COMMITMENT

MARKETPLACE CHRISTIANS: WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE?

Conventional wisdom is that we go to church on weekends and the rest of the time is ours to make a living; be entertained; take care of home duties and have fun. Does that

reflect the committed Christian—someone who believes that Jesus’ promised

return is imminent? Does it reflect the self-employed, the professional, the

manufacturer, the shop owner—those who make their living in the marketplace,

but believe that His call, “Go ye,” includes them? Let us explore what

Christians in the marketplace look like. Are they any different from their

marketplace competitors?



A Christian knows that his work product, whatever its quality, will be a reflection of himself.

Should excellence

be the standard of the Christian entrepreneur or professional? Scripture

provides a standard of excellence in the life of Daniel, where even his enemies

could find no fault in him or how he did his work (Daniel 6:2-5). Whatever we

do, we are called to do all to the glory of God. Just getting by, getting on to

the next project, deal, client or patient, will not work for the committed

Christian. A Christian knows that his work product, whatever its quality, will

be a reflection of himself. As

such, others will evaluate both his faith and Jesus. To just “get by,” to meet merely the marketplace competitive

standard is a poor reflection of faith. Following Daniel’s

example, the marketplace Christian will be the “best mechanic in town;” a store

owner known for fair dealing and quality products or services at a reasonable

price; or the most caring physician, dentist, accountant , manufacturer or

lawyer in the community. This person will always listen, always care beyond the

immediate task. They will be

people who merit a referral or whose products are reliable, durable and backed

by the resources of the company. To use a clichéd phrase, the actions of such a

person will reflect the answer to the question, “What would Jesus do?”



The Christian in

the marketplace is respectful of his customers’, clients’ or patients’ time. He

keeps regular hours, does not overbook and has adequate staff available to care

for the people or projects that make it possible for him to pay his bills.

Regularly causing people to wait far beyond their appointment time reflects

poor planning and a selfish misuse of the customer’s time. We know that

emergencies can preempt good planning, but the Christian professional knows

that and factors it in when scheduling appointments. His staff is trained to

courteously explain the reason for the delay and assure clients that they will

be helped as soon as possible. The Christian entrepreneur also has

knowledgeable staff members who are courteous and anxious to assist customers

with their concerns.



A non-Christian friend noticed and asked, “I thought you Adventists didn’t drink beer?” My friend replied, “I’m just fudging a little.” His “fudging” took its toll on the reputation of the church and on those whose lives of consistency were tarnished.

A Christian in

the marketplace is consistent in his personal habits and lifestyle

choices—they’re not for show, but intentional because he lives a principled

life. Early in my law career, I was acquainted with a well-established

colleague. We attended the same church, our children went to the same Christian

school, often we appeared in the same courts and were members of the same

professional Lawyers’ Bar Associations. We shared a common circle of lawyer

friends and judges. In social gatherings, it was common practice to find

alcohol available. At one Bar Association picnic, my lawyer friend joined in

with the beer drinking. A non-Christian friend noticed and asked, “I thought

you Adventists didn’t drink beer?” My friend replied, “I’m just fudging a

little.” His “fudging” took its toll on the reputation of the church and on

those whose lives of consistency were tarnished. A Christian is aware that

non-Christians are quick to notice inconsistency in the moral lives of

believers. As a result, they think less, not just of the offender, but of all

those who espouse the same beliefs.



Does the

marketplace Christian spend his money differently from his worldly colleagues?

Does it matter? Should it? Will there be any difference between how a Christian

and non-Christian of the same economic status uses their money? Whose business

or practice is it? After meeting tax obligations, it’s quite easy for the

secularist to reason, I earned it, or at least I have it, and what I want to do

with “my” money is no one else's’ business. Their use of money can reveal a

person’s priorities for power, dissipation, display, greed, whim, indulgence or

entertainment, limited only by imagination and resources. Our choices reveal our character. Even in the

secular world, we see commendable examples of wealthy persons who have spent

fortunes on libraries, public parks, medical care and research,

starvation/disaster relief, education, and other worthwhile causes that have

relieved much suffering.



Unfortunately, this seems to be the exception, not the

rule.



The key difference that separates the secularist from the Christian is the concept of stewardship. The secularist sees his prosperity as resulting from his own skill, intelligence, fortuity, or just plain luck.

The Christian who

accepts Scripture as truth in his worldview will march to an entirely different

drummer. He knows the Scriptures and Jesus himself had much to say about the

poor, the rich, money, and how money should be used. A committed Christian will

have a caring concern about others. Jesus reminded that we should love our

neighbor as ourselves (Mat. 22:38, 39, quoting Lev.19:18). But Christian

stewardship goes back almost to the beginning of time when Cain, confronted

about his brother Abel, responded to God Himself, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Scripture reveals stories of the wealthy and powerful, many beloved of the

Lord: Abraham and Lot, Joseph, Moses, Boaz, David and Solomon, Daniel,

Nebuchadnezzar, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea. In fact, God Himself directly

prospered some of these (Gen. 39:3, 23). He wants all of His people to prosper

in all things, both physical and spiritual (3 Jn 2, Ps. 1:1-3). The key difference that separates the secularist from the

Christian is the concept of stewardship. The secularist sees

his prosperity as resulting from his own skill, intelligence, fortuity, or just

plain luck. Whatever its source, what he has is his own, to do with as he

pleases. By contrast, the Christian sees God’s hand in all that happens, and

asks the question, ”What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward

me” (Ps. 116:12). Even if gifted with great skill or talent, he recognizes that

these, too, come from the Lord. He is then a steward of those resources and

will ask the question: “What does God, as Owner, want me to do with what He’s

given me to manage?” God’s answer is not obscure.



In one of Jesus’

early sermons, he dealt with the dilemma of how man should weigh the priorities

between spirituality and “things.” In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clearly

admonishes, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these

things shall be added to you” (Mat. 6:33). The Christian knows that the only

safe treasure “bank” is in heaven, not on earth. No one can move his

investments to another world. We cannot carry anything out of this world when life is over. We

will go like we came—with nothing (1Tim. 6:7).



Christians who see

themselves primarily as God’s stewards will be content with what God has

supplied (1 Tim. 6:8) and happily support His Church. They will look for

opportunities to help those in need and will be quick to defend against

injustices (Ps. 82:13; Isa. 58:6-14). They will shun ostentatious display

knowing that our Lord Jesus was rich, but became poor for our sakes so that

through His poverty, we might become rich in his grace, (2 Cor. 8:9).

Perhaps the real question is not, “What do

Christians in the marketplace look like?” but rather, “Who do they look like?”

Harold

J. Lance
Harold J Lance has been an

Adventist church member since 1944

and is presently member at Linnwood

congregation in Spokane, Washington, USA. He attended Lynwood Academy

and Pacific Union College in California, USA. He also holds BS and JD degrees

from Willamette University College of Law in Salem Oregon. He was a Special

Agent in the US Army Counter

Intelligence Corp from 1955-1957 and has been a member of the Oregon State Bar

and Californian Bar Association from 1955 to the present; a Fellow of the American

College of Trial Lawyers from 1987 to the present: Trial Lawyer in the Firm of

Vinnedge Lance and Glenn Ontario CA from 1957 to 1989; a member of

Adventist-Laymen's Services International (ASI) from 1975 to the present. He

has been President of ASI for 6 years and is currently serving as President of

ASI Missions Inc. He served as member of the GC and NAD Conference Committees;

the Loma Linda University Medical Center, and the Pacific Press Publishing

Association Board of Directors; He was the President of Outpost Centers Inc.

(OCI) from 1989-1998
a lay ministry member organization of ASI.

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