The Review and Herald


June 23, 1885

The Influence of Worldliness


Many of the people of God are stupefied by the spirit of the world, and are denying their faith by their works. They cultivate a love for money, for houses and lands, until it absorbs the powers of mind and being, and shuts out love for the Creator and for souls for whom Christ died. The god of this world has blinded their eyes; their eternal interests are made secondary; and brain, bone, and muscle are taxed to the utmost to increase their worldly possessions. And all this accumulation of cares and burdens is borne in direct violation of the injunction of Christ, who said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” They forget that he said also, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven;” that in so doing they are working for their own interest. The treasure laid up in heaven is safe; no thief can approach nor moth corrupt it. But their treasure is upon the earth, and their affections are upon their treasure. In the wilderness, Christ met the great leading temptations that would assail man. There, single-handed, he encountered the wily, subtle foe, and overcame him. The first great temptation was upon appetite; the second, presumption; the third, love of the world. The thrones and kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, were offered to Christ. Satan came with worldly honor, wealth, and the pleasures of life, and presented them in the most attractive light to allure and deceive. “All these things,” said he to Christ, “will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Yet Christ repelled the wily foe, and came off victor. RH June 23, 1885, par. 1

Man will never be tried by temptations as powerful as those which assailed Christ; yet Satan has better success in approaching him. “All this money, this gain, this land, this power, these honors and riches, will I give thee”—for what? The condition is seldom as plainly stated as it was to Christ,—“If thou wilt fall down and worship me.” He is content to require that integrity shall be yielded, conscience blunted. Through devotion to worldly interests he receives all the homage he asks. The door is left open for him to enter as he pleases, with his evil train of impatience, love of self, pride, avarice, and dishonesty. Man is charmed, and treacherously allured on to ruin. RH June 23, 1885, par. 2

The example of Christ is before us. He overcame Satan, showing us how we also may overcome. Christ resisted Satan with Scripture. He might have had recourse to his own divine power, and used his own words; but he said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” If the sacred Scriptures were studied and followed, the Christian would be fortified to meet the wily foe; but the word of God is neglected, and disaster and defeat follow. RH June 23, 1885, par. 3

A young man came to Christ, and said, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Jesus bade him keep the commandments. He replied, “All these things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?” Jesus looked with love upon the young man, and faithfully pointed out to him his deficiency in keeping the divine law. He did not love his neighbor as himself. His selfish love of riches was a defect, which, if not remedied, would debar him from heaven. “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.” RH June 23, 1885, par. 4

Christ would have the young man understand that he required nothing of him more than to follow the example that he himself, the Lord of heaven, had set. He left his riches and glory, and became poor, that man, through his poverty, might be made rich; and for the sake of these riches, he requires man to yield earthly wealth, honor, and pleasure. He knows that while the affections are upon the world, they will be withdrawn from God; therefore he said to the young man, “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.” How did he receive the words of Christ? Was he rejoiced that he could secure the heavenly treasure? Oh, no! “He went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.” To him riches were honor and power; and the great amount of his treasure made such a disposal of it seem almost an impossibility. RH June 23, 1885, par. 5

This world-loving man desired heaven; but he wanted to retain his wealth, and he renounced immortal life for the love of money and power. Oh, what a miserable exchange! Yet many who profess to be keeping all the commandments of God are doing the same thing. RH June 23, 1885, par. 6

Here is the danger of riches to the avaricious man; the more he gains, the harder it is for him to be generous. To diminish his wealth is like parting with his life; and he turns from the attractions of the immortal reward, in order to retain and increase his earthly possessions. Had he kept the commandments, his worldly possessions would not have been so great. How could he, while plotting and striving for self, love God with all his heart, and with all his mind, and with all his strength, and his neighbor as himself? Had he distributed to the necessities of the poor as their wants demanded, he would have been far happier, and would have had greater heavenly treasure, and less of earth upon which to place his affections. RH June 23, 1885, par. 7

Christ has committed to each of us talents of means and of influence; and when he shall come to reckon with his servants, and all are called to the strictest account as to the use made of the talents intrusted to them, how will you, my brother, my sister, bear the investigation? Will you be prepared to return to the Master his talents doubled, laying before him both principal and interest, thus showing that you have been a judicious as well as faithful and persevering worker in his service? All will be rewarded in exact proportion to the fidelity, perseverance, and earnest effort made in trading with their Lord's goods; but the cases of many will be represented by the servant who wrapped his talent in a napkin, and buried it in the earth, that is, hid it in the world. RH June 23, 1885, par. 8

God holds you as his debtor, and also as debtor to your fellow-men who have not the light of present truth. He has given you light, not to be hidden under a bushel, but to be set on a candlestick that all in the house may be benefited. Your light should shine to enlighten souls for whom Christ died. The grace of God ruling in your heart, and bringing your mind and thoughts into subjection to Jesus, would make you a power on the side of Christ and the truth. RH June 23, 1885, par. 9

Said Paul, “I am debtor both to the Greeks and the Barbarians, both to the wise and the unwise.” God had revealed his truth to Paul, and in so doing had made him a debtor to those who were in darkness to enlighten them. But many do not realize their accountability to God. They are handling their Lord's talents; they have powers of mind, that, if employed in the right direction, would make them co-workers with Christ and his angels. Many souls might be saved through their efforts, to shine as stars in the crown of their rejoicing. But they are indifferent to all this. Satan has sought, through the attractions of this world, to enchain them and paralyze their moral powers, and he has succeeded only too well. RH June 23, 1885, par. 10

How can houses and lands compare in value with precious souls for whom Christ died? Through your instrumentality, dear brethren and sisters, these souls may be saved with you in the kingdom of glory; but you cannot take with you there the smallest portion of your earthly treasure. Acquire what you may, preserve it with all the jealous care you are capable of exercising, and yet the mandate may go forth from the Lord, and in a few hours a fire which no skill can quench, may destroy the accumulations of your entire life, and lay them a mass of smouldering ruins. You may devote all your talent and energy to laying up treasures on earth; but what will they advantage you when your life closes or Jesus makes his appearance? Just as much as you have been exalted here by worldly honors and riches to the neglect of spiritual life, just so much lower will you sink in moral worth before the tribunal of the great Judge. “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.” RH June 23, 1885, par. 11

The wrath of God will fall upon those who have served mammon instead of their Creator. But those who live for God and heaven, pointing out the way of life to others, will find that the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. And they will hear by and by the welcome invitation, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” The joy of Christ was that of seeing souls saved in his glorious kingdom; and for this joy he “endured the cross, despising the shame.” But soon “he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” How happy will those be, who, having shared in his work, are permitted to share in his joy! RH June 23, 1885, par. 12