I saw that if, in the providence of God, wealth has been acquired, there is no sin in possessing it; and if no opportunities present themselves to use this means to advance the cause of God, there is no sin in still possessing it. But if opportunities are presented to the brethren to use their property to the glory of God and the advancement of His cause, and they withhold it, it will be a cause of stumbling to them. In the day of trouble that which was their hoarded treasure will be an offense unto them. Then all opportunities will be past for using their substance to the glory of God, and in anguish of spirit they will cast it from them to the moles and to the bats. Their gold and their silver cannot save them in that day. It falls upon them with crushing weight, that an account must be given of their stewardship, what use they have made of their Lord’s money. Self-love made them believe that it was all their own, and that they might want it all; but they then feel, bitterly feel and understand, that their means was only lent them of God, to be freely returned by being used to advance His cause. Their riches deceived them. They felt poor and lived for themselves, and at last they will find that the portion they might have used for God’s cause is a terrible burden.
Said the angel of God: “Lay all upon the altar, a living, consuming sacrifice. Bind it with cords, if you cannot keep it there. Give yourselves to prayer. Live at the altar. Strengthen your purposes by the promises of God.” “Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”
I saw that if God had given you wealth above the plainest and poorest, it should humble you, for it lays you under greater obligations. Where much is given, even of a worldly substance, much will be required. Upon this principle you are bound to possess noble, generous dispositions. Seek for opportunities to do good with what you have. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”
I saw that the least that has been required of Christians in past days, is to possess a spirit of liberality, and to consecrate to the Lord a portion of all their increase. Every true Christian has considered this a privilege, but some who have borne the name only, have considered it a task; the grace and love of God had never wrought in them the good work, or they would gladly have advanced the cause of their Redeemer. But Christians who are living in the last days, and who are waiting for their Lord, are required to do even more than this. God requires them to sacrifice.
Said the angel: “Jesus left a bright track for you to follow. Tread closely in His footsteps. Share His life of self-denial, His self-sacrificing life, and inherit with Him the crown of glory.”
Chapter 30—The Rich Young Man
At Monterey, Michigan, October 8, 1857, I was shown in vision that the condition of many Sabbathkeepers was like that of the young man who came to Jesus to know what he should do to inherit eternal life.
“And, behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? there is none good but One, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto Him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto Him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
“Then said Jesus unto His disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:16-26.
Jesus quoted five of the last six commandments to the young man, also the second great commandment, on which the last six commandments hang. Those mentioned he thought he had kept. Jesus did not mention the first four commandments, containing our duty to God. In answer to the inquiry of the young man, “What lack I yet?” Jesus said unto him: “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.”
Here was his lack. He failed to keep the first four commandments, also the last six. He failed to love his neighbor as himself. Said Jesus: “Give to the poor.” Jesus touched his possessions. “Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor.” In this direct reference He pointed out his idol. His love of riches was supreme; therefore it was impossible for him to love God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind. And this supreme love for his riches shut his eyes to the wants of his fellow men. He did not love his neighbor as himself, therefore he failed to keep the last six commandments. His heart was on his treasure. It was swallowed up in his earthly possessions. He loved his possessions better than God, better than the heavenly treasure. He heard the conditions from the mouth of Jesus. If he would sell and give to the poor, he should have treasure in heaven. Here was a test of how much higher he prized eternal life than riches. Did he eagerly lay hold of the prospect of eternal life? Did he earnestly strive to remove the obstacle that was in his way of having a treasure in heaven? Oh, no; “he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”
I was pointed to these words: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Said Jesus: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Said the angel: “Will God permit the rich men to keep their riches, and yet enter into the kingdom of God?” Another angel answered: “No, never.”
I saw that it is God’s plan that these riches should be used properly, distributed to bless the needy, and to advance the work of God. If men love their riches better than they love their fellow men, better than they love God or the truths of His word, if their hearts are on their riches, they cannot have eternal life. They would rather yield the truth than sell and give to the poor. Here they are proved to see how much they love God, how much they love the truth; and, like the young man in the Bible, many go away sorrowful because they cannot have their riches and a treasure in heaven, too. They cannot have both; and they venture to risk their chance of eternal life for a worldly possession.
