Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

November 13, 1894

Present Unto the Lord Gifts of Gratitude

By Mrs. E. G. White

The Lord sends his blessing and manifests his love to the children of men. “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” and yet how rarely is the Lord thanked, how seldom is his praise upon human lips! How few are found to testify to his loving-kindness, and to acknowledge his mercies to the children of men! How many families fail to retain God in their knowledge! The blessings of the Lord surround parents and children, and they are provided with temporal necessities, yet they do not accept them as gifts in trust, nor do they regard themselves as stewards of the grace of Christ. They do not respond to God's liberality, and return to the Lord a portion of his intrusted goods in tithes, gifts, and offerings, thus acknowledging their dependence upon God, and manifesting gratitude for his wonderful mercies toward them. Every earthly wish may be gratified, and yet men pass on as did the ungrateful lepers who had been cleansed and healed of their obnoxious disease. These lepers had been restored to health by Christ, and the parts that had been destroyed by the disease were recreated; but only one, on finding himself made whole, returned to give God glory, and Christ asked, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?”

Why does not every converted soul speak forth the praise of God? Why is it that the recipients of God's continual favors do not give more ready expression to their gratitude? Why is it that the heart is not pure, and filled with thankfulness to God? David says: “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” “Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; ... worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” “I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee; I will sing praise to thy name, O thou Most High.” “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.” “Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth; the generation of the upright shall be blessed.”

We are under obligation, because of the relation in which we stand to God and to one another, to display the grace of God for the salvation that has been brought within our reach at infinite cost. God has given his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. He has given the Holy Spirit to enlighten, renew, and sanctify the soul, and this should call forth thanksgiving and praise from every human heart. Children and youth should be educated to make God first in their thoughts, and thus a revenue of gifts and offerings, like little rivulets, would flow into the treasury of the Lord. But parents have failed to educate their children to act in an unselfish way, and have co-operated with the enemy in educating them according to a false standard. All Heaven is looking upon our churches, upon parents and children, and asking, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?”

The lesson which is recorded concerning the ten lepers should awaken in every heart a most earnest desire to change the existing order of ingratitude into one of praise and thanksgiving. Let the professed people of God stop murmuring and complaining. Let us remember who is the first great Giver of all our blessings. We are fed and clothed, and sustained in life, and should we not educate ourselves and our children to respond with gratitude to our heavenly Father, by giving gifts and offerings for the support of his cause? Christ has commanded his disciples, saying, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” But how is this work to be accomplished?—It is to be done through the co-operation of human agencies with heavenly intelligences. We are to be earnest laborers together with God. Parents are to bring up and educate and train their children in habits of self-control and self-denial. They are ever to keep before them their obligation to obey the word of God and to live for the purpose of serving Jesus. They are to educate their children that there is need of living in accordance with simple habits in their daily life, and to avoid expensive dress, expensive diet, expensive houses, and expensive furniture. The terms upon which eternal life will be ours are set forth in these words, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, ... and thy neighbor as thyself.”

Parents have not taught their children the precepts of the law as God has commanded them. They have educated them in selfish habits. They have taught them to regard their birthdays and holidays as occasions when they expect to receive gifts, and to follow the habits and customs of the world. These occasions, which should serve to increase the knowledge of God and to awaken thankfulness of heart for his mercy and love in preserving their lives for another year, are turned into occasions for self-pleasing, for the gratification and glorification of the children. They have been kept by the power of God through every moment of their life, and yet parents do not teach their children to think of this, and to express thanksgiving for his mercy toward them. If children and youth had been properly instructed in this age of the world, what honor, what praise and thanksgiving, would flow from their lips to God! What a revenue of small gifts would be brought from the hands of the little ones to be put into his treasury as thank-offerings! God would be remembered instead of forgotten.

