Gods Proclamation of Faith
The proclamation of God; He has made His proclamation of the gospel dependent upon the labors and the gifts of His people.
Voluntary offerings and the tithe constitute the revenue of the Lord’s work. Of the means entrusted to man, God claims a certain portion,—the tenth. He leaves all free to say whether or not they will give more than this.
But when the heart is stirred by the influence of the Holy Spirit, and a vow is made to give a certain amount, the one who vows has no longer any right to the consecrated portion.
Promises of this kind made to men would be looked upon as binding; are those not more binding that is made to God?
Are promises tried in the court of conscience less binding than written agreements of men?
When divine light is shining into the heart with unusual clearness and power, habitual selfishness relaxes its grasp and there is a disposition to give to the cause of God. But none need to think that they will be allowed to fulfill the promises they made, without a protest on the part of Satan.
He is not pleased to see the Redeemer’s kingdom on earth built up. He suggests that the pledge made was too much, that it may cripple them in their efforts to acquire property or gratify the desires of their families.
It is God who blesses men with property, and He does this that they may be able to give toward the advancement of His cause. He sends the sunshine and the rain. He causes vegetation to flourish. He gives health and the ability to acquire means.
All our blessings come from His bountiful hand. In turn, He would have men and women show their gratitude by returning Him a portion in tithes and offerings—in thank offerings, in freewill offerings, in trespass offerings. Should means flow into the treasury by this divinely appointed plan,—a tenth of all the increase, and liberal offerings,—there would be an abundance for the advancement of the Lord’s work.
But the hearts of men become hardened through selfishness, and, like Ananias and Sapphira, they are tempted to withhold part of the price, while pretending to fulfill God’s requirements. Many spend money lavishly in self-gratification. Men and women consult their pleasure and gratify their taste, while they bring to God, almost unwillingly, a stinted offering.
They forget that God will one day demand a strict account of how His goods have been used and that He will no more accept the pittance they hand into the treasury than He accepted the offering of Ananias and Sapphira.
From the stern punishment meted out to those perjurers, God would have us learn also how deep is His hatred and contempt for all hypocrisy and deception. In pretending that they had given all, Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit, and, as a result, they lost this life and the life that is to come.
The same God who punished them, today condemns all falsehood. Lying lips are an abomination to Him. He declares that into the Holy City “there shall in no wise enter … anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, nor maketh a lie.” Revelation 21:27. Let truth-telling be held with no loose hand or uncertain grasp.
The Proclamation of God
Let the proclamation of God become a part of life. Playing fast and loose with truth, and dissembling to suit one’s own selfish plans, means shipwreck of faith.
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.” Ephesians 6:14.
He who utters untruths sells his soul in a cheap market. His falsehoods may seem to serve in emergencies; he may thus seem to make business advancement that he could not gain by fair dealing; but he finally reaches the place where he can trust no one. Himself a falsifier, he has no confidence in the word of others.
In the case of Ananias and Sapphira, the sin of fraud against God was speedily punished. The same sin was often repeated in the after history of the church and is committed by many in our time. But though it may not be attended by the visible manifestation of God’s displeasure, it is no less heinous in His sight now than in the apostles’ time.
The warning has been given; God has clearly manifested His abhorrence of this sin, and all who give themselves up to hypocrisy and covetousness may be sure that they are destroying their own souls.