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” With God all things are possible. Truth, set home to the heart by the Spirit of God, will crowd out the love of riches. The love of Jesus and of riches cannot dwell in the same heart. The love of God so far surpasses the love of riches that the possessor breaks away from his riches and transfers his affections to God. Through love he is then led to minister to the wants of God’s cause. It is his highest pleasure to make a right disposition of his Lord’s goods. Love to God and his fellow men predominates, and he holds all that he has as not his own, and faithfully discharges his duty as God’s steward. Then can he keep both the great commandments of the law: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” In this way it is possible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. “And everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.”
Here is the reward for those who sacrifice for God. They receive a hundredfold in this life, and shall inherit everlasting life. “But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” I was shown those who receive the truth, but do not live it. They cling to their possessions, and are not willing to distribute of their substance to advance the cause of God. They have not faith to venture and trust God. Their love of this world swallows up their faith. God calls for a portion of their substance, but they heed it not. They reason that they have labored hard to obtain what they have, and they cannot lend it to the Lord, for they may come to want. “O ye of little faith.” That God who cared for Elijah in the time of famine, will not pass by one of His self-sacrificing children. He who has numbered the hairs of their head, will care for them, and in days of famine they will be satisfied. While the wicked are perishing all around them for want of bread, their bread and water will be sure. Those who still cling to their earthly treasure, and will not make a right disposition of that which is lent them of God, will lose their treasure in heaven, lose everlasting life.
God in His providence has moved upon the hearts of some of those who have riches, and has converted them to the truth, that they with their substance may assist to keep His work moving. And if those who are wealthy will not do this, if they do not fulfill the purpose of God, He will pass them by, and raise up others to fill their place who will fulfill His purpose, and with their possessions gladly distribute to meet the necessities of the cause of God. In this they will be first. God will have those in His cause who will do this.
He could send means from heaven to carry on His work; but this is out of His order. He has ordained that men should be His instruments, that as a great sacrifice was made to redeem them, they should act a part in this work of salvation, by making a sacrifice for one another, and by thus doing show how highly they prize the sacrifice that has been made for them.
I was directed to James 5:1-3: “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.”
I saw that these fearful words apply particularly to the wealthy who profess to believe the present truth. The Lord calls them to use their means to advance His cause. Opportunities are presented to them, but they shut their eyes to the wants of the cause, and cling fast to their earthly treasure. Their love for the world is greater than their love for the truth, their love for their fellow men, or their love for God. He calls for their substance, but they selfishly, covetously, retain what they have. They give a little now and then to ease their conscience, but have not overcome their love for this world. They do not sacrifice for God. The Lord has raised up others that prize eternal life, and that can feel and realize something of the value of the soul, and they have freely bestowed their means to advance the cause of God. The work is closing; and soon the means of those who have kept their riches, their large farms, their cattle, etc., will not be wanted. I saw the Lord turn to such in anger, in wrath, and repeat these words: “Go to now, ye rich men.” He has called, but you would not hear. Love of this world has drowned His voice. Now He has no use for you, and lets you go, bidding you: “Go to now, ye rich men.”
Oh, I saw it was an awful thing to be thus forsaken by the Lord—a fearful thing to hold onto a perishable substance here, when He has said that if we will sell and give alms, we can lay up treasure in heaven. I was shown that as the work is closing up, and the truth is going forth in mighty power, these rich men will bring their means and lay it at the feet of the servants of God, begging them to accept it. The answer from the servants of God will be: “Go to now, ye rich men. Your means is not needed. Ye withheld it when ye could do good with it in advancing the cause of God. The needy have suffered; they have not been blessed by your means. God will not accept your riches now. Go to now, ye rich men.”
Then I was directed to these words: “Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” I saw that God is not in all the riches that are obtained. Satan often has much more to do with acquiring property than God. Much of it is obtained by oppressing the hireling in his wages. The naturally covetous rich man obtains his riches by grinding down the hireling, and taking advantage of individuals wherever he can, thereby adding to a treasure that will eat his flesh as it were fire.
A strictly honest, honorable course has not been taken by some. Such must take a very different course and work fast to redeem the time. Many Sabbathkeepers are at fault here. Advantage is taken even of their poor brethren, and those who have an abundance exact more than the real worth of things, more than they would pay for the same things, while these same brethren are embarrassed and distressed for want of means. God knows all these things. Every selfish act, every covetous extortion, will bring its reward.
