The Review and Herald

1102/1902

December 25, 1900

“How Much Owest Thou?”

EGW

This is the holiday season. At this time large sums of money are spent for presents and in needless self-indulgence. Pride, fashion, and luxurious living swallow up immense sums which are worse than thrown away; for this needless use of means encourages prodigal expenditure, and often money is used in ways that injure health and endanger souls. RH December 25, 1900, par. 1

The question should come home to every heart, “How much owest thou unto my Lord?” He has granted us privileges and blessings without number; we are dependent on Him for every earthly favor, even for the breath of life; and now should not the bands of selfishness be broken, and the just claims of God and humanity be acknowledged? RH December 25, 1900, par. 2

God delivered His people Israel from bondage in Egypt. He brought them into their own land, and gave them a goodly heritage and sure dwelling places. And He asked of them a recognition of His marvelous works. The first-fruits of the earth were to be consecrated to Him, and given back as an offering of gratitude, an acknowledgment of His goodness to them. For they said: “When we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labor, and our oppression: and the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: and He hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the first-fruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast given me.” RH December 25, 1900, par. 3

Concerning these offerings the Lord said: “And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God: and thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.” They were to remember “the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.” This was a standing requirement. RH December 25, 1900, par. 4

The Lord calls for gifts and offerings, and He claims the tithe also. He says: “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.” Strictly, honestly, and faithfully, if possible without any failure, the tithe is to be brought to the treasury of God. With it His faithful messengers are to be sustained, as they go out to communicate the light of His word to those who are in darkness. RH December 25, 1900, par. 5

“This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments; thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in His ways, and to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His judgments, and to hearken unto His voice.” This is not the voice of man; it is the voice of Christ from the infolding pillar of cloud. Read carefully all of Deuteronomy 26, also chapters 27 and 28; for here are stated plainly the blessings of obedience. RH December 25, 1900, par. 6

These directions, which the Lord gave to His people, express the principles of the law of the kingdom of God, and they are made specific, so that the minds of the people may not be left in ignorance and uncertainty. These scriptures present the never-ceasing obligation of all whom God has blessed with life and health and advantages in temporal and spiritual things. The message has not grown weak because of age. God's claims are just as binding now, just as fresh in their importance, as God's gifts are fresh and continual. RH December 25, 1900, par. 7

Lest any should forget these important directions, Christ has repeated them with His own voice. He calls His followers to a life of consecration and self-denial. He says: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” This means what it says. Only by self-denial and self-sacrifice can we show that we are true disciples of Christ. RH December 25, 1900, par. 8

While parents are making sacrifices for the sake of advancing the cause of God, they should teach their children also to take part in this work. The children may learn to show their love for Christ by denying themselves needless trifles, for the purchase of which much money slips through their fingers. In every family this work should be done. It requires tact and method, but it will be the best education the children can receive. And if all the little children would present their offerings to the Lord, their gifts would be as little rivulets, which, when united and set flowing, would swell into a river. RH December 25, 1900, par. 9

The Lord looks with pleasure upon the little children who deny themselves that they may make an offering to Him. He was pleased with the widow who put her two mites into the treasury, because she gave with a willing heart. The Saviour thought her sacrifice in giving all that she had of more value than the large gifts of the rich men, who made no sacrifice in order to give. And He is glad when the little ones are willing to deny self that they may become laborers together with Him who loved them, and took them in His arms and blessed them. RH December 25, 1900, par. 10

Christ counted it essential to remind His people that obedience to the commandments of God is for their present and future good. Obedience brings a blessing, disobedience a curse. Besides, when the Lord in a special manner favors his people, He exhorts them publicly to acknowledge His goodness. In this way His name will be glorified; for such an acknowledgment is a testimony that His words are faithful and true. RH December 25, 1900, par. 11

Our offerings are not accepted of God unless they are presented in a spirit of reverence and gratitude. It is the humble, grateful, reverential heart that makes all offerings as a sweet-smelling savor. The children of Israel might have given all their substance; but had it been given in a spirit of self-sufficiency or pharisaism, with the feeling that God was indebted to them, and for this reason had bestowed upon them the favors they had received at His hand, their offerings would have been rejected, utterly contemned of God. RH December 25, 1900, par. 12

Christ has shown the estimate He places upon the human soul by giving himself up to a life of self-denial and pain and to a cruel death. He is soon coming again, and we have but a short time in which to show that we appreciate the redemption that He, with His own blood, has purchased for us and for others. Many lands that have never heard the truth are yet to hear it, and to become vocal with the praise of God. If the Church of God will now use all her talents of means and influence, the work may be carried forward gloriously in these “regions beyond.” RH December 25, 1900, par. 13

Let all at this time consider the question, “How much owest thou unto my Lord?” RH December 25, 1900, par. 14