Whether our responsibility centers in the local church or in general administrative work in any capacity, as leaders in the cause of God we need to be reminded often of the spiritual objectives that are before us and our believers, and need to have a knowledge of how these are attained. A clear understanding of the principles with which we are dealing is also essential, together with the factors at work in the work of redemption.
As a church, our collective objective is to preach the gospel of the soon-coming Saviour in all the world—to every kindred, nation, tongue, and people. Our objective for the individual member is that all who hear the good news and accept its provisions may be prepared to meet God. A world-wide dissemination of religious knowledge, even the fact of the second coming of Christ, would profit nothing, unless it resulted in preparing a people to meet Him. This, then—the preparation of a people to meet God—is the supreme objective of our mission activities.
The establishing and maintaining of such a world-wide mission program as is called for in preparation for Christ's return, of necessity involves the expenditure of large sums of money. These funds are provided largely by the membership, though a substantial sum is now realized from other sources. The gathering of the large amount required involves frequent and urgent appeals to our members, some of whom at times have been tempted to complain because of the frequency of these appeals. But the very experience of giving is designed of God to accomplish a distinctly necessary work in the heart of those who have a part in the work of self-denial and sacrifice for the cause of God.
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." It is "sin-full." Sin in the final analysis is being self-willed. Sin began in heaven by Satan when he determined, "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds : I will be like the Most High." Its beginnings in the heart of man were signaled by the decision to follow his own will contrary to the revealed will of God. Concerning this, we are told that "self-idolatry . . lies at the foundation of all sin," and that "pride, selfishness, and covetousness . . . are especially offensive to God."—"Testimonies," Vol. V, p. 337. And further, "Covetousness, selfishness, love of money, and love of the world, are all through the ranks of Sabbathkeepers. These evils are destroying the spirit of sacrifice among God's people."—Id., Vol. I, p. 140.
We are saved from sin through faith in Jesus as our Saviour, and this fact is demonstrated by the renovation of the life and character qualities—we change from evil to good through the transforming power of God. This is the work of sanctification. The opportunity of giving to meet the needs of the poor, or for the support of the cause of God, is designed of God to do a work of grace in the heart. It is His will that in giving, self will be dethroned, the attitude of self-serving will be lost from our lives, and our hearts will go out in sympathy and service for others. This is Heaven's spirit and plan. Of this we read:
"Our Redeemer, who knew man's danger in regard to covetousness, has provided a safeguard against this dreadful evil. He has arranged the plan of salvation so that it begins and ends in benevolence. Christ offered Himself, an infinite sacrifice. This, in and of itself, bears directly against covetousness and exalts benevolence.
"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."—Id., Vol. III, p. 548. (Italics mine.)
In view of this we are told that "we are never called upon to make a real sacrifice for God," for in the experience of self-denial comes a ministry of grace in the heart, which more than compensates for any material loss or hardship. It is from this viewpoint, too, that it truly is "more blessed to give than to receive." In the experience of giving comes not only the joy and satisfaction of helping others, but the strengthening of cords of love for those who stand in need of our help.
"No one can appreciate the blessings of redemption unless he feels that he can joyfully afford to make any and every sacrifice for the love of Christ. Every sacrifice made for Christ enriches the giver, and every suffering and privation endured for His dear sake increases the overcomer's final joy in heaven."—Id., Vol. IV, p. 219.
This, then, is the primary purpose of sacrificial giving—to enrich the giver spiritually. Let us ever hold this high purpose before our people, that they may be enriched spiritually because of their experience in giving. Let us in no sense feel apologetic in holding before them the needs of the cause, for rather than depriving them of means through receiving their gifts, we are giving opportunity for spiritual ministry to their hearts, in the making of an offering to the Lord.
In a particular sense, let us as workers at this time extend this privilege in the Week of Sacrifice. Let not this be an occasion for the ministry and institutional workers alone to have part, but let us extend the opportunity to our members generally, holding before them, first, the blessing of God which attends the humblest sacrifice begotten by love for Him, and second, the great needs of the cause of God. Let us ever hold before our membership the subjective blessing in sacrificial giving, being reminded that "all who follow Christ will wear the crown of sacrifice."