Note: This is a continuation of the previously published article “Will a Man Rob God? – Part 1.” The Lord is set to close His work very soon and the demands of the gospel work are greater than ever before. “Let him that readeth, understand.”
I have been shown that many of our people are robbing the Lord in tithes and in offerings, and as the result His work is greatly hindered. The curse of God will rest upon those who are living upon God’s bounties and yet close their hearts and do nothing or next to nothing to advance His cause. Brethren and sisters, how can the beneficent Father continue to make you His stewards, furnishing you with means to use for Him, when you grasp it all, selfishly claiming that it is yours!
Instead of rendering to God the means He has placed in their hands, many invest it in more land. This evil is growing with our brethren. They had before all they could well care for, but the love of money or a desire to be counted as well off as their neighbors leads them to bury their means in the world and withhold from God His just dues. Can we be surprised if they are not prospered? if God does not bless their crops and they are disappointed? Could our brethren remember that God can bless twenty acres of land and make them as productive as one hundred, they would not continue to bury themselves in lands, but would let their means flow into God’s treasury. “Take heed,” said Christ, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life.” Satan is pleased to have you increase your farms and invest your means in worldly enterprises, for by so doing you not only hinder the cause from advancing, but by anxiety and overwork lessen your prospect for eternal life.
We ought now to be heeding the injunction of our Saviour: “Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not.” It is now that our brethren should be cutting down their possessions instead of increasing them. We are about to move to a better country, even a heavenly. Then let us not be dwellers upon the earth, but be getting things into as compact a compass as possible.
The time is coming when we cannot sell at any price. The decree will soon go forth prohibiting men to buy or sell of any man save him that hath the mark of the beast. We came near having this realized in California a short time since; but this was only the threatening of the blowing of the four winds. As yet they are held by the four angels. We are not just ready. There is a work yet to be done, and then the angels will be bidden to let go, that the four winds may blow upon the earth. That will be a decisive time for God’s children, a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. Now is our opportunity to work.
There is among many professing the truth a spirit of unrest. Some want to go to another county or state, buy large lands, and carry on an extensive business; others want to go into the city. Thus little churches are left in weakness and discouragement to die, when, had the ones who left them been content to work on a smaller scale, doing their little with fidelity, they might have made their families comfortable and been free to keep their own souls in the love of God. Many who move are disappointed. They lose what little property they had, lose health, and finally give up the truth.
The Lord is coming. Let everyone show his faith by his works. Faith in Christ’s near advent is dying out of the churches, and selfishness is causing them to rob God to serve their own personal interests. When Christ is abiding in us, we shall be self-denying like Him.
In times past there has been great liberality on the part of our people. They have not been backward to respond to calls for help in the various branches of the work. But of late a change has come. There has been, especially with our Eastern brethren, a withholding of means, while worldliness and love of possessions have been increasing. There is a growing disregard of promises made to help our various institutions and enterprises. Subscriptions to build a church, to endow a college, or to assist in the missionary work are looked upon as promises which persons are under no obligation to fulfill if it is not convenient. These promises were made under the holy impressions of the Spirit of God. Then do not rob Him by withholding what rightfully belongs to Him. Brethren and sisters, look over your past life and see if you have dealt faithfully with God. Have you any unredeemed pledges? If so, resolve that you will pay them if it is within your power.
Listen to the counsel of the Lord: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, … 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.” “And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land.”
Are you not willing to accept the promises which the Lord here makes and to put selfishness from you and begin to work earnestly to advance His cause? Do not strengthen your hold on this world by taking advantage of your poorer neighbor, for God’s eye is upon you; He reads every motive and weighs you in the balances of the sanctuary.
I saw that many withhold from the cause while they live, quieting their consciences that they will be charitable at death; they hardly dare exercise faith and trust in God to give anything while living. But this deathbed charity is not what Christ requires of His followers; it cannot excuse the selfishness of the living. Those who hold fast their property till the last moment, surrender it to death rather than to the cause. Losses are occurring continually. Banks fail, and property is consumed in very many ways. Many purpose to do something, but they delay the matter, and Satan works to prevent the means from coming into the treasury at all. It is lost before it is returned to God, and Satan exults that it is so.
