Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

November 24, 1896

The Right Use of God's Gifts

By Mrs. E. G. White

The love and benevolence of God and the merciful designs of his government are proclaimed in his word. “The eyes of all wait upon thee,” writes the psalmist, “and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” To God we are indebted for life itself. In him “we live, and move, and have our being,” receiving from him “life, and breath, and all things.” The sun, which brings us light, and ripens that which the earth produces, is his gift. Were it not for his miracle-working power, which by day and by night causes vegetation to flourish, there would be no harvest to gather. His blessings are new every morning, and his loving care is extended to all his creatures.

God crowned his love and benevolence by the wonderful gift of his Son. He “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The streams of salvation are poured into our hearts by the grace of Christ; every blessing, whether temporal or spiritual, comes to us as the purchase of his blood. And God desires that now, in the year 1896, our memories be freshened, and our hearts be filled with gratitude, as we connect our outward, worldly blessings with the great sacrifice, the wonderful atonement, made in our behalf.

Our indebtedness to God and our entire dependence upon him should lead us to acknowledge him as the giver of all our blessings, and by our offerings we acknowledge this. Of the bounties he has bestowed upon us, he requires that a portion be returned to him. By giving to the Lord his due, we declare to the world that all our mercies are from him, that all we possess belongs to him.

In every offering to God we are to acknowledge the one great Gift; that alone can make our service acceptable to him. When Abel offered the firstling of the flock, he acknowledged God, not only as the giver of his temporal blessings, but also as the giver of the Saviour. Abel's gift was the very choicest he could bring; for it was the Lord's specified claim. But Cain brought only of the fruit of the ground, and his offering was not accepted by the Lord. It did not express faith in Christ. All our offerings must be sprinkled with the blood of the atonement. As the purchased possession of the Son of God, we are to give the Lord our own individual lives.

Right and appropriate was the festal anthem of the Jewish nation, “Hosanna; ... blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” When the Jews held their services of thanksgiving, after the ingathering of nature's treasure, they offered sacrifices to God. To us it might seem strange that sacrificial offerings should have formed so important a part of the universal rejoicing; and to outward appearance, it was a strange combination to mingle the sacrifice of beasts with the expressions of joy. But this was built upon the true foundation; for Christ himself was the object of these ceremonial services. When, in these festal gatherings, blood was shed, and offerings were made to God, the people were not only thanking him for his present mercies, but they were thanking him for the promise of a Saviour, and by this expressing the truth that without the shedding of the blood of the Son of God, there could be no forgiveness of sins. These celebrations were right and acceptable in the sight of God. Christ is to be regarded and appreciated as the source whence all our blessings flow.

But when the Jewish people departed from God, they lost sight of the true significance of these festal celebrations. Christ, with his divinity clothed with humanity, stood among them, witnessing their jubilant festivities and solemn services, but he was unrecognized. He was the foundation and antitype of these services, but he was not honored by those who were celebrating them. His eye looked upon the leafy encampments, his ear heard the words of song and understood their deep import; but the actors knew not the deep meaning of the words they uttered. Thousands of voices shouted, “Hosanna; ... blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord;” thousands of voices prayed for the coming of Him who even then stood among them, and whom they would not receive. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

Thus by precept and example the Jews tore down what they were trying to maintain by outward ceremonies. So enveloped were they in darkness and unbelief, that the influence of their words and offerings of thanksgiving were destroyed by their example. The principles represented were not accepted by God. Their offerings did not bear the divine credentials; for they were neutralized by a wrong practise. While they praised God with their lips, they pledged themselves with the same mind to murder his Son. Their hearts were devoid of the spirit of true worship, and were filled with wicked purposes, hypocrisy, and all manner of corruption.

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Beware lest, like the Jews, you thank God with your lips only. He will not accept this offering. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,” a heart filled with thanksgiving to him, and willing to prove the sincerity of its devotion by acts of ready obedience.

