Six planks of Christian Business Ethics- the building blocks to God’s ministry through business- Paul Collier
I have made a brief study of the Word as it relates to Business. As we are embarking upon what I view as a ministry, we should clarify our business DNA before we set out. I’ve identified what I believe to be 6 major principles we should doggedly follow constancy:
1. Are we selling what we say we are selling? Are our weights honest?
2. Sell no evil, profit not from evil
3. We must increase our vigil for our praise of the Lord in how he blesses us, lest we should fall away from God and believe we are the doers of His greatness.
4. Business is a ministry to the Lord, and we must set ourselves in righteousness before we attempt to do the Lord’s work
5. Do not exploit the poor by selling at high prices in times of scarcity
6. Remember that is not the coin, not the wealth that empowers us or enables us to do greatness in serving God. What enables us to do great works in His name is righteousness.
These planks are not listed in any particular order, though one could argue that the 6th plank is the most essential one, the one from which we must begin our journey, but as we prosper, the 3rd plank may be most essential to us maintaining the 6th (if we are not vigilant in our praise of God’s blessing, we will soon fall from righteousness).
Here are my biblical references that brought me to these planks of Christian business ethics.
In Proverbs, in no less than three places does the Lord call on us to sell only what we say we are selling, to have honest weights, lest we be an abomination unto the Lord. This seems a very serious plank for us to constantly keep our hearts upon, are we selling what we say we are selling? Are our weights honest?
Proverbs 11:1- A false balance is an abomination to the Lord but a just weight is his delight.
In Acts (Acts 19:23-28) we find the example of the temple-god makers of Ephesus, lamenting the loss of profits if people convert to Christianity and stop buying their idols.
Romans 12:16 Recompense to no man evil for evil, provide things honest to the sights of men.
Deuteronomy 7:25- The graven images of their gods..(the gods of the pagan nations)..shall be burned with fire, thou shalt not desire the sivler, or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein, for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God.
Abomination is mentioned again for this sin, profiting from evil. This message is repeated so often that it must be considered another central plank to Christian business ethics, sell no evil, profit not from evil. I would say it is as if the Lord is repeating this command, touch not the unclean thing…
The third plank I’ve found from this initial study should be that we must increase our vigil for our praise of the Lord in how he blesses us, lest we should fall away from God and believe we are the doers of His greatness.
11 And houses full of all good things which thou fillest not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees which thou plantedst not, when thou shalt have eaten and be full
12 then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the Loand of Egpyt, from the house of bondage
Deuteronomy 9:18 But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore unto thy father, as it is this day
Deuteronomy 20: 5-9
5 ….What man is thee that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it?.....
6 …What man is he that hath planted a vineyard and hath not eaten it?....
7 ….What man is it that hath betrothed a wide, and hath not taken her?....
This is a question asked of men preparing to go into battle. It details how we must set our own houses in order before we go into battle, but does it also mean that we should not possess a thing we cannot or do not use?
Business is a ministry to the Lord, and we must set ourselves in righteousness before we attempt to do the Lord’s work
Leviticus 25: 14-17
14 And if (you sell to your neighbor)- ye shall not oppress one another
16- According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the prices thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it…
17- Ye shall not therefore oppress one another, but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the Lord your God.
Does this mean in times of plenty we may increase our prices, but in times of lean we decrease? This seems to counter the laws of a capitalist free market, the laws of supply and demand.
We increase prices constantly when things are scarce. Do not exploit the poor by selling at high prices in times of scarcity
From Amos- something which seems to back up this supply-demand contradiction-
4 Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail,
5 Saying, when will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? And the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah (the actual measure) small and the shekel (the cost charged) great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?
6 That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes, yea and sell the refuse of the wheat?
For this sin, God told the people of Israel, through Amos (Amos 8:12) that he….will not pass by [The Israelites] again.
A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
This seems to be a powerful verse that goes to my own fallibility, a belief that we need prosperity to do the work of the Lord. Let us pray not for prosperity, but for righteousness before the Lord.
Echoing the idea that we must take care of our house before we do battle, I believe we should all do an inventory of our relationship with the Lord. If we bless our house, if we eat of our own righteous vineyards and take our Christ-centered bride, then we will have greater power in Christ than all the money of the world could provide for us. We need not money to serve God greatly
Remember that is not the coin, not the wealth that empowers us or enables us to do greatness in serving God. What enables us to do great works in His name is righteousness.