Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

December 17, 1889

The Duty of Paying Tithes and Offerings

By Mrs. E. G. White

There are many things which should stir the soul to action at this time. We cannot afford to be sluggards now, my brethren. The Lord has the first claim upon all that we have. The means in our possession has been given to us in trust, and we hold it simply as the stewards of God's bounty. Many have made a mistake in withholding from the Lord that which he has plainly specified as his own. The tithe of all that God has blessed you with, belongs to him; and you have robbed God when you have used it for your own enterprises. The Lord has not left the disposal of the tithe to you, to be given or withheld as your inclination may dictate. He has placed the matter beyond all question, and there has been great neglect on the part of many of God's professed people to fulfill the requirements of his word in regard to tithing.

The prophet asks, “Will a man rob God?” as though such a thing could hardly be possible. And the answer is, “Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the store-house, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground: neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.”

Upon what ground may we claim the full and rich promises of God? We can claim them only when we have fulfilled the conditions prescribed in his word. The Lord is constantly giving. He pours down the rain and the sunshine. He promises to give to his people the privilege of eating of the tree of life, and the hidden manna. He holds forth the crown of life, the white stone with the new name written therein. He says, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” God makes man his agent. He places bounties in his hands, not to do with as it suits his natural inclinations, but as shall best serve the cause of God and forward the truth in the earth. If man had co-operated with God as he directed, every part of the work of God would have moved on in perfect order; there would be no empty treasury. God has given to man the use of nine-tenths of his income, but one-tenth, with the addition of gifts and offerings, the Lord has reserved for himself. Have you robbed God in tithes and offerings? What treasure have you been laying up in heaven by giving to the Lord his own? Your hands may be loosening their hold on the things of this world, and while life is still granted you, why not take up your neglected duties, and as God's faithful stewards, bestow your means where it will work for the salvation of souls and the glory of your Redeemer?

Many have waited to devote their means to God's cause until they were laid on their death-bed. They have willed a certain portion of their property to the work of God; but wills are not safe. They are often broken, and the means does not flow into the channel designed by the donor. It is much better to give your means to God while you are in health and strength. A close, selfish spirit seems to prevent men from giving to God his own. The Lord made a special covenant with men, that if they would regularly set apart the portion designated for the advancement of Christ's kingdom, the Lord would bless them abundantly, so that there would not be room to receive his gifts. But if men withhold that which belongs to God, the Lord plainly declares, “Ye are cursed with a curse.”

It is the duty of the elders and officers of the church to instruct the people on this important matter, and to set things in order. As laborers together with God, the officers of the church should be sound upon this plainly revealed question. The ministers themselves should be strict to carry out to the letter the injunctions of God's word. Those who hold positions of trust in the church should not be negligent, but they should see that the members are faithful in performing this duty. When Christ took human nature upon him, he bound humanity to him by a tie of love that can never be broken by any power save the choice of man himself. Through Christ we have the gift of eternal life, if we comply with the stated conditions; but if we are united to Christ, we are also united to humanity. God has a tender and impartial care for all his children. He is mindful of those who are despised and destitute. The Lord has given us the privilege of becoming co-workers with him, that the truth of heavenly origin may be placed within the reach of all, in all countries. Man has been privileged to become an agent to work out, not his own plans, but the plans of Heaven. His ears must be open to hear when God speaks, his heart in a condition to respond to his claims.

There have been special occasions at large gatherings, when appeals have been made to the professed followers of Christ, for the cause of God, and hearts have been stirred, and many have made pledges to sustain the work. But many of those who pledged have not dealt honorably with God. They have been negligent, and have failed to redeem their pledges to their Maker. But if man is so indifferent about his promises to God, can he expect that the Lord will fulfill a promise made on conditions that have never been kept? It is best to deal honestly with your fellow-men and with God. You are dependent upon Christ for every favor you enjoy; you are dependent upon him for the future, immortal life; and you cannot afford to be without respect unto the recompense of reward. Those who realize their dependence upon God, will feel that they must be honest with their fellow-men, and, above all, they must be honest with God, from whom come all the blessings of life. The evasion of the positive commands of God concerning tithes and offerings, is registered in the books of heaven as robbery toward him.

No man who is dishonest with God or with his fellow-men can truly prosper. The most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, says, “Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small; thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small; but thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.” Through the prophet Micah, the Lord again expresses his abhorrence of dishonesty: “Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable? Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins.”

The Lord has bought us with his own precious blood, and it is because of his mercy and grace that we may hope for the great gift of salvation. And we are enjoined to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. Yet the Lord declares, “Ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” When we deal unjustly with our fellow-men or with our God, we despise the authority of God, and ignore the fact that Christ has purchased us with his own life. The world is robbing God upon the wholesale plan. The more he imparts of wealth, the more thoroughly do men claim it as their own, to be used as they shall please. But shall the professed followers of Christ follow the customs of the world? Shall we forfeit peace of conscience, communion with God, and fellowship with our brethren, because we fail to devote to his cause the portion he has claimed as his own? Let those who claim to be Christians, bear in mind that they are trading on the capital intrusted them of God, and that they are required to faithfully follow the directions of the Scriptures in regard to its disposal. If your heart is right with God, you will not embezzle your Lord's goods, and invest them in your own selfish enterprises. If you are faithful servants of Jesus, you will not rob God yourselves, or connive at those who do it. You will not be men-pleasers, world-servers. You will make your Lord's interest your interest.

Brethren and sisters, if the Lord has blessed you with means, do not look upon it as your own. Regard it as yours in trust for God, and be true and honest in paying tithes and offerings. When a pledge is made by you, be sure that God expects you to pay as promptly as possible. Do not promise a portion to the Lord, and then appropriate it to your own use, lest your prayers become an abomination unto him. It is the neglect of these plainly revealed duties that brings darkness upon the church. Let the elders and officers of the church follow the direction of the sacred word, and urge upon their members the necessity of faithfulness in the payment of pledges, tithes, and offerings.

