches. The love of Jesus and the love of money cannot dwell in the same heart. The love of God so far surpasses the love of money that the possessor breaks away from his riches and transfer his affections to God. Through love he is then led to minister to the wants of the needy and to assist the cause of God. It is his highest pleasure to make a right disposition of his Lord's goods. He holds all that he has as not his own, and faithfully discharges his duty as God's steward. Then he can keep both the great commandments of the law: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” RH September 16, 1884, par. 6

In this way it is possible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” Here is the reward for those who sacrifice for God. They receive a hundred-fold in this life, and shall inherit everlasting life. RH September 16, 1884, par. 7

“But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” Some who receive the truth do not live it. They cling to their possessions, and are not willing to use their means to advance the cause of God. They will not trust God's promises. Their love of this world swallows up their faith. God calls for a portion of their substance, but they heed it not. They reason that they have labored hard to obtain what they have, and they cannot lend it to the Lord, for they may come to want. “O ye of little faith!” That God who cared for Elijah in the time of famine, will not pass by one of his self-sacrificing children. He who has numbered the hairs of their head will care for them, and in days of famine they will be satisfied. While the wicked are perishing from hunger and thirst, their bread and water will be sure. Those who cling to their earthly treasure, and will not make a right disposition of that which is lent them of God, will lose the heavenly treasure, eternal life. RH September 16, 1884, par. 8

There was a time when there were but few who listened to and embraced the truth, and they had not much of this world's goods. Then it was necessary for some to sell their houses and lands, and obtain cheaper, while their means were freely lent to the Lord to publish the truth, and otherwise aid in advancing the cause of God. These self-sacrificing ones endured privations; but if they endure unto the end, great will be their reward. RH September 16, 1884, par. 9

God has been moving upon many hearts. The truth for which a few sacrificed so much has triumphed, and multitudes have laid hold of it. In the providence of God, those who have means have been brought into the truth, that as the work increases the wants of his cause may be met. God does not now call for the houses his people need to live in; but if those who have an abundance do not hear his voice, cut loose from the world, and sacrifice for God, he will pass them by, and will call for those who are willing to do anything for Jesus, even to sell their homes to meet the wants of the cause. God will have free-will offerings. Those who give must esteem it a privilege to do so. RH September 16, 1884, par. 10

Some give of their abundance, yet feel no lack. They do not practice self-denial for the cause of Christ. They give liberally and heartily, but they still have all that heart can wish. God regards it. The action and motive are strictly marked by him, and they will not lose their reward. But those who have less means must not excuse themselves because they cannot do as much as some others. Do what you can. Deny yourself of some article you can do without, and sacrifice for the cause of God. Like the poor widow, cast in your two mites. You will actually give more than all those who give of their abundance; and you will know how sweet it is to deny self, to give to the needy, to sacrifice for the truth, and to lay up treasure in heaven. RH September 16, 1884, par. 11

The young, especially young men, who profess the truth, have yet a lesson of self-denial to learn. If these made more sacrifice for the truth, they would esteem it more highly. It would affect their hearts, and purify their lives. Too often the young do not take the burden of the cause of God, or feel any responsibility in regard to it. Is it because God has excused them? Oh, no; they excuse themselves. They do not realize that they are not their own. Their strength, their time, is not their own. They are bought with a price; and unless they possess the spirit of self-denial and sacrifice, they can never gain the immortal inheritance. RH September 16, 1884, par. 12

Said the great Teacher, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.” RH September 16, 1884, par. 13