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    VII. SYSTEMATIC GIVING.

    It will be readily seen that so far as tithes are concerned, the Bible plan of supporting the cause is very systematic. Each one gives in the same proportion. There is no fixed time at which persons should set apart their tithe, because it is to be the first-fruits of whatever they may receive, at whatever time it may come in. Whenever a man receives any part of his income, his first duty should be to take out the Lord’s tithe, putting it in a place by itself. If he should at once credit his cash account with the amount of tithe set aside, he would be doing more nearly right still, for since the tithe does not belong to him, his books show just what money he really has on hand. There would then be less temptation to use the tithe while it remains in his hands, for the fact that it is not his own would appear more real. As to when the tithe should be paid into the treasury, will often depend on circumstances; many churches, however, have an arrangement for the treasurer to visit each member once a month, to collect whatever tithes they may have on hand. This plan has many advantages, but it does not hinder anybody from handing in his tithe during the interval, if he so desires.HDTG 50.2

    The fact can be well-established, I think, that the Bible plan is that men should also be systematic in their offerings. Why should we not think so? “God is not the author of confusion,” and there is order and system in his works. But we need not depend on our unassisted reason for the establishment of systematic offerings. A familiar Bible text settles the matter beyond controversy. We quote:—HDTG 51.1

    “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.” 1 Corinthians 16:1-3.HDTG 52.1

    It is evident from even a casual reading of this text that the apostle has reference to offerings, and not to the tithes. For (1) that which the churches were to lay aside is called “liberality,” a term that, as we have seen, cannot be applied to the tithe. (2) Paul said that this especial contribution was “for the poor saints which are in Jerusalem.” Romans 15:26; but the tithe, we remember, was not used for the support of the poor. And (3) the tithe is the first-fruits of the increase, and could not therefore always be paid on any day of the week; for while some might every day be receiving that which they could tithe, others might not receive anything as often as once a month.HDTG 52.2

    The question will arise, Was this order designed to be followed by all Christians, or was it merely a local and temporary arrangement? We answer, that while the necessity for this special collection would soon cease to exist, the plan is one that should be pursued by all. The fact that the apostle made the arrangement, not for one church merely, but for many, and that it was of sufficient importance to be preserved in the inspired writings for all generations, is sufficient evidence of this. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable.” We can see nothing more toward profit in this text, than that our offerings to the poor and to various worthy objects, should be according to a definite plan.HDTG 52.3

    When God gave laws through Moses for the government of his people, he gave direction concerning the poor as follows: “If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother; but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.” Deuteronomy 15:7, 8. The word “lend” is used here, but the verses following plainly shows that they were to expect no return; and he immediately after follows the statement, “For the poor shall never cease out of the land.”HDTG 53.1

    The New Testament abounds in exhortations by Christ and the apostles, to care for the poor, and the quotation last made was reaffirmed by Christ shortly before his crucifixion, when he said, “For ye have the poor always with you.” Matthew 26:11.HDTG 53.2

    Now, query: If it is our duty to care for the poor, and they are to be ever-present with us, would it not be negligence on our part, if we did not make constant provision for them? Is it not because people let their offerings depends so much upon impulse, that there is so much suffering among the poor? Much needless suffering would be avoided if all made systematic offerings as a matter of principle. The heart is often touched by scenes of woe, or by appeals for aid, but, because no previous preparation has been made, we have nothing to give, and our sympathy is useless. To say to a brother or sister, “Be ye warmed and filled,” or to wish it, and not give them those things which are needful to the body, profits no more at the present time than it did in the days of the apostles.HDTG 53.3

