"Lots" on Your Mind?

Sanctified, balanced thinking is a great essential of the ministry in this urgent final hour of history.

WILBUR K. NELSON, Department of Religion, Pacific Union College

A striking advertisement from a realtor in the midst of a booming land development might read:

"Come on in: We have lots on our mind!"

A concern of the real-tor is to be alert on prop­erty values. The buying and selling of lots is his daily business. He is ex­pected to have lots on on his mind. The minister isn't.

The precious lessons of sacrificial min­istry outlined by Christ in his hillside ser­mon include many pointed warnings for present-day apostles tempted to speculate in so-called real estate.

We must walk in heavenly places. We must know the topography of the holy city. For us especially it was said, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21).

Comfortable Preachers

Our generation of workers are the best paid, the most secure financially, and the most physically comfortable group of gos­pel ministers in the history of Christianity. We have regular wages with numerous benefits undreamed of by the fishermen of Galilee. In our day we may step from automated homes to jet propulsion to air-conditioned offices. "Doing good; living well" could characterize our life pattern. Thanking God for what we have, praying for more, maintaining an allusion of pov­erty lest the treasury withhold marginal benefits might typify some of today's dis­ciples. We all agree our income is modest. An attendant in a filling station in Amer­ica, with no experience beyond a paid week of training, possibly draws a higher salary than you with your broad experi­ence and an alphabetical accumulation after your name giving evidence of years of academic toil. Is it then "wrong" to have an extra home or two, a few small investments, "lots" on our mind. Cer­tainly I would not venture such a judg­ment. But, brethren, "is it time to receive money, and to receive garments, and olive-yards, and vineyards?" (2 Kings 5:26).

Gehazi Lost an Opportunity

What a chance was Gehazi's! The mantle that fell from the fiery chariot upon his master could one day have been his. But he lost it. In an hour of unexcelled evan­gelistic opportunity that might have led a whole nation to God, Gehazi had "lots" on his mind. Just in case ministerial em­ployment failed, it would be mighty wise to own a vineyard, reasoned Gehazi. Swift was the stroke of God's hand, dramatically recording for all ages the displeasure of the Almighty for self-serving ministers: "The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever" (2 Kings 5:27).

Sanctified, balanced thinking is a great essential of the ministry in this urgent final hour of history. How grateful we are for our comforts, but how tempting it is to desire to have them multiplied. God-ordained blessings for His cherished serv­ants are interwoven in the prophetic move­ment of the last days. With these come a sacred trust of undivided dedication to the work of Christ. The destructive devices of the devil as reflected in the Gehazi mental­ity remain a danger in our day. Let it not be heard: "Our pastor, bless his heart, is a likeable fellow, but you know he has been working on his house for the past year, and we really go home from the church hungry. And now he has bought the lot next door."

We were not called to speculate in a subdivision to sell the saints.

In admonition of the preacher who has "lots" on his mind, the great apostle who toiled with tears and sacrificed all for Christ has written:

"These men are heading for utter des­truction—their god is their own appetite; their pride is in what they should be ashamed of; and this world is the limit of their horizon. But we are citizens of Heaven; our outlook goes beyond this world to the hopeful expectation of the Savior who will come from Heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:19, 20).*

Lots on your mind? Yes—

Lots of sinners yet to reach,

Lots of souls truth to teach,

Lots of sermons yet to preach,

Lots of prayer devoted each.

NOTE: Extensive counsel on this topic is found in the Comprehensive Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White under "Busi­ness Speculation" and related topics. The counsel is succinctly summarized in The Acts of the Apostles, page 366: "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."

 

* From The New Testament in Modern English, © J. B. Phillips 1958. Used by permission of The Macmillan Company.

 


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WILBUR K. NELSON, Department of Religion, Pacific Union College

December 1965

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