I saw that it is cruel and unjust to have no consideration for a brother’s situation. If he is distressed, or poor, yet doing the best he can, allowance should be made for him, and even the full value of things he may purchase of the wealthy should not be exacted; but they should have bowels of compassion for him. God will approve of such kindly acts, and the doer will not lose his reward. But a fearful account stands against many Sabbathkeepers for close, covetous acts.
I was pointed back to a time when there were but few who listened to and embraced the truth. They had not much of this world’s goods. The wants of the cause were divided among a very few. Then it was necessary for some to sell their houses and lands, and obtain cheaper to serve them as a shelter, or home, while their means were freely and generously lent to the Lord, to publish the truth, and to otherwise aid in advancing the cause of God. As I beheld these self-sacrificing ones, I saw that they had endured privation for the benefit of the cause. I saw an angel standing by them, pointing them upward, and saying: “Ye have bags in heaven! Ye have bags in heaven that wax not old! Endure unto the end, and great will be your reward.”
God has been moving upon many hearts. The truth for which a few sacrificed so much, in order to get it before others, has triumphed, and multitudes have laid hold of it. God in His providence has moved upon those who have means, and has brought them into the truth, that as His work increases, the wants of the cause may be met. Much means has been brought into the ranks of Sabbathkeepers, and I saw that at present God does not call for the houses His people need to live in, unless expensive houses are exchanged for cheaper ones. But if those who have an abundance do not hear His voice, cut loose from the world, and dispose of a portion of their property and lands, and sacrifice for God, He will pass them by, and call for those who are willing to do anything for Jesus, even to sell their homes to meet the wants of the cause. God will have freewill offerings. Those who give must esteem it a privilege to do so.
Some give of their abundance, but yet they feel no lack. They do not particularly deny themselves of anything for the cause of Christ. They still have all that heart can wish. They give liberally and heartily. God regards it, and the action and motive are known and strictly marked by Him. They will not lose their reward. You who cannot bestow so liberally must not excuse yourselves because you cannot do as much as some others. Do what you can. Deny yourselves of some article that you can get along without, and sacrifice for the cause of God. Like the widow, cast in your two mites. You will actually give more than all those who give of their abundance; and you will know how sweet it is to deny self, to give to the needy, to sacrifice for the truth, and to lay up treasure in heaven.
I was shown that the young, especially young men, who profess the truth, have yet a lesson of self-denial to learn. If these made more sacrifice for the truth, they would esteem it more highly. It would affect their hearts, and purify their lives, and they would hold it more dear and sacred.
The young do not take the burden of the cause of God, or feel any responsibility in regard to it. Is it because God has excused them? Oh, no; they excuse themselves! They are eased, and others are burdened. They do not realize that they are not their own. Their strength, their time, is not their own. They are bought with a price. A dear sacrifice was made for them, and unless they possess the spirit of self-denial and sacrifice, they can never possess the immortal inheritance.
Chapter 31—The Privilege and Duty of the Church
The following relates to the Battle Creek church, but describes the condition and privileges of brethren and sisters scattered abroad:
I saw that a thick cloud enveloped them, but that a few rays of light from Jesus pierced this cloud. I looked to see those who received this light, and saw individuals earnestly praying for victory. It was their study to serve God. Their persevering faith brought them returns. The light of heaven was shed upon them; but the cloud of darkness over the church in general was thick. They were stupid and sluggish. My agony of soul was great. I asked the angel if that darkness was necessary. Said he: “Look ye!” I then saw the church begin to rise, and earnestly plead with God, and rays of light began to penetrate this darkness, and the cloud was removed. The pure light of heaven shone upon them, and with holy confidence their attention was attracted upward. Said the angel: “This is their privilege and duty.”
Satan has come down in great power, knowing that his time is short. His angels are busy, and a great share of the people of God suffer themselves to be lulled to sleep by him. The cloud again passed over, and settled upon the church. I saw that it would be only by earnest effort and persevering prayer that this spell would be broken.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 169-178
Discussion Questions – Day 17
- What important lessons did you learn about money in today’s reading?
- What was the most encouraging thing that you read?
- What was the most useful thing that you read?
- How should our lives reflect these principles more?