Speculation and the Ministry

There are two lessons which the Christian worker must learn when he turns his back upon the world to follow "righteousness, godli­ness, faith, love, patience, meekness"—the lessons of godliness and contentment.

By J. L. SHAW, Chairman of Board, College of Medical Evangelists

The word "speculation" may signify meditation, contemplation, pondering a subject in its different aspects and rela­tions. Such speculation by the ministry is appropriate. But "speculation" in another sense means "to enter into a business transac­tion, or venture, from which the profits or returns are conjectural, because the under­taking is out of the ordinary course of busi­ness; to purchase or sell with the expectation of profiting by anticipated, but conjectural, fluctuations in price; to engage in hazardous business transactions for the chance of an unusually large profit." For ministers of the gospel to be connected with any such specula­tion is to step over onto ground where the ambassador for God is never sent, and where he operates outside the province of his divine commission.

I like to study the experience of Paul, and the counsel he gave: "Brethren, . . . this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark." The apostle Paul had one great, absorbing pur­pose,—that he might "be found in Him [Christ]," clothed with the "righteousness of God which is by faith." Herein lies the secret of true success in the ministry: having one great purpose in view,—the consecration of our heart, our faculties, our hands, our busi­ness, and the strength of manhood and woman­hood for the one supreme endeavor—to repre­sent Christ.

An Enticing Temptation

The enemy is closing in upon the servants of God to cause their defeat in one way or another, and to some the pathway of specula­tion seems enticing. A man may start on the road of speculation with the best of inten­tions, and land in a place entirely beyond all thought or expectation. Speculation often leads to theft, deceit, and even actual robbery; and this tragic drama has repeatedly occurred within our own Seventh-day Adventist ranks. Far too often has been witnessed the pitiful plight of men who started some speculation with all honesty of heart; but one thing led to another, with the result that they were dis­graced and brokenhearted, and their connec­tion with the work of God was severed.

Definite warning and instruction has been given to ministers, which, if heeded, would prevent much loss and sorrow. Nothing could be plainer or more specific than the following:

"Ministers cannot do acceptable work for God, and at the same time carry the burden of large personal business enterprises. Such a division of interest dims their spiritual perception. . . . The energies of the minister are all needed for his high calling. His best powers belong to God. He should not engage in speculation, or in any other business that would turn him aside from his great work. . . . The minister who is wholly consecrated to God refuses to engage in business that would hinder him from giving himself fully to his sacred calling. . . . It is not God's will that His ministers should seek to be rich."—"Acts of the Apostles," pp. 365, 366.

"Especially should the minister keep himself from every worldly entanglement, and bind himself to the Source of all power, that he may represent cor­rectly what it means to be a Christian. He should cut loose from everything that would in any way divert his mind from God and the great work for this time."—"Testimonies," Vol. V, p. 531.

Commercial speculation is one of the evils growing out of that root of all evil, "the love of money," as set forth by Paul in his admoni­tion to Timothy:

"They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil : which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things ; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." 1 Tim. 6:9-11.

In dealing with this question it is well to begin at the root in order to make thorough work in eradication. I might write down a long list of sins—selfishness, covetousness, avarice, greed, sharp dealing, speculation, lying, stealing, envy, malice, hatred, robbery, murder, and so on, ad libitum, for they are legion. But the root of the whole crop is "the love of money."

It is a strange fact that we seldom meet Christians who are willing to acknowledge that they love money. They may admit that there are avaricious people, but they claim that such are spending their lives in putting over finan­cial deals in the business world and are not workers in the cause of God. There are very few of us who will admit 'that we love money.. The most popular confessor of the Middle Ages said that of all the tens of thousands of people who came to him to confess their sins, not one man or one woman ever confessed to him the sin of the love of money. But a real test is on in the church of God. The evil one does not exempt any from this temptation.

There are two lessons which the Christian worker must learn when he turns his back upon the world to follow "righteousness, godli­ness, faith, love, patience, meekness"—the lessons of godliness and contentment. Paul as­sures us that when these lessons are perfectly mastered, there is great gain. "Godliness with contentment is great gain." When we have learned these lessons, the temptation to engage in speculation will never place its fascinating grip upon us.

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By J. L. SHAW, Chairman of Board, College of Medical Evangelists

November 1938

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