The Pearl of Great Price
Never are we to be cold and unsympathetic, especially when dealing with the poor. Courtesy, sympathy, and compassion are to be shown to all. Partiality for the wealthy is displeasing to God. Jesus is slighted when his needy children are slighted. They are not rich in this world’s goods, but they are dear to his heart of love. God recognizes no distinction or rank. With him there is no caste. In his sight, men are simply men, good or bad. In the day of final reckoning, position, rank, or wealth will not alter by a hair’s breadth the case of any one. By the all-seeing God, men will be judged by what they are in purity, in nobility, in love for Christ.
God lets his sun shine on the just and on the unjust. This sun represents Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, who shines on all alike, high and low, rich and poor. This principle is to guide those who work for him. From it no one can deviate, and be successful in his efforts to help his fellow beings.
Christ declared that the gospel is to be preached to the poor. Never does God’s truth put on an aspect of greater loveliness than when brought to the needy and destitute. Then it is that the light of the gospel shines forth in its most radiant clearness, lighting up the hut of the peasant and the rude cottage of the laborer. Angels of God are there, and their presence makes the crust of bread and the cup of water a banquet. Those who have been neglected and abandoned by the world are raised to be sons and daughters of the Most High. Lifted above any position that earth can give, they sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. They may have no earthly treasure, but they have found the pearl of great price.
E. G. White, Review and Herald, July 21, 1910
The apostle James has given definite counsel with regard to the manner in which we should treat the rich and the poor.
“For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.” James 2:2-9
Although Christ was rich in the heavenly courts, yet He became poor that we through His poverty might be made rich. Jesus honored the poor by sharing their humble condition. From the history of His life we are to learn how to treat the poor. Some carry the duty of beneficence to extremes and really hurt the needy by doing too much for them. The poor do not always exert themselves as they should. While they are not to be neglected and left to suffer, they must be taught to help themselves…
The poor should be treated with as much interest and attention as the rich. The practice of honoring the rich and slighting and neglecting the poor is a crime in the sight of God. Those who are surrounded with all the comforts of life, or who are petted and pampered by the world because they are rich, do not feel the need of sympathy and tender consideration as do persons whose lives have been one long struggle with poverty. The latter have but little in this life to make them happy or cheerful, and they will appreciate sympathy and love. Physicians and helpers should in no case neglect this class, for by so doing they may neglect Christ in the person of His saints…
It was not the purpose of God that poverty should every leave the world. The ranks of society were never to be equalized, for the diversity of condition which characterizes our race is one of the means by which God has designed to prove and develop character. Many have urged with great enthusiasm that all men should have an equal share in the temporal blessings of God, but this was not the purpose of the Creator. Christ has said that we shall have the poor always with us. The poor, as well as the rich, are the purchase of His blood; and among His professed followers, in most cases, the former serve Him with singleness of purpose, while the latter are constantly fastening their affections on their earthly treasures, and Christ is forgotten. The cares of this life and the greed for riches eclipse the glory of the eternal world. It would be the greatest misfortune that has ever befallen mankind if all were to be placed upon an equality in worldly possessions.
E. G. White, Testimonies For The Church, vol. 4, pp. 550-552
Very few realize the strength of their love for money until the test is brought to bear upon them. Many who profess to be Christ’s followers then show that they are unprepared for Heaven. Their works testify that they love wealth more than their neighbor or their God. Like the rich young man, they inquire the way of life; but when it is pointed out and the cost estimated, and they see that the sacrifice of earthly riches is demanded, they decide that Heaven costs too much. The greater the treasures laid up on the earth, the more difficult it is for the possessor to realize that they are not his own, but are lent him to be used to God’s glory. Jesus here improves the opportunity to give his disciples an impressive lesson: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23, 24
Here the power of wealth is seen. The influence of the love of money over the human mind is almost paralyzing. Riches infatuate, and cause many who possess them to act as though they were bereft of reason. The more they have of this world, the more they desire. Their fears of coming to want increase with their riches. They have a disposition to hoard up means for the future. They are close and selfish, fearing that God will not provide for them. This class are indeed poor toward God. As their riches have accumulated, they have put their trust in them, and have lost faith in God and his promises. The faithful, trusting poor man becomes rich toward God by judiciously using the little he has in blessing others with his means. He feels that his neighbor has claims upon him that he cannot disregard and yet obey the command of God, “Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself.” Matthew 22:39 He considers the salvation of his fellowmen of greater importance than all the gold and silver the world contains.
