August 20, 2006 – August 26, 2006
“Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.” Proverbs 3:9.
Study Help: Counsels on Stewardship, 114–117.
“All things belong to God. All the prosperity we enjoy is the result of divine beneficence. God is the great and bountiful giver. If He requires any portion of the liberal supply He has given us, it is not that He may be enriched by our gifts, for He needs nothing from our hand; but it is that we may have an opportunity to exercise self-denial, love, and sympathy for our fellow men, and thus become highly exalted. In every dispensation, from Adam’s time to ours, God has claimed the property of man, saying: I am the rightful owner of the universe; therefore consecrate to Me thy first fruits, bring a tribute of loyalty, surrender to Me My own, thus acknowledging My sovereignty, and you shall be free to retain and enjoy My bounties, and My blessing shall be with you. . . .
“God’s requirements come first. We are not doing His will if we consecrate to Him what is left of our income after all our imaginary wants have been supplied. Before any part of our earnings is consumed, we should take out and present to Him that portion which He claims. In the old dispensation an offering of gratitude was kept continually burning upon the altar, thus showing man’s endless obligation to God. If we have prosperity in our secular business, it is because God blesses us. A part of this income is to be devoted to the poor, and a large portion to be applied to the cause of God. When that which God claims is rendered to Him, the remainder will be sanctified and blessed to our own use. But when a man robs God by withholding that which He requires, His curse rests upon the whole.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 476, 477.
1 To whom do we belong? 1 Corinthians 3:23; 6:19, 20.
note: “We belong to God; we are his sons and daughters,—his by creation, and his by the gift of his only-begotten Son for our redemption.” Review and Herald, December 8, 1896.
“All men have been bought with this infinite price [the precious blood of Jesus]. By pouring the whole treasury of heaven into this world, by giving us in Christ all heaven, God has purchased the will, the affections, the mind, the soul, of every human being. Whether believers or unbelievers, all men are the Lord’s property.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 326.
2 How dependent are we upon the Lord? Acts 17:25, 28; 1 Corinthians 4:7.
note: “All created beings live by the will and power of God. They are recipients of the life of the Son of God. However able and talented, however large their capacities, they are replenished with life from the source of all life. He is the spring, the fountain, of life.” My Life Today, 295.
“It is God who gives man the breath of life. We cannot originate; we can only collect that which God has originated. He is our guardian, our counsellor; and more than this, from His liberal supply we derive all the skill, tact, and ability that we possess. . . . All you possess is His gift, for you had nothing with which to create or purchase it. It is given you, not to become a wedge to separate you from Him, but to help you in doing His service.” In Heavenly Places, 302.
3 Who gives us power to get wealth? Deuteronomy 8:18.
note: “The Bible does not condemn the rich man because he is rich; it does not declare the acquisition of wealth to be a sin, nor does it say that money is the root of all evil. On the contrary, the Scriptures state that it is God who gives the power to get wealth. And this ability is a precious talent if consecrated to God and employed to advance His cause. The Bible does not condemn genius or art; for these come of the wisdom which God gives. We cannot make the heart purer or holier by clothing the body in sackcloth, or depriving the home of all that ministers to comfort, taste, or convenience.
“The Scriptures teach that wealth is a dangerous possession only when placed in competition with the immortal treasure. It is when the earthly and temporal absorbs the thoughts, the affections, the devotion which God claims, that it becomes a snare. Those who are bartering the eternal weight of glory for a little of the glitter and tinsel of earth, the everlasting habitations for a home which can be theirs but a few years at best, are making an unwise choice.” Counsels on Stewardship, 138, 139.
“The Bible condemns no man for being rich, if he has acquired his riches honestly. Not money, but the love of money, is the root of all evil. It is God who gives men power to get wealth; and in the hands of him who acts as God’s steward, using his means unselfishly, wealth is a blessing, both to its possessor and to the world. But many, absorbed in their interest in worldly treasures, become insensible to the claims of God and the needs of their fellow men. They regard their wealth as a means of glorifying themselves. They add house to house, and land to land; they fill their homes with luxuries, while all about them are human beings in misery and crime, in disease and death. Those who thus give their lives to self-serving are developing in themselves, not the attributes of God, but the attributes of the wicked one.” The Ministry of Healing, 212, 213.
4 What is our relation to the property that is in our possession? Luke 19:12–28.
note: “We are all living on probation. Those who have passed into their graves have been tested and tried, to see if they would realize their responsibility to serve God. A desire to glorify God should be to us the most powerful of all motives. It should lead us to make every exertion to improve the privileges and opportunities provided for us, to use wisely the Lord’s goods. It should lead us to keep brain, bone, and muscle in the most healthful condition, that our physical strength and mental clearness may help us to be faithful stewards. Selfish interest must ever be held subordinate; for if given room to act, it contracts the intellect, hardens the heart, and weakens moral power.” Lift Him Up, 366.
