September 10, 2006 – September 16, 2006
“And all the tithe of the land, [whether] of the seed of the land, [or] of the fruit of the tree, [is] the Lord’s: [it is] holy unto the Lord.” Leviticus 27:30.
Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 3, 545–547.
“We are to praise God by tangible service, by doing all in our power to advance the glory of His name. God imparts His gifts to us that we also may give, and thus make known His character to the world. Under the Jewish economy, gifts and offerings formed an essential part of God’s worship. The Israelites were taught to devote a tithe of all their income to the service of the sanctuary. Besides this they were to bring sin offerings, free-will gifts, and offerings of gratitude. These were the means for supporting the ministry of the gospel for that time. God expects no less from us than He expected from His people anciently. The great work for the salvation of souls must be carried forward. In the tithe, with gifts and offerings, He has made provision for this work. Thus He intends that the ministry of the gospel shall be sustained. He claims the tithe as His own, and it should ever be regarded as a sacred reserve, to be placed in His treasury for the benefit of His cause. He asks also for our free-will gifts and offerings of gratitude. All are to be devoted to the sending of the gospel unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 300.
1 What portion of a man’s substance has God reserved as His? Leviticus 27:30.
note: “The Lord has specified: The tenth of all your possessions is Mine; your gifts and offerings are to be brought into the treasury, to be used to advance My cause, to send the living preacher to open the Scriptures to those who sit in darkness.” Messages to Young People, 308.
“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 recognize 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.” Education, 137.
2 Can a man dispose of that which is the Lord’s as he chooses? Leviticus 27:26; Deuteronomy 15:19.
note: “The Lord sought to teach Israel that in everything He must be first. Thus they were reminded that God was the proprietor of their fields, their flocks, and their herds; that it was He who sent them the sunshine and the rain that developed and ripened the harvest. Everything that they possessed was His; they were but the stewards of His goods. . . .
“Men are tempted to use their means in self-indulgence, in the gratification of appetite, in personal adornment, or in the embellishment of their homes. For these objects many church members do not hesitate to spend freely and even extravagantly. But when asked to give to the Lord’s treasury, to carry forward His work in the earth, they demur. Perhaps, feeling that they cannot well do otherwise, they dole out a sum far smaller than they often spend for needless indulgence. They manifest no real love for Christ’s service, no earnest interest in the salvation of souls. What marvel that the Christian life of such ones is but a dwarfed, sickly existence!” The Acts of the Apostles, 337, 338.
3 What class of offerings connected with the tithe went to the priest? Nehemiah 10:37.
note: “Even before the tithe could be reserved there had been an acknowledgment of the claims of God. The first that ripened of every product of the land was consecrated to Him. The first of the wool when the sheep were shorn, of the grain when the wheat was threshed, the first of the oil and the wine, was set apart for God. So also were the first-born of all animals; and a redemption price was paid for the first-born son. The first fruits were to be presented before the Lord at the sanctuary, and were then devoted to the use of the priests.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 526.
“Of all our income we should make the first appropriation to God. In the system of beneficence enjoined upon the Jews they were required either to bring to the Lord the first fruits of all His gifts, whether in the increase of their flocks or herds, or in the produce of their fields, orchards, or vineyards, or they were to redeem it by substituting an equivalent.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 474.
4 What does God say of those who withhold tithes and offerings from His treasury? Malachi 3:8, 9.
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.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 394.
“In that day when every man shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body, every excuse that selfishness may now make for withholding the tithe, the gifts and offerings, from the Lord will melt away as the dew before the sun. If it were not forever too late, how glad would many be to go back and rebuild their characters! But it will be too late then to change the record of those who, weekly, monthly, and yearly, have robbed God. Their destiny will be fixed, unalterably fixed. . . .
“Selfishness is a deadly evil. Self-love and careless indifference to the specific terms of agreement between God and man, the refusal to act as his faithful stewards, have brought upon them His curse, just as He declared would be the case. These souls have separated themselves from God; by precept and example they have led others to disregard God’s plain commandments, and He could not bestow His blessing upon them.” Messages to Young People, 307, 308.
5 What promise does God make to His people if they bring their tithes and offerings into the storehouse? Malachi 3:10, 11.
note: “Duty is duty, and should be performed for its own sake. But the Lord has compassion upon us in our fallen condition, and accompanies his commands with promises. He calls upon his people to prove him, declaring that he will reward obedience with the richest blessings. [Malachi 3:10, 11 quoted.]” The Southern Watchman, February 14, 1905.
“Those who are selfishly withholding their means need not be surprised if God’s hand scatters their possessions. That which should have been devoted to the advancement of his work and cause, but which has been withheld, may in various ways be taken away. God will come near to them in judgments. Many losses will be sustained. God can scatter the means he has lent to his stewards, if they refuse to use it to his glory. Some may have none of these losses to remind them of their remissness in duty, but their cases may be the more hopeless.” Ibid., February 21, 1905.
6 If while passing the flock under the rod to be tithed, the owner, for any cause, sought to exchange the tenth for some other, what direction did God give? Leviticus 27:32, 33.
note: “The Lord declared that he required his husbandmen to give him the returns of his vineyard. Men are not to use their possessions as their own, but only as intrusted to them. The Lord’s portion is to be faithfully returned to him. [Leviticus 27:30–33 quoted.]
“The statutes regarding the Lord’s portion were often repeated that the people might not forget them. They were to return to God his rental money. This he claimed as his portion. Their physical and mental powers as well as their money were to be used for him. His vineyard was to be faithfully cultivated, so that a large income could be returned to him in tithes and offerings. A portion was to be set apart for the sustenance of the ministry, and was to be used for no other purpose. Gifts and offerings were to be made to relieve the necessity of the church. Means was to be appropriated for the relief of the poor and suffering.” Review and Herald, July 17, 1900.
7 What instruction is given regarding the duty of those who receive the blessing of the gospel? Galatians 6:6; Romans 15:27.
note: “The plan of systematic benevolence is pleasing to God. I [Ellen White] was pointed back to the days of the apostles, and saw that God laid the plan by the descent of His Holy Spirit, and that by the gift of prophecy He counseled His people in regard to a system of benevolence. All were to share in this work of imparting of their carnal things to those who ministered unto them in spiritual things.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 190.
8 How does the apostle enjoin this duty? 1 Corinthians 9:6–11.
note: “In His first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul gave the believers instruction regarding the general principles underlying the support of God’s work in the earth. Writing of his apostolic labors in their behalf, he inquired: [1 Corinthians 9:7–14 quoted].
“The apostle here referred to the Lord’s plan for the maintenance of the priests who ministered in the temple. Those who were set apart to this holy office were supported by their brethren, to whom they ministered spiritual blessings.” The Acts of the Apostles, 335, 336.
9 How does the apostle show that the ministry should be supported? 1 Corinthians 9:13, 14.
note: “As a gospel minister, it was Paul’s privilege to claim a support from those for whom he labored. But though he became the servant of all, yet he worked with his hands to support himself, that none might find occasion to charge him with selfishness. He did not receive wages for his labor, though as a minister of the gospel this was his right. Thus he made it evident that he was working for souls, not for money. . . .
“Paul did not depend upon man for his ordination. He had received from the Lord his commission and ordination. He regarded his ministerial labor as a privilege. To him it was not a duty performed in return for money. He labored for the souls of men. . . . He studied constantly how to make his testimony of the greatest effect. He sought the approval of God.
“Would that today men might be found with faith to do as Paul did, men who would preach the gospel, not looking to men for their reward, but willing to receive their reward in souls (MS 74, 1903).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1088.