“Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.”

An Unexpected Definition of "Pure Religion"

“Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.”

“ ‘Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.’ Good deeds are the fruit that Christ requires us to bear,—kind words, deeds of benevolence, tender regard for the poor, the needy, the afflicted. When hearts sympathize with hearts burdened with discouragement and grief, when the hand dispenses to the needy, when the naked are clothed, the stranger made welcome to a seat in your parlor and a place in your heart, angels are coming very near, and an answering strain is responded to in heaven. Every act of justice, mercy, and benevolence, makes melody in heaven. The Father from his throne beholds those who do these acts of mercy, and numbers them with his most precious treasures. ‘And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.’ Every merciful act to the needy and the suffering, is regarded as though done to Jesus. When you succor the poor, sympathize with the afflicted and oppressed, and befriend the orphan, you bring yourselves into a closer relationship to Jesus.

“Jesus identifies himself with his suffering children. It was I that was hungry and thirsty; it was I that was naked; it was I that was sick; it was I that was in prison. When you were enjoying the food from your bountifully spread tables, I was famishing in the hovel or street not far from you. When you closed your doors against me, while your well-furnished rooms were unoccupied, I had not where to lay my head. Your wardrobes were filled with an abundant supply of changeable suits of apparel, upon which means had been squandered which you might have given to the needy. I was destitute of comfortable apparel. When you were enjoying health, I was sick. Misfortune cast me into prison and bound me with fetters, bowing down my spirit, depriving me of freedom and hope, while you roamed free.

“What a oneness Jesus here expresses as existing between himself and his suffering disciples! He makes their cause his own. He identifies himself as being in person the very sufferer. . . .

“If those who have no children, and whom God has made stewards of means, would expand their hearts to care for children who need love and care, and the assistance of this world’s goods, they would be far happier than they are today. So long as youth who have not a father’s pitying care nor a mother’s tender love are exposed to the temptations and the corrupting influences of these last days, it is somebody’s duty to supply the place of father and mother to them. Learn to give them love and sympathy. All who profess to have a Father in heaven, who they hope will care for them and finally take them to the home he has prepared for them, ought to feel a solemn obligation to be friends to the friendless, and fathers to the orphan, to aid the widows, and be of some practical use in this world by benefiting humanity. Many have not viewed these things in a right light. Those who live merely for themselves, will have no greater strength than is developed through self-serving.

“Professed Christians should cultivate more affection and kind regard in caring for others, and they will be richly repaid. God knows for what object we live, and whether our living is put to the very best account for poor humanity, or whether our eyes are eclipsed to everything but our own interest, and to every one but our own poor selves. I entreat you, in behalf of Christ, in behalf of your own souls, and in behalf of the youth, not to think so lightly of this matter as many do. It is a grave, a serious thing, and affects your interest in the kingdom of Christ, inasmuch as the salvation of precious souls is involved. Why is it not a duty which God enjoins upon you who are able, to expend something for the benefit of the homeless, even though they may be ignorant and undisciplined? Shall you study to labor only in the direction where you will receive the most selfish pleasure and profit? It is not meet for you to neglect the divine favor that Heaven offers you of administering to those who need your care, thus letting God knock in vain at your door. He stands there in the person of the poor, the homeless orphans, and the afflicted widows, who need love, sympathy, and encouragement. If you do it not unto one of these, you would not do it unto Christ were he upon the earth. . . .

“Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. He made a sacrifice that he might provide a home for pilgrims and strangers in the world, seeking for a better country, even an heavenly. Shall those who are subjects of his grace, who are expecting to be heirs of immortality, refuse, or even feel reluctant, to share their homes with the homeless and needy? Shall we, who are disciples of Jesus, refuse strangers an entrance to our doors because they can claim no acquaintance with the inmates?

“Some plead poor health as an excuse for not rendering to others the service they would like to do if they had strength. Such have so long shut themselves up to themselves, and thought so much of their own poor feelings, and talked so much of their sufferings, trials, and afflictions, that it is their present truth. They can think of no one but self, however much others may be in need of sympathy and assistance. You who are suffering with poor health, there is a remedy for you. If thou clothe the naked, and bring the poor that are cast out to thy house, and deal thy bread to the hungry, ‘then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily.’ Doing good is an excellent remedy for disease. Those who engage in the work are invited to call upon God, and he has pledged himself to answer them. Their soul shall be satisfied in drought, and they shall be like a watered garden, whose waters fail not.

“You may say you have been imposed upon and have bestowed your means upon those unworthy of your charity, and therefore have become discouraged in trying to help the needy. I present Jesus before you. He came to save fallen man, to bring salvation to his own nation; but they would not accept him. They treated his mercy with insult and contempt, and at length they put to death Him who came for the purpose of giving them life. Did our Lord turn from the fallen race because of this? Your efforts for good may have been unsuccessful ninety-nine times, and you received only insult, reproach, and hate, yet if the one-hundredth time proves a success, and one soul is saved, oh, what a victory is achieved—one soul wrenched from Satan’s grasp, one soul benefited, one soul encouraged! This will a thousand times repay you for all your efforts. To you will Jesus say, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’ Should we not gladly do all we can to imitate the life of our divine Lord? Many shrink at the idea of making any sacrifice for others’ good. They are not willing to suffer for the sake of helping others. They flatter themselves that it is not required of them to disadvantage themselves for the benefit of others. To such we say, Jesus is our example.

“The poor, the homeless, and the widows are among us; and dare those whom God has made his stewards, to whom he has intrusted means, withhold from the needy disciples of Christ? If so, they withhold from Jesus. Do you expect the Lord to rain down grain from heaven to supply the needy? Has he not rather placed it in your hands, to help and bless them through you? Has he not made you his instrument in this good work to prove you, and to give you the privilege of laying up a treasure in heaven?” *

*Review and Herald, September 14, 1897.