Ellen G. White Writings

<< Back Forward >>

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»

The Review and Herald

November 10, 1896

A Test of Gratitude and Loyalty

By Mrs. E. G. White

“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.” This scripture teaches that God, as the giver of all our benefits, has a claim upon them all; that his claim should be our first consideration; and that a special blessing will attend all who honor this claim.

Herein is set forth a principle that is seen in all the dealings of God with men. The Lord placed our first parents in the garden of Eden. He surrounded them with everything that could minister to their happiness, and he bade them acknowledge him as the possessor of all things. In the garden he caused to grow every tree that was pleasant to the eye or good for food; but among them he made one reserve. Of all else, Adam and Eve might freely eat, but of this one tree God said, “Thou shalt not eat of it.” Here was the test of their gratitude and their loyalty to God.

So the Lord has imparted to us heaven's richest treasure in giving us Jesus. With him he has given us all things richly to enjoy. The productions of the earth, the bountiful harvests, the treasures of gold and silver, are his gifts. Houses and lands, food and clothing, he has placed in the possession of men. He asks us to acknowledge him as the giver of all things, and for this reason he says, Of all your possessions I reserve a tenth for myself, besides gifts and offerings, which are to be brought into my storehouse. This is the provision God has made for carrying forward the work of the gospel.

It was by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who gave his life for the life of the world, that this plan for systematic giving was devised. He who left the royal courts, who laid aside his honor as commander of the heavenly hosts, who clothed his divinity with humanity, in order to uplift the fallen race, who for our sake became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich, has spoken to men, and in his wisdom has told them his own plan for sustaining those who bear his message to the world.

The Lord has devised this plan because it is best for us. Satan is constantly working to foster in men worldliness, covetousness, and avarice, that he may ruin their souls and hinder the work of God. The Lord is seeking to cultivate in us gratitude and liberality. He desires to free us from selfishness, which is so offensive to him, because so contrary to his character. In carrying out God's plan, men may by his grace so relate themselves to him and to their fellow men that they will be registered in the books of heaven as colaborers with Christ in the plan of redemption.

Not only does the Lord claim the tithe as his own, but he tells us how it should be reserved for him. He says, “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of thine increase.” This does not teach that we are to spend our means on ourselves, and bring to the Lord the remnant, even though it should be otherwise an honest tithe. Let God's portion be first set apart. The directions given by the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul, in regard to gifts, present a principle that applies also to tithing. “On the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” Parents and children are here included. Not only the rich, but the poor are addressed. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart [through the candid consideration of God's prescribed plan], so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” The gifts are to be made in consideration of the great goodness of God to us.

And what more appropriate time could be chosen for setting aside the tithe and presenting our offerings to God? On the Sabbath we have thought upon his goodness. We have beheld his work in creation as an evidence of his power in redemption. Our hearts are filled with thankfulness for his great love. And now, before the toil of the week begins, we return to him his own, and with it an offering to testify our gratitude. Thus our practise will be a weekly sermon, declaring that God is the possessor of all our property, and that he has made us stewards to use it to his glory. Every acknowledgment of our obligation to God will strengthen the sense of obligation. Gratitude deepens as we give it expression; and the joy it brings is life to soul and body.

The duty and privilege of systematic giving to the cause of God are matters that should by no means be neglected by our ministers. God has called them to watch for souls as they that must give an account. He has commissioned them to bear his message to the churches. They should see that none are left in ignorance concerning this subject. They should seek to impress the people with a sense of their entire dependence upon God, and their accountability to him for all his benefits.

God has given special direction as to the use to which the tithe should be devoted. He does not design that his work shall be crippled for want of means. That there may be no haphazard work and no error, he has made our duty on all these points very plain. The portion that God has reserved for himself is not to be diverted to any other purpose than that which he has specified. Let none feel at liberty to retain their tithe to use according to their own judgment. They are not to use it for themselves in any emergency, nor to apply it as they see fit, even in what they may regard as the Lord's work. God has shown honor to men in taking them into partnership with himself in the great work of redemption. He expects his agents to labor, not against him, but in unison with him, that his treasury may be supplied.

The minister should, by precept and example, teach the people to regard the tithe as sacred. He should not feel that he can retain and apply it according to his own judgment, because he is a minister. It is not his. He is not at liberty to devote to himself whatever he thinks is his due. Let him not give his influence to any plans for diverting from their legitimate use the tithes and offerings dedicated to God. Let them be placed in his treasury, and held sacred for God's service as he has appointed. The tithe is God's portion, not at all the property of man, and the Scripture declares that he who withholds it is guilty of robbery. Who, then, will stand with clean hands before the Lord?

As a people and as individuals we need to have a deeper sense of our duty to God and our responsibility to the world. There should be more earnest study of the Scriptures. I have been deeply impressed with the importance of studying the book of Daniel in connection with the smaller prophets, especially Malachi. And we need to give careful attention also to the lessons taught in the building of the tabernacle and the temple, and in the temple service. Through the prophets God has given a delineation of what will come to pass in the last days of this earth's history, and the Jewish economy is full of instruction for us.

The rivers of blood that flowed at the harvest thanksgiving, when the sacrifices were offered in such large numbers, were meant to teach a great truth. For even the productions of the earth, the bounties provided for man's sustenance, we are indebted to the offering of Christ upon the cross of Calvary. God teaches us that all we receive from him is the gift of redeeming love. From his instruction to Israel, he would have us learn that he has made ample provision for the poor to receive the comforts of this life, and also for the gospel to be carried to all those who are perishing in their sins. The whole sanctuary service was designed to impress the people with the fact that the things which God has set apart for himself are holy. They were ever to observe the distinction between the sacred and the common. Holy things must be kept holy.

When these things are studied and heeded as the message of God to every soul, we shall see the deep movings of his Spirit among us. Conscience will be aroused. The record of past days will make its disclosure of the vanity of human inventions, by which men have excused themselves for neglecting the claims of God. The Holy Spirit will reveal faults and defects of character that ought to have been discerned and corrected. It will show how, through the grace of Christ, the character might have been transformed. The Lord's servants will see how they should have had the joy of victory where they have known the sorrow of defeat.

The Lord will not only reveal himself as a God of long-suffering mercy, but by terrible things in righteousness he will make it manifest that he is not a man that he should lie. He will have no fellowship with false dealing. He will sanction no pretense. The time is near when the inner life will be fully revealed. All will behold, as if reflected in a mirror, the working of the hidden springs of motive. The Lord would have you now examine your own life, and see how stands your record with him.

The period of our probation is fast closing. The year 1896 will soon be as a tale that is told. Soon our opportunity to give the last message of mercy to the lost will be forever past. The help of every one that loves Jesus is needed now in the Lord's work. Let there be no idlers in the Master's vineyard. Let there be no robbery of God in tithes and offerings needed to sustain his cause.

“The liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.” “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” The promise to those who honor God with their substance still stands upon record upon the sacred page. If the Lord's people had faithfully obeyed his directions, the promise would have been fulfilled to them. But when men disregard the claims of God plainly set before them, the Lord permits them to follow their own way, and reap the fruit of their doings. Whoever appropriates to his own use the portion that God has reserved, is proving himself an unfaithful steward. He will lose not only that which he has withheld from God, but also that which was committed to him as his own.

The Lord is still testing us to see whether we will prove faithful servants. He is calling upon his people to consider his goodness, to respond to his mercy, and to give proof of their loyalty by bringing all the tithes into his storehouse. “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.”

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»