THE time has come for our ministers to speak out specifically on wills, trusts, and legacies. Not in pressure but in sound education of the church. And it should come from the pulpit and from the counseling room.
Many manifest a needless delicacy on this point. They feel that they are stepping upon forbidden ground when they introduce the subject of property to the aged or to invalids in order to learn what disposition they design to make of it. But this duty is just as sacred as the duty to preach the word to save souls. --Counsels on Stewardship, pp. 323, 324.
In recent years I have been shaken again and again by the lack of under standing or concern of my friends when someone mentions these matters or trusts. And I shudder now to think of my own neglect for such a long time.
Procrastination in these things is not only sleeping in the deathbed of the sinner, it is taking others with us. And the loss is not only for the church member but also for the work of God.
The work of God is losing astonishing amounts of money, millions of dollars. But more tragic is the loss of souls.
One of the most contradictory facts in Christian lives is that few of us give this kind of stewardship more than a passing thought. And when we do it is often too late or we hesitantly stumble and step off in ways beyond sound reason. There is reason to believe that not more than one out of ten of our members gives careful, godly study to how or to whom they will give the things they have spent a lifetime acquiring (ibid. p. 323).
And yet the church is the safest place in the world today to invest while we live and when we die.
God holds us completely, eternally responsible. His instructions are specific.
Some will remind you of occasions of poor conference management or institutional investment. They may be right, but this will not be an excuse to God when we channel our assets unnecessarily to our children and other relatives instead of the church.
Our conferences and institutions are rapidly taking steps to remedy these mistakes. They are involving able laymen in counsel and management. And we must remember that God knows and watches over all. Eternity is at stake here.
Kind but direct action is indicated by our ministers. Even larger involvement of qualified laymen should be ensured. We tend to tiptoe in this area while Satan wreaks havoc. We often stand aside, mouths open, uninformed, and wonder why our offerings are so much less in proportion to our tithes.
But God holds us accountable. "For evils that we might have checked, we are just as responsible as if we were guilty of the acts ourselves." --The Desire of Ages, p. 441.
Is there any greater gospel to give to our people than total stewardship? Other churches (Nazarene, Jehovah's Witnesses, et cetera) who stress this are reaping a harvest.
The Review and Herald has reprints of appropriate articles available. Our conference and institutional stewardship secretaries are equipped to help us. Let us use them more, and also more intelligently.
God has a remarkable blessing awaiting us. Let us arise and claim it.
It is time for courage. It is time to say it to our people.