sententiarum collectio

Month: February 2022

Business with Brothers

You should go into every business relationship with a brother looking to give something additional, rather than trying to get something additional. Don’t expect discounts because you are a brother. Try, when possible, to give something additional because he’s a brother. And when someone in the church is doing business with you, you are not responsible for whether or not they are observing this. And if you decide to stop using the services of a brother it may be because of ordinary reasons (price, distance, etc.), slipshod or substandard workmanship, or unethical work (biblically defined). For the first, no explanation is necessary. Just go your way. If the person asks, tell them. For the second, you must tell your brother about your concerns. If you have done so, then it is legitimate to express those concerns to others, if they seek or need your recommendation on this brother’s work. If he installed your cabinets upside down, it is not “gossip” to say so when someone asks for a recommendation. For the third scenario, you must follow the pattern given in Matthew 18.

Being a member of the same church does not entitle you to free consulting services. When you ask questions of a brother in business, it should only be in order to determine whether or not you need his services, and not an attempt to get his services without paying for them. Avoid making anyone “set up shop” at church or fellowship events.

At a fellowship event, you can ask questions about “when would be a good time to call about thus and such?” But even here, be sensitive. When you call, after you have asked a few questions about whether or not the services are necessary, you are on the threshold of imposing on a brother. This means that after the first few minutes, you should expect the meter to be running (and should say so). If the person you are talking to does not charge you that is his business. But you should expect a bill as soon as you get to the point of using his expertise.

Remember some professions are more vulnerable to this kind of imposition than others. Low risk: MRI technicians, librarians. Medium risk: teachers, guys with tools and pick-up trucks. High risk: medical doctors, auto mechanics, veterinarians, realtors.

Beware of the egalitarianism which says that it is all right to do this to what you consider “high income” professions. Don’t assume that someone “doesn’t mind” because you have been doing this to him for years. He just has better manners than you do.

Wives, do not do an end run around your husband. If he has said that you are not going to spend any money on whatever it is, you should not try to get the service without spending any money. This just turns one sin into two.

In all things, apply the Golden Rule. Ask yourself what would be a temptation to you in your profession, and then don’t do that to other people in theirs.

— Douglas Wilson, Gashmu Saith It

Christian Economy

When you are engaged, as we are, in seeking to build true Christian community, the first thing that will happen is that an economy will start to take shape. And this means, in its turn, that disputes will arise. Most of the gnarly disputes will be about business or finances. This is borne out in my experience, and in line with a survey we sent out to the members of our church community. We asked, for example, how many of them had had business deals with fellow church members go south on them, and more than a few had.

Test your heart first. When you are thinking about a business opportunity with another member of the church, ask yourself this kind of question first. If your first thought is that because so-and-so is a fellow church member he might cut you a deal, then I would plead with you as your pastor to go do business with the pagans. You’ll fit in better there. That’s how you can best maintain the peace and purity of the church. How many Christians think something like this? “Ooo-he has that little fish in his shop window. I think I’ll add 10% to whatever he invoices. After all, he’s a brother.”

And when the attitude is right, there is another thing I would ask you to include. Too many Christians think that regeneration, or good intentions, or having a nice personality will somehow make your memory perfect, or will prevent you from getting hit by a truck. Suppose you get hit by that truck, and your heirs and your partners’ heirs are all trying to figure out what that handshake fifteen years ago meant. So write it down. This does not make you suspicious and unloving. God loves us perfectly, and He still wrote it down.

Not only that, but neither does regeneration magically bestow craft competence. Your salvation is by grace through faith, lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2:8-9). But kids, your grade point average does not work that way. Adults, neither does your business work that way. Your vocation in the world is found in the next verse. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). And good works here most manifestly includes good work.

Good work is work. Even though the grace of God underlies all things, including all our work, our work remains work. Your ability to carry a load of bricks over to the build site is ultimately the grace of God, but the actual carrying is work. The bricks are not moved before you get there “by grace through faith.”

— Douglas Wilson, Gashmu Saith It

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