    The text under consideration (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2) plainly teaches that our offerings, for the poor at least, are to be made from a fund which is the result of sums of money regularly set apart for that purpose. These weekly deposits are to be made after a calculation of our income, of which they are to be a definite proportion. What that proportion should be, each one must determine for himself. The amount once laid aside, it should be considered as sacred as the tithe. Although it is in our own power to say how much we will give, whether more or less, when the amount to be given is decided in our minds, we have placed the matter out of our own hands. Having once vowed, even though the vow were not uttered a record of it is made in Heaven, and God will surely require it of us. “When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it; for the Lord thy God will surely require of thee; and it would be sin in thee.” Deuteronomy 23:21. As was recommended in the case of the tithe, a good way to do is to not only set the sum apart in a place by itself; but place it to the credit of our cash account; then there will be less danger of temptation to use it for ourselves.HDTG 54.1

    But some one will say, “I don’t believe God wants us to give because we feel obliged to; I believe he would better have us give cheerfully; and there is something repulsive in such a methodical way of making offerings.” Well, excepting the last statement, we believe just so too. But is it so that God is more pleased with service that is performed fitfully, yea, almost by accident, than with that service which is the result of a settled purpose? Does he take greater delight in one who gives to his cause or to the poor on a certain occasion, because it happens to be convenient, than in one who makes it convenient to give whenever there is need? Most assuredly not. Joshua said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord;” and his pious determination stands as a continual rebuke to those who neglect to choose once for all the course they will pursue.HDTG 55.1

    Let us hear the words of the apostles: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God love with a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7. Our giving is to be the result of a cheerful determination. God loves a cheerful giver yet he is pleased that we should have a previous “purpose” in our hearts. It is with giving as with any other service, it should be done from principle, yet willingly. Take, for instance, the Sabbath. There is a specific command for its observance, and all our plans in all time, are to be made with reference to it. The commandment is unconditional and unyielding; and yet God requires us to “call the Sabbath a delight.” The fact is, if the duty is irksome, our only way is to do it faithfully, and make ourselves like it. And if we go about in the duty from principle, resolved to like it because it is our duty, God will give us grace to find in it our highest pleasure. The carnal mind is enmity against God, and not subject to his law but it is possible for us to be so changed as to love him, and to delight in his law.HDTG 55.2

    One more thought in regard to systematic giving. Paul desired that the Corinthians should “abound in this grace also.” 2 Corinthians 8:7. The ability to give, then, is one of the graces, and like all others is bestowed by God. Verses 1, 2. But graces grow only by constant exercise; therefore there should be constant giving, else we shall be lacking in one of the graces, and thus fail of eternal life. The great object to giving is after all more for our own benefit than for the benefit of others. God could miraculously supply the wants of his cause and of the poor, but we would be the losers. We must be like Christ if we would inherit the kingdom of God; and of him we are told that “though he was rich,” yet for our sake “he became poor.” Perfect unselfishness characterized his whole life. Unlike him, selfishness is that which prompts every act of our natural heart, the only way to overcome is by a determined performance of those things which selfishness would lead us to avoid. As Napoleon said, “Find out what the enemy wants, and then do exactly the opposite.” This plan, persistently followed, will drive the enemy from the field, and give us a glorious victory.HDTG 56.1

    The greatest favor God can bestow upon us in this life is to allow us to have a part in giving to his cause, and to the poor. If God should transform us into the divine image, by an act of his mighty power, we would not be the gainers thereby, for we would be liable to fall with the first temptation that presented itself; and if, having transformed us, he should keep us in that condition by the same power, we would be mere machines. God designs that we shall work out our own salvation, in order that we may have a moral character of our own; he will give us assistance, without which we can do nothing, yet we must do the work ourselves.HDTG 57.1

    What has been said concerning systematic offerings is not designed to cut off special offerings. Thank offerings and sin offerings are as necessary now as in the days of Moses, and every Christian will feel called upon at times to make them. This we should do whenever the necessity arises, but should not even then neglect to “lay in store” our regular contribution. We would again emphasize the fact that the benefit to be derived from offerings is gained only by continuous giving. If our whole contribution would amount to about five dollars, it would be far better to pay ten cents every week than to pay the entire sum at the end of the year. It would be as wise to think of doing all our praying on the first or last day of the year, has to do all our giving for the year at one time, and then think know more about it.HDTG 57.2

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