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In the contemplation of Christ, we linger on the shore of a love that is measureless. We endeavor to tell of this love, and language fails us.
We consider His life on earth, His sacrifice for us, His work in heaven as our advocate, and the mansions He is preparing for those who love Him; and we can only exclaim, O the height and depth of the love of Christ!“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.":
In every true disciple, this love, like sacred fire, burns on the altar of the heart. It was on the earth that the love of God was revealed through Christ. It is on the earth that His children are to reflect this love through blameless lives. Thus sinners will be led to the cross, to behold the Lamb of God.
? 1 John 4:10; 3:1.
A Liberal Church
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:
“Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? or saith He it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
“If we have sown unto you spiritual things, the apostle further inquired, “is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be
partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the
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. “Verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law.” The tribe of Levi was chosen by the Lord for the sacred offices pertaining to the temple and the priesthood. Of the priest it was said, “The Lord thy God hath chosen him ... to stand to minister in the name of the Lord.": One tenth of all the increase was claimed by the Lord as His own, and to withhold the tithe was regarded by Him as robbery.
It was to this plan for the support of the ministry that Paul referred when he said, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” And later, in writing to Timothy, the apostle said, “The laborer is worthy of his reward." +
The payment of the tithe was but a part of God's plan for the support of His service.
Numerous ? Heb. 7:5.
11 Cor. 9:7-14.
• 1 Tim. 5:18.
gifts and offerings were divinely specified. Under the Jewish system, the people were taught to cherish a spirit of liberality, both in sustaining the cause of God and in supplying the wants of the needy. For special occasions there were freewill-offerings. At the harvest and the vintage, the first-fruits of the field — corn, wine, and oil — were consecrated as an offering to the Lord. The gleanings and the corners of the field were reserved for the poor. The first-fruits of the wool when the sheep were shorn, of the grain when the wheat was threshed, were 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.
By this system of benevolence 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.
It is not God's purpose that Christians, whose privileges far exceed those of the Jewish nation, shall give less freely than they gave. “Unto whomsoever much is given,” the Saviour declared, “of him shall be much required.” * The liberality required of the Hebrews was largely to benefit their own nation; to-day the work of God extends over
5 Luke 12:48.
all the earth. In the hands of His followers, Christ has placed the treasures of the gospel, and upon them He has laid the responsibility of giving the glad tidings of salvation to the world. Surely our obligations are much greater than were those of ancient Israel.
As God's work extends, calls for help will come more and more frequently. That these calls may be answered, Christians should heed the command, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house.” If professing Christians would faithfully bring to God their tithes and offerings, His treasury would be full. There would then be no occasion to resort to fairs, lotteries, or parties of pleasure to secure funds for the support of the gospel.
Men are tempted to use their means in selfindulgence, 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!
He whose heart is aglow with the love of Christ will regard it as not only a duty, but a pleasure, to