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Report of the Book Fund for Tract and Book Distribution

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    GIVING

    “How much ought I to give to charitable objects?”RBF 33.1

    That depends upon a previous question.RBF 33.2

    “A previous question! and pray what is that?”RBF 33.3

    It is simply: Are you your own man? or are you a steward?RBF 33.4

    “Oh! of course I am a steward.”RBF 33.5

    Then your first question is easily answered. As a steward, you are entrusted with the property of your Master. Every dollar and every dime of that property is to be invested for him, according to your best judgment, with undeviating regard to his interests. You know what those interests are. He has proclaimed them very widely.RBF 33.6

    Here is one form of his proclamation: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” You see his object; it is to save the world; and you see his contribution to the object; his only begotten Son. Of course this object is immensely dear to him; and, as you hope to find favor with God, you will not scruple to follow his lead, in the spirit of the largest liberality.RBF 33.7

    “Certainly; but then, you see, this don’t meet my difficulty as to how much I ought to give. It is all very well, you know, but too general to be of any use.”RBF 33.8

    To me it seems exceedingly minute. It points to what our Lord has done and suffered; and on this basis lays claim to all you have and are. But here is another form of proclamation that is very precise: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength, and thy neighbor as thyself.” You see you are to give so much, and in such ways, as will exactly correspond with this measure of love. Isn’t that plain?RBF 33.9

    “You have a curious way of putting things. Instead of answering my question straight out, you go to preaching a kind of a sermon.”RBF 34.1

    Ah! you thought, perhaps, that I would say ten per cent, or twenty per cent, of your income. But having admitted that you are only a steward, it follows that the income, being his income, is in trust, as well as the principal. This is no sermon, my friend; it is only a statement of fact. Is it not absolutely true, and plain as the sun at noonday? You are to devote your entire income to the promotion of your Master’s object. I have already stated that his object is to save the world. But as you call for particulars, here is a more particular utterance: “He will have all men to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Now, in the exercise of your best judgment, you may go or send. If you go, I understand him to say that you may “live of the gospel;” that you are exempt from the task of money-making; but if you send, you are bound to be large-hearted, and to send as many preachers as the property intrusted to you will permit. You may choose between one field and another; you may have your option of the zones, temperate, torrid, or frigid; you may elect the living speaker, or the printed page; but you are to hasten to give the gospel to every creature; and, to the extent of your ability, with your own lips, and out of the abundance of your heart, you are to declare it. You are to spare no pains, and to keep back no money until all men have received the truth.RBF 34.2

    “But would you have me clothe myself and my family in homespun, and live on bread and water?”RBF 35.1

    I have no instructions on those points. I only know that we have a generous Master, who says, “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” He also says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. For your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” If you find that in broadcloth you can reach and save more souls, by all means wear it; he’ll never grudge the outlay. One of his most exemplary stewards says, “Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to the weak I became as weak, that I might gain the weak; I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Do but keep this same end in view, and you are free to use your own judgment as to dress and diet.RBF 35.2

    But be not deceived, my dear friend; God is not mocked; be one thing or another. If you are in truth a steward, hold fast by that, and regulate your life accordingly. Don’t play at fast and loose with him, of whom an ancient worthy says, “Thou hast searched me and known me. Thou knowest my down-sitting and mine uprising; thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.” Better not vow, than vow and not pay. If the Lord be indeed your God, serve him; and serve him generously. Give him your whole heart. Has it never occurred to you that you have a wealth of love to lavish, not yet drawn upon, could you but find an object worthy of all you have to give?RBF 35.3

    Have you never turned in disappointment from the pursuits which engross you? saying, with him whose range was even wider than your own, “What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun? All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.” Is not this true to your own experience? Then do not trifle with your stewardship. Come to Jesus, with all your resources of love and labor. First of all give yourself to him. Be it that you think you have already done so; some flaw there surely has been in your deed of dedication, or you would never puzzle over a question so superficial as, How much ought I to give to charitable objects? This question is no question to him who is truly and thoroughly a steward.RBF 36.1

    The loving friend of our most loving Lord can never doubt his own welcome to all he needs; nor does he imagine that Jesus is in any degree dependent upon us. “Hear, O my people, and I will speak. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, or thy burnt offerings continually before me [albeit you have offered the maimed and the blind]. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he-goats out of thy folds. For 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 fullness thereof.”RBF 36.2

    For your own benefit, I permit you to bring me your offerings; not because I need a gift, but because you need to cultivate the spirit of giving; and I value you for what you are, infinitely more than for all you do or can do. My aim is to transform you into my own image; to bring your life into harmony with mine. My life is a life of perpetual giving. Have you not read that “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handiwork?” This declaration is a priceless gift to man: that “day unto day uttereth speech” of my beneficence; and “night unto night sheweth knowledge” of it. Nor is my generosity limited to the creations of material wealth. Is not my law a gift of healing, converting the soul? The testimony of the Lord, is it not wisdom for the simple? The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.”RBF 36.3

