The Review and Herald

341/1902

February 9, 1886

Christian Beneficence

EGW

“Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase. So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” RH February 9, 1886, par. 1

“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” RH February 9, 1886, par. 2

God is able to fulfill his promises. His resources are infinite, and he employs them all in accomplishing his will. Yet all his promises are based upon conditions, and it is only by complying with these that we can hope to gain the proffered blessing. God has intrusted of his bounties to every man, in varying measure, according to the capacity of each. These gifts of Providence are to be wisely employed in the service of the Giver, and to be returned with interest at the day of reckoning. Those who prove themselves good stewards, will receive in greater measure as they disperse their means to advance God's cause and to bless suffering humanity. RH February 9, 1886, par. 3

Our heavenly Father has been pleased to make men co-laborers with himself in the work of human redemption. Those who have been commissioned to preach the gospel are not the only ones whom he will use as his instruments. All whose minds have been illuminated by the Holy Spirit will in their turn be required to enlighten others. “None of us liveth to himself.” Every individual has his station of duty in the accomplishment of God's great plan. And every one who receives and obeys the light which God has given, will be a living witness for Christ and the truth. RH February 9, 1886, par. 4

The children of God will not be like the world, enshrouded in moral darkness, loving themselves, and seeking for earthly treasure. They will be a “peculiar people, zealous of good works.” It will require self-denial and self-sacrifice to imitate the pattern of Christ Jesus. In order to be like him we must cultivate a spirit of beneficence. The first great principle of God's law is supreme love to the Creator; the second, equal love to our neighbor. “On these two commandments,” said Christ, “hang all the law and the prophets.” RH February 9, 1886, par. 5

Experience shows that a spirit of benevolence is more often to be found with those of limited means than among the more wealthy. The most liberal donations for the cause of God or the relief of the needy, come from the poor man's purse, while many to whom the Lord has committed an abundance for this very purpose, see not the necessity for means to advance the truth, and hear not the cries of the poor among them. RH February 9, 1886, par. 6

Yet many who greatly desire riches would be ruined by their possession. When such persons are intrusted with talents of means, they too often hoard or waste the Lord's money, until the Master says to them individually, “Thou shalt be no longer steward.” They dishonestly use that which is another's as though it were their own. God will not intrust them with eternal riches. RH February 9, 1886, par. 7

The cry of souls that have been left in darkness, and the cry of the widow and the fatherless, go up to heaven as a swift witness against the unfaithful stewards. The poor man's gift, the fruit of self-denial to extend the precious light of truth, is as fragrant incense before God. And every act of self-sacrifice for the good of others will strengthen the spirit of beneficence in the giver's heart, allying him more closely to the Redeemer of the world, “who was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich.” RH February 9, 1886, par. 8

The smallest sum given cheerfully as the result of self-denial is of more value in God's sight than the offerings of those who could give thousands and yet feel no lack. The poor widow who cast two mites into the treasury of the Lord, showed love, faith, and benevolence. She gave all that she had, trusting to God's care for the uncertain future. Her little gift was pronounced by our Saviour the greatest that day cast into the treasury. Its value was measured, not by the worth of the coin, but by the purity of the motive which prompted her sacrifice. RH February 9, 1886, par. 9

God's blessing upon that sincere offering has made it the source of great results. The widow's mite has been like a tiny stream flowing down through the ages, widening and deepening in its course, and contributing in a thousand directions to the extension of the truth and the relief of the needy. The influence of that small gift has acted and reacted upon thousands of hearts in every age and in every country upon the globe. As the result, unnumbered gifts have flowed into the treasury of the Lord from the liberal, self-denying poor. And again, her example has stimulated to good works thousands of ease-loving, selfish, and doubting ones, and their gifts also have gone to swell the value of her offering. RH February 9, 1886, par. 10

Liberality is a duty on no account to be neglected; but let not rich or poor for a moment entertain the thought that their offerings to God can atone for their defects of Christian character. Says the great apostle, “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” RH February 9, 1886, par. 11

Again, he sets forth the fruits of true charity: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.” If we would be accepted as the followers of Christ, we must bring forth the fruits of his Spirit; for our Saviour himself declares, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” RH February 9, 1886, par. 12

