The Review and Herald

456/1902

September 18, 1888

A Lesson of Faith

EGW

In his sermon on the mount, Christ taught his disciples precious lessons in regard to the necessity of trusting in God. These lessons were designed to encourage the children of God through all ages, and they have come down to our time full of instruction and comfort. The divine Teacher said to his followers: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, what shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we be clothed?” RH September 18, 1888, par. 1

The Saviour pointed his followers to the birds of the air, as they warbled their carols of praise, unencumbered with thoughts of care; for “they sow not, neither do they reap,” and yet the great Father provides for their needs. He asks, “Are ye not much better than they?” Those who profess to be the children of God dishonor their Heavenly Father when they manifest unbelief. The great Provider for man and beast opens his hand, and supplies all his creatures. The birds of the air are not beneath his notice. He does not drop the food into their bills, but he makes provision for their needs. They must exert themselves to gather the grains he has scattered for them. They must prepare the material for their little nests. They must feed their young. They go forth singing, to their labor; for “your Heavenly Father feedeth them.” “Are ye not much better than they?” Are not ye, as intelligent, spiritual worshipers, of more value than the fowls of the air? Will not the Author of man's being, the Preserver of his life, the One who formed him in his own divine image, provide for his necessities, if he but trust in him? RH September 18, 1888, par. 2

Christ pointed his disciples to the flowers of the field, growing in rich profusion, and glowing in the simple loveliness which the Heavenly Father had given them, as an expression of his love to man. He exclaimed, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.” The beauty and simplicity of these natural flowers far outrivaled the splendor of Solomon. The most gorgeous attire produced by the skill of art, cannot bear comparison with the natural grace and radiant beauty of the flowers of God's creation. And yet they are cut down in a day. Jesus asked, “If God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith.” RH September 18, 1888, par. 3

If God, the divine artist, gives to the simple flowers, that perish in a day, their delicate and varied colors, how much greater care will he have for those who are created in his own image? He gave his only begotten Son to come to earth and redeem man, because he loved him; “and he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” God is our Creator, and we are the work of his hands. He formed man out of the dust of the ground, and he sustains him from moment to moment, and from hour to hour. “In him we live, and move, and have our being.” RH September 18, 1888, par. 4

While men should see that no bounty of providence is needlessly wasted, a parsimonious, acquisitive spirit will have to be overcome. This disposition will lead to overreaching and unjust dealing, which is an abhorrence in the sight of God. Christians should not allow themselves to be troubled with anxious care as to the necessities of life. If men love and obey God, and do their part, God will provide for all their wants. Although your living may have to be obtained by the sweat of your brow, you are not to distrust God; for in the great plan of his providence, he will supply your need from day to day. This lesson of Christ's is a rebuke to the anxious thoughts, the perplexities and doubts, of the faithless heart. No man can add one cubit to his stature, no matter how solicitous he may be to do so. It is no less unreasonable to be troubled about the morrow and its needs. Do your duty, and trust in God; for he knows of what things you have need. RH September 18, 1888, par. 5

The power of God is manifested in the beating of the heart, in the action of the lungs, and in the living currents that circulate through the thousand different channels of the body. We are indebted to him for every moment of existence, and for all the comforts of life. The powers and abilities that elevate man above the lower creation, are the endowment of the Creator. He loads us with his benefits. We are indebted to him for the food we eat, the water we drink, the clothes, we wear, the air we breathe. Without his special providence, the air would be filled with pestilence and poison. He is a bountiful benefactor and preserver. The sun which shines upon the earth, and glorifies all nature, the weird, solemn radiance of the moon, the glories of the firmament, spangled with brilliant stars, the showers that refresh the land, and cause vegetation to flourish, the precious things of nature in all their varied richness, the lofty trees, the shrubs and plants, the waving grain, the blue sky, the green earth, the changes of day and night, the renewing seasons, all speak to man of his Creator's love. He has linked us to himself by all these tokens in heaven and in earth. He watches over us with more tenderness than does a mother over an afflicted child. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” RH September 18, 1888, par. 6