The Lord has committed talents to men, that they may be better fitted to honor and glorify him. To some he has entrusted means; to others, special qualifications for service; to others, tact and influence. Some have five talents, others two, and others one. From the highest to the lowliest, each has been entrusted with some gift. These talents are not our own. They belong to God. He has given them to us for conscientious use, and he will one day ask for an account of them.

The great lesson we are daily to learn is that we are stewards of God's gifts,—stewards of money, of reason, of intellect, of influence. As stewards of the Lord's gifts, we are to trade upon these talents, however small they may be. Many neglect this work because they think their talent too small to honor God. But you should not thus estimate the talents God has given you. Because you do not seem to be so highly favored as some others, you should not underrate your entrusted gifts, hiding them in the earth. We cannot place an accurate estimate upon our powers. However small your talent may appear, use it in God's service, for he has need of it. If it is wisely used, you may bring to God one soul who also will dedicate his powers to the Master's service. That soul may win other souls and thus one talent, faithfully used, may gain many talents.

God has bestowed gifts upon every man according to his several ability. Each one is to work in God's great moral vineyard. He bids you use your entrusted gifts, large or small, in whatever sphere you may be called to act, employing every capability, and improving the smallest gift for him. Many have left the one and the two and the five talents out of their reckoning; but by so doing, they rob God. He expects all to do their best, and he will require the interest in proportion to the amount of entrusted capital. It is our privilege, on the great reckoning day, to bring our talents to the Lord, saying, “Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents; behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.”

God would have us realize that he has a right to mind, soul, body, and spirit,—to all that we possess. We are his by creation and by redemption. As our Creator, he claims our entire service. As our Redeemer, he has a claim of love as well as of right,—of love without a parallel. This claim we should realize every moment of our existence.

Before believers and unbelievers we must constantly recognize our dependence upon God. Our bodies, our souls, our lives, are his, not only because they are his free gift, but because he constantly supplies us with his benefits, and gives us strength to use our faculties. By returning to him his own, by willingly laboring for him, we show that we recognize our dependence upon him.

Jesus asks us to consecrate ourselves to him. He has placed signal honor upon the human race; for he says, “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Shall we not, then, give to Christ that which he has died to redeem? If you will do this, he will quicken your conscience, renew your heart, sanctify your affections, purify your thoughts, and set all your powers at work for him. Every motive and every thought will be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ.

Those who are sons of God will represent Christ in character. Their works will be perfumed by the infinite tenderness, compassion, love, and purity of the Son of God. And the more completely mind and body are yielded to the Holy Spirit, the greater will be the fragrance of our offering to him.

If the spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice imbued the hearts of all who claim to be children of God, every one would represent Jesus to the world. It is because of self-seeking on the part of his professed followers that the gospel of Christ is, to so great a degree, robbed of its power. If our hearts were free from all selfishness, the water of life, flowing from Christ to the world,—the gift of righteousness and immortality, brought to light through the gospel,—would be imparted to those who are ready to perish. By our unselfish devotion, other souls would be won to Christ.

God has ordained that men and women and children should be educated by his word to become colaborers with Christ in the great work of dispensing his gifts to the world. But those who do this work must be like Christ. They must bear his image, and live his pure, unselfish life. By too many the incarnation and work of the Son of God are but dimly comprehended. He was the Majesty of heaven, the King of Glory; “yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” He pleased not himself, but cheerfully gave his life to ransom the world. He went about doing good, and this we must do if we would co-operate with him. Selfishness, self-pleasing, self-serving, can find no place in the life of the true Christian.

The life of Christ is an example of what a Christian can do with the powers given him of God. Do not become discouraged because your gift is not so large as that of some one else. Cheerfully give what you have, and God will bless your efforts. As you press close to the bleeding side of Christ, you will be actuated by his Spirit, and your heart will respond to his call. You will work as he worked, revealing his loving, unselfish spirit. Your faith will be strong, working by love and purifying your soul. Strengthened by power from above, you will be enabled to meet the Lord's requirements, applying yourself resolutely to irksome tasks and self-sacrificing deeds for the Master's sake.

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