Christ points out the way in which those who have wealth, and yet are not rich toward God, may secure the true riches. He says: “Sell that ye have, and give alms;” and lay up treasure in Heaven. Luke 12:33 The remedy he proposes is a transfer of their affections to the eternal inheritance. By investing their means in the cause of God to aid in the salvation of souls, and by relieving the needy, they become rich in good works, and are “laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” I Timothy 6:19 This will prove a safe investment. But many show by their works that they dare not trust the bank of heaven. They choose to trust their means in the earth, rather than to send it before them to Heaven. These have a great work to do to overcome covetousness and love of the world. Rich poor men, professing to serve God, are objects of pity. While they profess to know God, in works they deny him. How great is the darkness of such! They profess faith in the truth, but their works do not correspond with their profession. The love of riches makes men selfish, exacting, and overbearing.
To obtain wealth by unjust dealing, overreaching in trade, oppressing the widow and the fatherless, or hoarding up riches and neglecting the wants of the needy, will eventually bring the just retribution described by the inspired apostle:
“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.” James 5:1-6
The humblest and poorest of the true disciples of Christ who are rich in good works, are more blessed and more precious in the sight of God than the men who boast of their great riches. They are more honorable in the courts of Heaven than the most exalted kings and nobles who are not rich toward God.
E. G. White, Review and Herald, January 15, 1880
The rich and the poor are to be treated alike, with unvarying kindness.
E. G. White, Medical Ministry, p. 205
“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? James 2:15, 16
Any neglect of duty to the needy and to the afflicted is a neglect of duty to Christ in the person of His saints. When the cases of all come in review before God, the question What did they profess? is never asked, but, What have they done? Have they been doers of the Word? Have they lived for themselves? or have they been exercised in works of benevolence, in deeds of kindness, in love preferring others before themselves, and denying themselves that they might bless others? If the record shows that this has been their life, that their characters have been marked with tenderness, self-denial, and benevolence, they will receive the blessed assurance and benediction from Christ, “Well done.”…
Our spiritual strength and blessing will be proportionate to the labor of love and good works which we perform. The injunction of the apostle is, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 Keeping the commandments of God requires of us good works, self-denial, self-sacrifice, and devotion for the good of others, not that our good works alone can save us, but that we surely cannot be saved without good works. After we have done all that we are capable of doing we are then to say, We have done no more than our duty, and at best are unprofitable servants, unworthy of the smallest favor from God. Christ must be our righteousness…
All around us there are those who have soul hunger and who long for love expressed in words and deeds. Friendly sympathy and real feelings of tender interest for others would bring to our souls blessings that we have never yet experienced, and would bring us into close relation to our Redeemer, whose advent to the world was for the purpose of doing good, and whose life we are to copy. What are we doing for Christ?
E. G. White, That I May Know Him, p. 334
Every extravagance should be cut out of our lives, for the time we have for work is short. All around us we see want and suffering. Families are in need of food; little ones are crying for bread. They houses of the poor lack proper furniture and bedding. Many live in mere hovels which are almost destitute of conveniences. The cry of the poor reaches to heaven. God sees; God hears. But many glorify themselves. While their fellow men are poor and hungry, suffering for want of food, they expend much on their tables and eat for more than they require. What an account men will by and by have to render for their selfish use of God’s money! Those who disregard the provision God has made for the poor will find not only that they have robbed their fellow men, but that in robbing them they have robbed God and have embezzled His goods.
E. G. White, Testimonies For The Church, vol. 6, p. 385