October 7, 2012

The Christian in Business

Preacher:
Passage: Luke 12:15-21
Service Type:

The Christian and Business
Text: Luke 12:15-21

  1. A friend of mine saw an article where the author railed against a business
    1. The gist was that the corporation was “bad” because it was large and successful
      1. The author assumed that its success must have come from exploiting workers and giving unfair competition to other businesses.
      2. The author also assumed that the corporation reached its level of success because the owners were driven by greed and selfishness
    2. He began to think about what the Bible says about businesses. In particular, is wealth an indication that someone is up to no good?
  2. Back in 2005, I saw this quote with regard to the passage of a law:  “The House of Representatives joined the Senate in sending a clear message to the nation: the rights of large corporations that take advantage of seniors, low-wage workers and local communities are more important than the rights of average American citizens,” said Helen Gonzales of USAction.
    1. No matter what you might think about the particular law that was passed, it should be obvious that this person’s assumption is that large corporations get rich by taking advantage of seniors, workers and communities
    2. This also caused me to think about what the Bible says about business.
  1. Biblical rules for business conduct
    1. What is being sold is not to be misrepresented
      1. Honest weights and measure - Leviticus 19:35-36
        1. A product must be represented for what it is.
        2. You don’t claim that a customer is buying a different amount than what is stated - Proverbs 16:11
        3. The use of false weights is a indication of a character flaw - Hosea 12:7
      2. Given a choice, being honest is more valuable than being rich - Proverbs 19:1
        1. Wealth gained by deceit is fleeting - Proverbs 21:6
        2. Lies don’t last - Proverbs 12:19
    2. What is being bought is not to be misrepresented - Proverbs 20:14
    3. Christians are not to defraud others - I Thessalonians 4:6
      1. Don’t misrepresent your competition
      2. This is easy to do, especially when the rivalry is “intense”
      3. Proverbs 26:24-26 - Don’t hate others, it will be your ruin
    4. Don’t use false flattery - Proverbs 26:28
      1. It is a sign of entrapment - Proverbs 29:5
      2. It is not honest with their feelings - Psalm 12:2
      3. Now, politeness and kind words are appropriate, but they must be sincere as well
    5. Honesty in all our conduct - II Corinthians 8:21
  2. Biblical rules for the conduct of an employer
    1. Workers have the right to be paid for their effort - Deuteronomy 25:4
      1. A laborer is worthy of his hire - Matthew 10:10
      2. Using unpaid labor is condemned - Jeremiah 22:13
      3. Workers have a right to a fair wage - Malachi 3:5
        1. Some will take advantage those who have limited choice.
        2. The poor who cannot afford to be without work, the widows or orphans that have no one to plead their cause - Proverbs 22:22
        3. Example: Hiring illegal aliens and then paying them far less than what would be paid to someone hired off the street because they are not in a position to complain or go elsewhere for work.
        4. This does not mean there cannot be low paying jobs. The worker must decide that is what he is willing to work for - Matthew 20:1-2
    2. Workers have a right to their full pay, paid in a timely manner - James 5:4
      1. Again, don’t take advantage. Pay on time - Deuteronomy 24:14-15
      2. Withholding wages is equivalent to robbery - Leviticus 19:13
    3. Workers need periods of rest
      1. God rested from His labors and used that as a precedence for Israel’s law to rest on the Sabbath day.
      2. Jesus made sure his disciples had a chance to rest - Mark 6:31-32
    4. Work for your employees - Ephesians 6:9
      1. Do not use threats as a motivation for productivity
      2. Treat them as you want to be treated: fairly and impartially
      3. Give them justice and fairness - Colossians 4:1
  3. Rules for the employee
    1. If possible, get paid for doing something you enjoy - Ecclesiastes 2:22-24
      1. Few things are more miserable than being a slave to a job you hate
      2. But it must be balanced - II Thessalonians 3:10
        1. I’ve seen people who have not worked for months because they are looking for the perfect job
        2. For some I suspect the perfect job is one that requires no effort, which is why they never find it.
      3. Take any job that pays and in your spare time look for something better
      4. If you have a poor job, keep working while you search for something better. Don’t quit until you start your new job.
      5. A good job is a gift from God - Ecclesiastes 3:13
    2. Respect your employer - I Timothy 6:1-2
      1. Don’t argue with the boss - Titus 2:9
      2. This rule applies even to the unreasonable boss - I Peter 2:18-20
    3. Be honest in your dealings
      1. Don’t steal from your employer - Titus 2:9-10
      2. This includes time.
        1. Don’t work hard only when the boss is looking
        2. Give honest effort at all times, deserving your pay
    4. Give sincere obedience - Ephesians 6:5-8
      1. Effort that comes from the heart - Colossians 3:22
      2. Work for Jesus who is always watching
      3. Realize that what we do and how we behave is a reflection on our Lord
    5. Work heartily - Colossians 3:23-24
      1. Give full effort while you can - Ecclesiastes 9:10
      2. Proverbs 18:9 - A slack worker is a destroyer
    6. Keep your agreements
      1. When a Christian gives his/her word, it should be honored.
        1. This is true regardless of whether this is done orally or in writing
        2. It is also true if “circumstances change”
      2. Often when entering into a new employment situation, new employees are asked to sign a number of documents
        1. Confidentiality agreements
        2. Non-compete agreements
        3. Intellectual Property agreements
      3. These should be honored to the extent possible
        1. There times in which they cannot be honored
          1. If your employer defrauds another and by remaining silent you become a party to the fraud
          2. If you are on the witness stand in a trial and you are asked a question
        2. Many, however, treat these agreements much like they do religion: something in which loopholes should or might be found.
        3. Such an attitude is one which is unbecoming of the Christian
  4. Is success and wealth wrong?
    1. The natural result of labor is profit - Proverbs 14:23; 13:11
    2. Hence, a successful business does not necessarily imply that the wealth was gained dishonestly or through exploitation, though such does happen
      1. The Bible speaks of righteous, wealthy men: Abraham, Job
      2. Command to wealthy Christians - I Timothy 6:17-19
      3. Always the warning is not to trust in wealth or expect riches to remain - Proverbs 23:5
      4. Seeking wealth contains the danger of distraction - I Timothy 6:9-10
      5. But being wealthy does not imply that you have ill-gotten gains or that you are greedy
    3. One mistake often made is to consider that the one who has gained wealth is unique.
      1. But in a normal, fair system, anyone can apply the same or similar techniques to gain the same result
      2. Sometimes things happen by chance - Ecclesiastes 9:11
    4. The Christian’s focus should not be on this world, on wealth, on fame, or the like. This world is passing - I Corinthians 7:29-31
      1. Paul is not saying you cannot laugh or cry; marry or purchase; but that it should not be our focus.
      2. Worldly desires will not survive - I John 2:15-17
      3. Wealth might come, or it might not, or it might come and then leave – it doesn’t matter.
    5. Parable of the Rich Man - Luke 12:15-21
    6. Where is your treasure?

Based on outline by Jeffrey Hamilton

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