We are bound to the Lord by the strongest ties, and the manifestation of our Father's love should call forth the most filial affection and the most ardent gratitude. The laws of God have their foundation in the most immutable rectitude, and are so framed that they will promote the happiness of those who keep them. God is our master; we are his servants, and all his commandments are mercy and truth. God is a friend in perplexity and affliction, a protector in distress, a preserver in the thousand dangers that are all unseen to us. He is our instructor, and in him is the source of all wisdom. He has declared, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” He is our God, and he spared not his own Son, that we might be redeemed from all iniquity. RH September 18, 1888, par. 7

In the lesson of faith that Christ taught on the mount, are revealed the principles of true religion. Religion brings man into personal relation with God, but not exclusively; for the principles of heaven are to be lived out, that they may help and bless humanity. A true child of God will love him with all his heart, and his neighbor as himself. He will have an interest for his fellow-men. True religion is the work of grace upon the heart, that causes the life to flow out in good works, like a fountain fed from living streams. Religion does not consist merely in meditation and prayer. The Christian's light is displayed in good works, and is thus recognized by others. Religion is not to be divorced from the business life. It is to pervade and sanctify its engagements and enterprises. If a man is truly connected with God and heaven, the spirit that dwells in heaven will influence all his words and actions. He will glorify God in his works, and will lead others to honor him. RH September 18, 1888, par. 8

While the shepherds were watching their flocks on the hills of Bethlehem, the angels of heaven visited them; and while the humble worker for God is pursuing his employment, they stand by his side to note in what manner the work is done, and to see if larger responsibilities may be safely intrusted to his hands. If the work is slighted, the fact is recorded. Every act of overreaching, every wrong done to our neighbor, every imperfection, is registered against them in the books of heaven. RH September 18, 1888, par. 9

As we deal with our fellow-men in petty dishonesty, or in more daring fraud, so will we deal with God. Men who persist in a course of dishonesty will carry out their principles until they cheat their own souls, and lose heaven and eternal life. They will sacrifice honor and religion for a small worldly advantage. There are such men right in our own ranks, and they will have to experience what it is to be born again, or they cannot see the kingdom of God. Honesty should stamp every action of our lives. Heavenly angels examine the work that is put into our hands; and where there has been a departure from the principles of truth, “wanting” is written in the records. RH September 18, 1888, par. 10

Says Jesus, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” Treasures are those things which engross the mind, and absorb the attention, to the exclusion of God and the truth. The love of money, which prompts the acquisition of earthly treasure, was the ruling passion in the Jewish age. High and eternal considerations were made subordinate to the considerations of securing earthly wealth and influence. Worldliness usurped the place of God and religion in the soul. Avaricious greed for wealth exerted such a fascinating, bewitching influence over the life, that it resulted in perverting the nobility, and corrupting the humanity of men, until they were drowned in perdition. Our Saviour gave a decided warning against hoarding up the treasures of earth. RH September 18, 1888, par. 11

All branches of business, all manner of employments, are under the eye of God; and every Christian has been given ability to do something in the cause of the Master. Whether engaged in business in the field, in the warehouse, or in the counting-room, men will be held responsible to God for the wise and honest employment of their talents. They are just as accountable to God for their work, as the minister who labors in word and doctrine is for his. If men acquire property in a manner that is not approved by the word of God, they obtain it at a sacrifice of the principles of honesty. An inordinate desire for gain will lead even the professed followers of Christ into imitation of the customs of the world. They will be influenced to dishonor their religion, by overreaching in trade, oppressing the widow and the orphan, and turning away the stranger from his right. RH September 18, 1888, par. 12

Property that is treasured up upon the earth will prove only a curse, but if it is devoted to the upbuilding of the cause of truth, that God may be honored, and that souls may be saved, it will not prove a curse, but a blessing. Means are necessary to the furtherance of every good cause; and as some men have been endowed with more ability to acquire wealth than have others, they should put out their talents to the exchangers, that the Lord may receive his own, with usury, at his appearing. But no man can be justified before God in doing one act that is covetous and dishonest, in order to gain any amount of wealth. There is, however, a large class who do not deal dishonestly, and who still profess to be followers of the dear Redeemer. They claim to be representatives of Christ, but, in character, they represent the worst and greatest enemy of our Lord. RH September 18, 1888, par. 13