“Those who neglect known duty by not answering to God’s claims upon them in this life, and who soothe their consciences by calculating on making their bequests at death, will receive no words of commendation from the Master, nor will they receive a reward. They practiced no self-denial, but selfishly retained their means as long as they could, yielding it up only when death claimed them. That which many propose to defer until they are about to die, if they were Christians indeed they would do while they have a strong hold on life. They would devote themselves and their property to God, and, while acting as His stewards, they would have the satisfaction of doing their duty. By becoming their own executors, they could meet the claims of God themselves, instead of shifting the responsibility upon others. We should regard ourselves as stewards of the Lord’s property and God as the supreme proprietor, to whom we are to render His own when He shall require it. When He shall come to receive His own with usury, the covetous will see that instead of multiplying the talents entrusted to them, they have brought upon themselves the doom pronounced upon the unprofitable servant.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 480, 481.
5 What should we do with our property? Luke 12:33.
note: “I [Ellen White] saw that if any held on to their property and did not inquire of the Lord as to their duty, He would not make duty known, and they would be permitted to keep their property, and in the time of trouble it would come up before them like a mountain to crush them, and they would try to dispose of it, but would not be able. I heard some mourn like this: ‘The cause was languishing, God’s people were starving for the truth, and we made no effort to supply the lack; now our property is useless. Oh, that we had let it go, and laid up treasure in heaven!’ I saw that a sacrifice did not increase, but it decreased and was consumed. I also saw that God had not required all of His people to dispose of their property at the same time; but if they desired to be taught, He would teach them, in a time of need, when to sell and how much to sell. Some have been required to dispose of their property in times past to sustain the Advent cause, while others have been permitted to keep theirs until a time of need. Then, as the cause needs it, their duty is to sell.” Early writings, 57.
6 To whom is our first and highest duty? Ecclesiastes 12:13.
note: “Test your course of action by the first four commandments. These explicitly define our duty to God. He claims the undivided affections; and anything which tends to absorb the mind and divert it from God assumes the form of an idol. The true and living God is crowded out of the thoughts and heart, and the soul-temple is defiled by the worship of other gods before the Lord. ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,’ says the commandment. [Exodus 20:3.] Let us search the heart, compare the life and character with the statutes and precepts of Jehovah, and then seek diligently to correct our errors.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 632.
“All thetreasures of the world sink into insignificance when compared to the value of the mental and moral powers. And the healthful action of these faculties is dependent upon the physical health. Then how important that we know how to preserve health, that our duty to God and man may be performed according to His commandments. The laws of God are plain and distinct. No uncertainty beclouds any of them. None of them need ever be misunderstood. Those who cannot discern them are benumbed by their own wrong habits enfeebling their intellect.” In Heavenly Places, 193.
7 How can we honor the Lord with our substance? Proverbs 3:9; Deuteronomy 26:2.
note: “Christ is the source of all temporal, as well as all spiritual blessings. If he has given us riches, it is not that we may claim them as our own. ‘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. . . .’ [Matthew 6:19, 20.] Paul counted all things but loss that he might win Christ. But when the Saviour calls for our possessions and our service, there are many who see they cannot obey God and carry their earthly treasures with them, and they decide to stay by their treasures. . . .
“How can those who expect to stand around Christ’s throne, and to be clothed with His righteousness, distrust God, and fear that He will leave them to come to want? Where is their faith? Our heavenly Father feeds the ravens, and will He not much more feed us? . . .
“While it is lawful for us to acquire means, the money that we possess should be regarded as ours only in trust, not to be squandered, but spent in the Lord’s service. It should be our determined purpose to obey the orders of our Captain, and thus lay up for ourselves heavenly riches. Then, when everything in this world perishes, we shall have a treasure in the heavens, which faileth not.” Sons and Daughters of God, 234.
8 What proportion of our income has the Lord reserved as sacred to Him? Leviticus 27:30, 32.
note: “God has specified one tenth of the increase. This is left to the conscience and benevolence of men, whose judgment in this tithing system should have free play. And while it is left free to the conscience, a plan has been laid out definite enough for all. No compulsion is required.
“God called for men in the Mosaic dispensation to give the tenth of all their increase. He committed to their trust the things of this life, talents to be improved and returned to Him. He has required a tenth, and this He claims as the very least that man should return to Him. He says: I give you nine tenths, while I require one tenth; that is Mine. When men withhold the one tenth, they rob God. Sin offerings, peace offerings, and thank offerings were also required in addition to the tenth of the increase.
“All that is withheld of that which God claims, the tenth of the increase, is recorded in the books of heaven against the withholders, as robbery. Such defraud their Creator; and when this sin of neglect is brought before them, it is not enough for them to change their course and begin to work from that time upon the right principle. This will not correct the figures made in the heavenly record for embezzling the property committed to them in trust to be returned to the Lender. Repentance for unfaithful dealing with God, and for base ingratitude, is required.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 394.