December 17, 1889

Christmas Address to the Young

The 25th of December has long been commemorated as the day of Jesus’ birth, and in this article it is not my purpose to affirm or question the propriety of celebrating this event on this day, but to dwell upon the childhood and life of our Saviour. It is my purpose to call the attention of the children to the humble manner in which the Redeemer came to the world. All heaven was interested in the great event of Christ's advent to earth. Heavenly messengers came to make known the birth of the long-promised, long-expected Saviour to the humble shepherds who were watching their flocks by night on the plains of Bethlehem. The first manifestation that attracted the notice of the shepherds at the birth of the Saviour, was a radiant light in the starry heavens, which filled them with wonder and admiration. “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Dear children, shall not these precious words, coming from the lips of heavenly angels, find a response in our hearts? Shall they not awaken gladness and melody in the soul because Jesus has come to our world to bring back to God those who through sin were estranged from him? If the angels of heaven glorified God, and poured forth their joy in divine melody and sacred song over the plains of Bethlehem, shall our hearts be cold and unimpressible? Shall we with indifference turn from the salvation brought to light through Christ?

The astonished shepherds could scarcely comprehend the precious message borne to them by the angels, and when the radiant light had passed away, they said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”

They were filled with joy; they could not keep to themselves the precious knowledge of the advent of the Redeemer, but with glad enthusiasm they told to all whom they met the wonderful things they had seen and heard; and all who heard them, related the wonderful experience of the shepherds to the others, and many wondered and rejoiced, for they believed the words that had been spoken by the heavenly messengers. Glorifying and praising God, the shepherds returned to their flocks on the plains of Bethlehem.

All heaven was moved on the occasion of the Saviour's birth. The triumphant song which the shepherds heard was only an echo of the praise resounding round the throne on high. The whole angelic host rejoiced and sung praises because salvation was presented as a free gift to fallen man. After the proclamation song to the shepherds, the heavenly multitude veiled their faces from human sight, the flood of heavenly light passed away, the thrilling song of praise was no longer heard by the shepherds; but the remembrance of that song could never die out of their hearts. O, what reason have we to praise God that this wonderful revelation from heaven was made to humble men! It is not those who occupy high positions, who hold most honored places in the world, who are selected as bearers of God's message of peace and salvation, which is of the greatest interest to fallen men. The Lord has said, “Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”

Those who love God should feel deeply interested in the children and youth. To them God can reveal his truth and salvation. Jesus calls the little ones that believe on him the lambs of his flock. He has a special love for and interest in the children. Jesus has said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me [let no one place any obstruction in the way of the children's coming to me]; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus has passed through the trials and griefs to which childhood is subject. He knows the sorrows of the young. By his Holy Spirit, he is drawing the hearts of the children to himself, while Satan is working to keep them away from him. The most precious offering that the children can give to Jesus, is the freshness of their childhood. When children seek the Lord with the whole heart, he will be found of them. It is in these early years that the affections are the most ardent, the heart most susceptible of improvement. Everything that is seen and heard makes an impression on the youthful mind. The countenances looked upon, the words uttered, the actions performed, are not the least of the books the young read; for they have a decided influence upon the mind, heart, and character. Then how important it is that the children come to Jesus in their earliest years, and become lambs of his flock! How important it is that the older members of the church, by precept and example, lead them to Jesus, who taketh away the sin of the world, and who can keep them by his divine grace from the ruin it works. The better acquainted they become with Jesus, the more they will love him, and be able to do those things that are pleasing in his sight. God has sanctified childhood in that he gave his only begotten Son to become a child on earth.

What matchless love Jesus has manifested for a fallen world! If angels sung because the Saviour was born in Bethlehem, shall not our hearts echo the glad strain, Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men? Although we do not know the exact day of Christ's birth, we would honor the sacred event. May the Lord forbid that any one should be so narrow-minded as to over-look the event because there is an uncertainty in regard to the exact time. Let us do what we can to fasten the minds of the children upon those things which are precious to every one who loves Jesus. Let us teach them how Jesus came into the world to bring hope, comfort, peace, and happiness to all. The angels explained the reason of their great joy, saying, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Then, children and youth, as you celebrate the coming Christmas, will you not count up the many things for which you are to be grateful, and will you not present a gratitude offering to Christ, and so reveal that you do appreciate the heavenly Gift?

The angels were amazed at the great love of Christ that led him to suffer and die on Calvary to rescue man from the power of Satan. The work of redemption is a marvel to the angels of heaven. Why, then, are we, for whom so great a salvation has been provided, so indifferent, so cold and unloving? Children, you can do errands for Jesus which will be wholly acceptable to him. You can bring your little gifts and offerings to Christ. The wise men who were guided by the star to the place where the young child was, brought offerings of gold and frankincense and myrrh. When they found the Promised One, they worshiped him. Children, you may ask, “What gifts can we bring to Jesus?” You can give him your hearts. What offering is so sacred as the soul temple cleansed from its defilement of sin? Jesus stands knocking at the door of your hearts; will you let him in? He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Will you let Jesus into your hearts? Will you clear away the rubbish, and throw open the door, and willingly, gladly welcome in your heavenly guest? I shall not need to plead with you to bring you thank- offerings to God if you will but let the Saviour in. You will be so grateful, that you cannot be restrained from laying your gifts at the feet of Jesus. Let the hearts of all respond with exceeding joy for the priceless gift of the Son of God.

Mrs. E. G. White

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