    Such, and such like, are my gifts to you; will you debate the question, What per cent of my stewardship shall I employ for him who gave me all I have and am? Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? And if you love me, will you bargain for a separate purse? for houses and lands, for furniture and equipage? Will you raise the question, How far may a steward go in self-indulgence, and escape the challenge of his Lord? To what extent may he be heedless of his Master’s aims, and not be turned out of his stewardship? Do you not see that the question, How much ought I to give to charitable objects, comes of losing sight of your being only a steward?RBF 37.1

    Perhaps you will say, “But I never intended to lose sight of it. I wish always to remember that I am a steward.”RBF 37.2

    Then, dear friend, you must give and keep giving.RBF 37.3

    You must often renew the dedication of yourself to God, to Jesus the Great Benefactor. Be not content with giving money. So long as you permit yourself to think that money-giving meets your Lord’s demands upon you, you will be exposed to the danger of a warped and biased judgment. The world is not in harmony with Jesus. The sentiment and life of almost all around you are wholly unlike the mind of Christ; and your standard will inevitably sink to their low level, unless you protect yourself by the continuous employment of all your powers for Him.

    Our only safety lies in the total consecration of all we have to Christ. We must come fully under what Dr. Chalmers calls “the expulsive power of a new affection.” Throw wide open your heart to Jesus. Give him full and exclusive possession. Invest for him all your powers of body, mind and heart. Then will you verify in your happy experience the truth of his own maxim, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Be insatiable in your desires for the largest baptism of the Holy Ghost, and of love, possible for Almighty God to bestow for Christ’s dear sake. Seek a higher Christian life than that which contents the vast majority of those who are called Christians. There is such a life. It is freely offered to every one; it is most freely offered to you. But remember, Jesus says, “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” This is but another way of saying, The disciple of Jesus must never lose sight of his stewardship. He must divert nothing of all the property intrusted to him from the Master’s intention.RBF 38.1

    In entering upon business life, thousands of Christians promise fairly that they will live and work for Christ. They are going to earn money for Christ, and do good with it. But thousands of Christians — of those at least who profess to be such — are found forgetful of their first intention, submerged by the great adversary in business practices, which, little by little, extinguish every breath of spiritual life, leaving them as worldly, as covetous, as greedy of gain, as those who make no pretense that they are the stewards of the Son of God. How is this? Whence comes it? In countless instances it comes of heedlessness at the very start. It comes of forgetting that a Christian end can never sanctify unchristian means. Our Christian young men seek business with the false assumption that any business, not wrong in itself, is open to them. Nothing can be more untrue.RBF 38.2

    “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,” that offers itself to him who is inexorably resolved that he will be “filled with the knowledge of Christ’s will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that he will walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” This is a high aim; and it costs much. Why should it not? It is a pearl of great price. Should not he who covets it, sell all that he has and buy it?RBF 39.1

    Is it not most seemly and suitable that the Christian’s life should bear a close resemblance to that of his glorious Master? Have you forgotten that he bought you with his own most precious blood? Is there any sacrifice too great to be made for him? And can you begin too soon the habit which is to be the habit of your life — the habit of a steward? To this habit belongs the ingenuousness of unspoiled childhood; the integrity of unsophisticated youth: the unswerving firmness of noble manhood; a precious treasure intrusted to you by the Master, to be used for him. Will you barter it away for what is called “a good situation,” “a handsome income?”RBF 39.2

    Once you had a disposition to befriend your fellow; a kindly interest in his welfare; a willingness to share with him your food or raiment; if he asked a mile, to go with him two, or more. Will you heed those who bid you “root out all such sensibility, as you value your success in life?” “Ah!” do you say, “but what can I do? If I am to live and succeed among men, must I not do as men do? Can I set myself against the tide of the universal race?”RBF 39.3

    It is written, “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” “Choose you this day whom you will serve?” If Christ be your Lord, and you his steward, choose him. And having made your choice, abide by your choice; for no man can serve two masters — masters so opposed as Christ and the world. Depend upon it, my friend, in the eye of Christ the lines are just so distinctly drawn. This is no question of percentage. Either you are the Lord’s steward, or you are not. You are free to choose, for he scorns to compel the service he solicits. Serve me, he says, and I will give you wages; rich, generous, glorious wages. Follow me, and you shall be heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ, to an inheritance which beggars the wealth of kings; “an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” For consider — “all things are yours, and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” I admit you to fellowship with the King of kings.RBF 40.1

    Will you stoop from this summit to debate the question, “How much ought I to give to charitable objects?” Will you not rather present your soul and body, a living sacrifice, holy, and wholly consecrated to Him who loved you and gave himself for you? — J. W. K. RBF 40.2

    * * * * *

    SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION.RBF 40.3

    BATTLE CREEK, MICH.RBF 40.4

    Address Elder James White.RBF 40.5

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