If you would do good with your means, do it at once lest Satan get it in his hands and thus hinder the work of God. Many times, when the Lord has opened the way for brethren to handle their means to advance His cause, the agents of Satan have presented some enterprise by which they were positive the brethren could double their means. They take the bait; their money is invested, and the cause, and frequently themselves, never receive a dollar.
Brethren, remember the cause; and when you have means at your command lay up for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that you may lay hold on eternal life. Jesus for your sakes became poor, that you through His poverty might be made rich in heavenly treasure. What will you give for Jesus, who has given all for you?
It will not do for you to depend on making your charity gifts in testamentary bequests at death. You cannot calculate with the least degree of surety that the cause will ever be benefited by them. Satan works with acute skill to stir up the relatives, and every false position is taken to gain to the world that which was solemnly dedicated to the cause of God. Much less than the sum willed is always received. Satan even puts it into the hearts of men and women to protest against their relatives’ doing what they wish in the bestowment of their property. They seem to regard everything given to the Lord as robbing the relatives of the deceased. If you want your means to go to the cause, appropriate it, or all that you do not really need for a support, while you live. A few of the brethren are doing this and enjoying the pleasure of being their own executors. Will the covetousness of men make it necessary that they shall be deprived of life in order that the property which God has lent them shall not be useless forever? Let none of you draw upon yourselves the doom of the unprofitable servant who hid his Lord’s money in the earth.
Dying charity is a poor substitute for living benevolence. Many will to their friends and relatives all except a very small pittance of their property. This they leave for their supreme Friend, who became poor for their sakes, who suffered insult, mockery, and death, that they might become sons and daughters of God. And yet they expect when the righteous dead shall come forth to immortal life that this Friend will take them into His everlasting habitations.
The cause of Christ is robbed, not by a mere passing thought, not by an unpremeditated act. No. By your own deliberate act you made your will, placing your property at the disposal of unbelievers. After having robbed God during your lifetime, you continue to rob Him after your death, and you do this with the full consent of all your powers of mind, in a document called your will. What do you think will be your Master’s will toward you for thus appropriating His goods? What will you say when an account is demanded of your stewardship?
Brethren, awake from your life of selfishness, and act like consistent Christians. The Lord requires you to economize your means and let every dollar not needed for your comfort flow into the treasury. Sisters, take that ten cents, that twenty cents, that dollar which you were about to spend for candies, for ruffles, or for ribbons, and donate it to God’s cause. Many of our sisters earn good wages, but it is nearly all spent in gratifying their pride of dress.
The wants of the cause will continually increase as we near the close of time. Means is needed to give young men a short course of study in our schools, to prepare them for efficient work in the ministry and in different branches of the cause. We are not coming up to our privilege in this matter. All schools among us will soon be closed up. How much more might have been done had men obeyed the requirements of Christ in Christian beneficence! What an influence would this readiness to give all for Christ have had upon the world! It would have been one of the most convincing arguments in favor of the truth we profess to believe—an argument which the world could not misunderstand nor gainsay. The Lord would have distinguished us with His blessing even before the eyes of the world.
The first Christian church had not the privileges and opportunities we have. They were a poor people, but they felt the power of the truth. The object before them was sufficient to lead them to invest all. They felt that the salvation or the loss of a world depended upon their instrumentality. They cast in their all and held themselves in readiness to go or come at the Lord’s bidding.
We profess to be governed by the same principles, to be influenced by the same spirit. But instead of giving all for Christ many have taken the golden wedge and a goodly Babylonish garment and hid them in the camp. If the presence of one Achan was sufficient to weaken the whole camp of Israel, can we be surprised at the little success which attends our efforts when every church and almost every family has its Achan? Let us individually go to work to stimulate others by our example of disinterested benevolence. The work might have gone forward with far greater power had all done what they could to supply the treasury with means.1Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 151-157
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|1.||↑||Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 151-157|