It is to cultivate a spirit of benevolence in us that the Lord calls for our gifts and offerings. He is not dependent upon men for means to sustain his cause. He declares, by the prophet, “Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.” RH February 9, 1886, par. 13

These words were spoken as a reproof to Israel, who did not cherish the love of God in their heart, yet were increasing the number of their sacrifices, as if they would make a compromise with the Lord. Gifts and offerings will not purchase salvation for any of us. The religion of the Bible is that development of our moral nature by which the soul learns to love what God loves and to hate what God hates. The Lord will not accept our offerings, if we withhold ourselves. He asks for that which is his own,—not only the means intrusted to us, but all that we have and are, in body, soul, and spirit; for all has been purchased at the infinite price of the blood of Christ. RH February 9, 1886, par. 14

God might have made angels the ambassadors of his truth. He might have made known his will, as he proclaimed the law from Sinai, with his own voice. But he has chosen to employ men to do this work. And it is only as we fulfill the divine purpose in our creation, that life can be a blessing to us. All the riches intrusted to man will prove only a curse, unless he employs them to relieve his own daily wants and the wants of the needy around him, and to glorify God by advancing his cause in the earth. RH February 9, 1886, par. 15

The Majesty of heaven-yielded up his high command, his glory with the Father, and even his own life, to save us. And now what will we do for him? God forbid that his professed children should live for themselves! There is work to be done for the Master, by our means and by our influence. God's claim underlies every other. The first and best of everything rightfully belongs to him. When Christ shall come in the clouds of heaven, he will have no use for the money which he has intrusted to us. It is in this life that he requires all our talents to be put out to the exchangers. In this life he calls upon us to bring all the tithes into the store-house, and thus prove him and see if he will not pour us out a blessing. This proposition is made by the Lord of hosts. Shall we comply with the conditions and thus secure the promised blessing? RH February 9, 1886, par. 16

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” There has been a fearful withholding from God, and as a result the withdrawal of his special blessing. My brethren and sisters, I entreat you to look carefully to this matter; learn where you have robbed the Lord in tithes and offerings. Let not the record stand against you in the books of heaven. Repent, and show your repentance by your works. Make up the deficiencies without delay. RH February 9, 1886, par. 17

We should not look upon the tithe as the limit of our liberality. The Jews were required to bring to God numerous offerings besides the tithe; and shall not we, who enjoy the blessings of the gospel, do as much to sustain God's cause as was done in the former, less-favored dispensation? As the work for this time is extending in the earth, the calls for help are constantly increasing. And in view of this the Lord commands us, “Bring ye all the tithes into the store-house, that there may be meat in mine house;” that is, a surplus of means in the treasury, to amply sustain the work of God in its various branches. RH February 9, 1886, par. 18

As we are continually receiving the blessings of God, so are we to be continually giving. When the heavenly Benefactor ceases to give to us, then we may be excused; for we shall have nothing to bestow. God has never left us without evidence of his love, in that he did us good. He gives us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, providing us abundantly with his bounties, and filling our hearts with gladness. He has declared that “while the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” RH February 9, 1886, par. 19

We are sustained every moment by God's care, and upheld by his power. He spreads our tables with food. He gives us peaceful and refreshing sleep. Weekly he brings to us the Sabbath, that we may rest from our temporal labors, and worship him in his own house. He has given us his word to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. In its sacred pages we find the counsels of wisdom; and as oft as we lift our hearts to him in penitence and faith, he grants us the blessings of his grace. Above all else is the infinite gift of God's dear Son, through whom flow all other blessings for this life and for the life to come. RH February 9, 1886, par. 20

Surely goodness and mercy attend us at every step. Not till we wish the infinite Father to cease bestowing his gifts on us, should we impatiently exclaim, Is there no end of giving? Not only should we faithfully render to God our tithes, which he claims as his own, but we should bring a tribute to his treasury as an offering of gratitude. Let us with joyful hearts bring to our Creator the first-fruits of all his bounties,—our choicest possessions, our best and holiest service. RH February 9, 1886, par. 21