We Are to Recognise God's Ownership. --That which lies at the foundation of
business integrity and of true success is the recognition of God's ownership.
The Creator of all things, He is the original proprietor. We are His stewards.
All that we have is a trust from Him, to be used according to His direction.
This is an obligation that rests upon every human being. It has to do with
the whole sphere of human activity. Whether we recognise it or not, we are
stewards, supplied from God with talents and facilities and placed in the world
to do a work appointed by Him.
Money is not ours; houses and grounds, pictures and furniture, garments and
luxuries, do not belong to us. We are pilgrims, we are strangers. We have only a
grant of those things that are necessary for health and life. . . . Our temporal
blessings are given us in trust, to prove whether we can be entrusted with
eternal riches. If we endure the proving of God, then we shall receive that
purchased possession which is to be our own--glory, honour, and immortality.
We Must Give an Account. --If our own people would only put into the cause of
God the money that has been lent them in trust, that portion which they spend in
selfish gratification, in idolatry, they would lay up treasure in heaven, and
would be doing the very work God requires them to do. But like the rich man in
the parable, they live sumptuously. The money God has lent them in trust, to be
used to His name's glory, they spend extravagantly. They do not stop to consider their accountability to God. They
do not stop to consider that there is to be a reckoning day not far hence, when
they must give an account of their stewardship.
We should ever remember that in the judgement we must meet the record of the
way we use God's money. Much is spent in self-pleasing, self-gratification, that
does us no real good, but positive injury. If we realise that God is the giver
of all good things, that the money is His, then we shall exercise wisdom in its
expenditure, conforming to His holy will. The world, its customs, its fashions,
will not be our standard. We shall not have a desire to conform to its
practices; we shall not permit our own inclinations to control us.
In our use of money we can make it an agent of spiritual improvement by
regarding it as a sacred trust, not to be employed to administer to pride,
vanity, appetite, or passion.
I was shown that the recording angel makes a faithful record of every
offering dedicated to God and put into the treasury and also of the final result
of the means thus bestowed. The eye of God takes cognizance of every farthing
devoted to His cause and of the willingness or reluctance of the giver. The
motive in giving is also chronicled.
Systematic Giving for the Family. --"Let every one of you lay by him in
store, as God hath prospered him." Every member of the family, from the
oldest down to the youngest, may take part in this work of benevolence. . . .
The plan of systematic benevolence[* NOTE: REFERENCE IS HERE MADE TO PLANS
FOLLOWED EARLY BY THE CHURCH IN LAYING ASIDE WEEKLY THE TITHES AND OFFERINGS.--
COMPILERS .] will prove a safeguard to every family against temptations to spend means for needless things, and especially will it prove a blessing to the
rich by guarding them from indulging in extravagances.
Every week the demands of God upon each family are brought to mind by each of
its members fully carrying out the plan; and as they have denied themselves some
superfluity in order to have means to put into the treasury, lessons of value in
self-denial for the glory of God have been impressed upon the heart. Once a week
each is brought face to face with the doings of the past week-- the income that
he might have had if he had been economical, and the means that he does not have
because of indulgence. His conscience is reined up, as it were, before God and
either commends or accuses him. He learns that if he retains peace of mind and
the favour of God, he must eat and drink and dress to His glory.
Make God's Requirements First. --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.
Remember the Needy Poor. --If we represent the character of Christ, every
particle of selfishness must be expelled from the soul. In carrying forward the
work He gave to our hands, it will be necessary for us to give every jot and
tittle of our means that we can spare. Poverty and distress in families will
come to our knowledge, and afflicted and suffering ones will have to be
relieved. We know very little of the human suffering that exists everywhere
about us; but as we have opportunity, we should be ready to render immediate
assistance to those who are under a severe pressure.
The squandering of money in luxuries deprives the poor of the means necessary
to supply them with food and clothing. That which is spent for the gratification
of pride in dress, in buildings, in furniture, and in decorations would relieve
the distress of many wretched, suffering families. God's stewards are to
minister to the needy.
God's Remedy for Selfishness and Covetousness. -- The giving that is the
fruit of self-denial is a wonderful help to the giver. It imparts an education
that enables us more fully to comprehend the work of Him who went about doing
good, relieving the suffering, and supplying the needs of the destitute.
Constant, self-denying benevolence is God's remedy for the cankering sins of
selfishness and covetousness. God has arranged systematic benevolence to sustain
His cause and relieve the necessities of the suffering and needy. He has
ordained that giving should become a habit, that it may counteract the dangerous
and deceitful sin of covetousness. Continual giving starves covetousness to
death. Systematic benevolence is designed in the order of God to tear away
treasures from the covetous as fast as they are gained, and to consecrate them to the Lord, to whom they belong.
. . .
The constant practice of God's plan of systematic benevolence weakens
covetousness and strengthens benevolence. If riches increase, men, even those
professing godliness, set their hearts upon them; and the more they have, the
less they give to the treasury of the Lord. Thus riches make men selfish, and
hoarding feeds covetousness; and these evils strengthen by active exercise. God
knows our danger and has hedged us about with means to prevent our own ruin. He
requires the constant exercise of benevolence, that the force of habit in good
works may break the force of habit in an opposite direction.