Not only on birthdays should parents and children remember the mercies of the Lord in a special way, but Christmas and New Year's should also be seasons when every household should remember their Creator and Redeemer. Instead of bestowing gifts and offerings in such abundance on human objects, reverence, honor, and gratitude should be rendered to God, and gifts and offerings should be caused to flow in the divine channel. Would not the Lord be pleased with such a remembrance of him? O how God has been forgotten on these occasions. At the very time when his loving-kindness should be remembered, his mercy has been ignored. The lesson of the ungrateful lepers should not be in vain to us. “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” Shall only one in ten who are receiving the rich benefits of the Lord, return to bow at his feet and to give praise for his mercies? Shall presents be purchased, and money be expended for unnecessary things, and no wisdom be manifested in the outlay of God's intrusted means? Will parents come out from the world and be separate from its customs? Let them obey the injunction of God, and put forth judicious labor properly to train and educate the young in true knowledge and wisdom. Those men were called wise men who came from the far East to Jerusalem, led by a star in the heavens, to offer gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and gold to the infant Saviour. “Lo, the star, which they saw in the East, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother.” Although Christ was the Majesty of heaven, he was born in poverty, and his cradle was a manger. But when the wise men “had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”

When you have a holiday, make it a pleasant and happy day for your children, and make it also a pleasant day for the poor and the afflicted. Do not let the day pass without bringing thanksgiving and thank-offerings to Jesus. Let parents and children now make earnest effort to redeem the time, and to remedy their past neglect. Let them follow a different course of action from that which the world follows. There are many things which can be devised with taste and cost far less than the unnecessary presents that are so frequently bestowed upon our children and relatives, and thus courtesy can be shown, and happiness brought into the home. You can teach your children a lesson while you explain to them the reason why you have made a change in the value of their presents, telling them that you are convinced that you have hitherto considered their pleasure more than the glory of God. Tell them that you have thought more of your own pleasure and of their gratification and of keeping in harmony with the customs and traditions of the world, in making presents to those who did not need them, than you have of advancing the cause of God. Like the wise men of old, you may offer to God your best gifts, and show by your offerings to him that you appreciate his Gift to a sinful world. Set your children's thoughts running in a new, unselfish channel, by inciting them to present offerings to God for the gift of his only begotten Son. Let a box be made to receive the gifts of the children. The intelligences of heaven are waiting to co-operate with human agents in every work of benevolence, that there may be means in the treasury of the Lord, and “meat in mine house,” saith the Lord.

In the days that were before the flood, men left God out of their reckoning, and followed the imagination of their own hearts until violence and cruelty, selfishness and self-exaltation, were the order of the day. The Lord destroyed the inhabitants of the world by a flood, and he declares that as it was in the days before the flood, so it shall be in the days when the Son of man is revealed. We are living near to the coming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven, and let those who would escape from the doom of those who forget God, be careful to maintain good works. God, the great moral Governor, has a law which is to be obeyed, and the angels of God are his officers, to witness to the deeds of evildoers, and to lay the rebellious under arrest. The transgressors of the law of God will meet a just retribution unless they repent before the Majesty of heaven, and by faith in Christ turn to allegiance before it is everlastingly too late.

A great work is to be accomplished through the instrumentality of man; for we are to co-operate with God in pressing back the tide of human woe. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we may be faithful, whole-hearted workers to stand in defense of truth and righteousness, and keep the Lord and his honor continually in mind. Let the perception be clear as to what is due to God for his benevolence in giving the gift of his Son to the human family. Let our liberalities flow toward God. Let thank-offerings be presented to Jesus, and as you gain clearer perceptions of your past deficiencies, let it be made manifest that you are seeking to make decided reformation in accordance with your faith.

For long years God has been robbed of tithes, and gifts, and offerings. Men have forgotten him, and through ignorance of his claims, they have allowed their gifts and offerings to flow in a perverted channel. Let parents and children teach the world by self-denial how they may honor the birth of Christ. Parents will have need of patience and moral strength, in order that in the fear of God they may unlearn the customs of the world. Tremendous evils have come into the world through forgetfulness of God, and through the coming holidays Satan will gather a large harvest of souls, and reap a large revenue of means through enticing men to gratify the desires of the unrenewed heart. Many souls will be led into false paths from which they will never recover. Earnest Christian endeavor should be put forth to establish a new order of things, so that the professed people may work in harmony with his plans, and thus glorify God and bless humanity.

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