If the Christian world had sacredly cherished the instruction of Christ, and had heeded his injunction, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,” how different would be the condition of the world at the present time. Avarice, extortion, and crime, are fast turning the earth into a second Sodom, and preparing it for the avenging wrath of God. Jesus foresaw all this, and wished to save his followers from the insane passion of making haste to be rich, of hoarding up wealth, and he said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth.” RH September 18, 1888, par. 14

Those who acquire means for the purpose of doing good, feeling while they use it, that they are only stewards to whom it has been intrusted, are not endangering their salvation. God will, through his providence, open ways whereby his cause may be sustained, and souls may be saved. Those who are ready and willing to invest in the cause of God, will be blessed in their efforts to acquire money. God created the source of wealth. He gave the sunshine, and the dew, and the rain, and caused vegetation to flourish. He blessed men with mental and physical ability, and qualified them to acquire property, so that his cause might be sustained by his professed children. The needy are all around us, and God is glorified, when the poor and the afflicted are aided and comforted. It is no sin to acquire and control property as stewards for God, holding it only until he shall require it for the necessities of his work. RH September 18, 1888, par. 15

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Here is portrayed the value of eternal riches, in contrast with the treasures of earth. If the purpose and aim of your life is to lay up treasure in heaven, you will be lifted above the base, sordid, demoralizing influence of an inordinate desire to obtain wealth in this life. Laying up treasure in heaven will give nobility to the character; it will strengthen benevolence, encourage mercy; cultivate sympathy, brotherly kindness, and charity. It will unite the soul of man with Christ, by links that can never be broken. You may lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven by being rich in good works,—rich in imperishable and spiritual things. RH September 18, 1888, par. 16

The instruction is to “lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven.” It is for our own interest, that we secure heavenly riches. God is not benefited by our benevolence. The cattle upon a thousand hills are his. “The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.” But in using the gifts that he has intrusted to our care for the salvation of souls, we transfer our wealth to the treasury of heaven. When we are seeking the glory of God, and hasting unto the day of God, we are co-laborers with Christ, and our joy is not a base and fleeting emotion; but it is the joy of our Lord. We are elevated above the corroding, perplexing cares of this frail fickle world. RH September 18, 1888, par. 17

While we are in this world, we are subject to losses and disappointments. Thieves break through and steal; moth and rust corrupt; fire and storm sweep away our possessions. How many have become insane over the loss of their bank deposits, or their failure in business! How many have devoted life and soul to acquiring wealth, but were not rich toward God; and when adversity came upon them, and their possessions were swept away, they had nothing laid up in heaven. They had lost all,—both temporal and eternal riches. In despair and cowardice, they have taken their own lives, and put an end to the opportunities and privileges that had been purchased for them at an infinite cost to the Son of God. He died, that their souls might be redeemed, elevated, ennobled, cleansed by his blood, and fitted for an immortal life. But all was lost because they persisted in laying up for themselves treasures upon earth. Everything that is laid up upon earth may be swept away in a moment; but nothing can disturb the treasure that is laid up in heaven. RH September 18, 1888, par. 18

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” If the physical and mental organs are in a healthy condition, and the man is equally balanced, his judgment will be sound. With a discerning eye, he will be enabled to see the value of heavenly and eternal things. If the eye of the mind beholds the excellence of the mystery of godliness, the advantage of spiritual riches over worldly riches, the whole body will be full of light. If the imagination is perverted by the fascination of earthly pomp and splendor, until gain seems godliness, the whole body will be full of darkness. When the powers of the mind are concentrated upon the treasures of earth, they are debased and belittled. The Saviour makes more plain the results of covetousness on heart and soul, when he calls the condition of such a person “darkness.” When the eye is blinded by desires for worldly treasure, the value of eternal treasure cannot be discerned. It was this fearful darkness that wrapped the Jews in stubborn unbelief, making it impossible for them to appreciate the character and mission of Him who came to save them from their sins. Worldly riches, bigotry, and pride made their eye evil, and they could see nothing in the Redeemer of the world that was desirable, because they were filled with darkness and unbelief. Virtue can never be related to avarice; self-indulgence, love of luxury, and greed of gain, can never be united with supreme love of God; but “if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” RH September 18, 1888, par. 19