After examining the Christian call to work hard, weighing the value of hard work and the dangers of laziness, and looking at our need for rest, I thought it best to look at the values and ethics that should guide us in our work. What are the principles we should follow to best glorify God in our work? In this and the next four parts of this Bible study, we’ll look at God’s business values and ethics.
Be Honest and Fair
God hates dishonesty or injustice, and if we treat people dishonestly or unjustly we are not reflecting His glory. Though we are no longer under the Law, the Old Testament laws do help us understand some specifics of how we can best serve God.
13 You shall not have in your bag diverse weights, a great and a small. 14 You shall not have in your house diverse measures, a great and a small. 15 You shall have a perfect and just weight. You shall have a perfect and just measure, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you. 16 For all who do such things, all who do unrighteously, are an abomination to Yahweh your God.
Deuteronomy 25:13-16 (WEB)
In our business with people – all people, not just other Christians – we are to give them exactly what we say we will and what they’re paying for. While we no longer have weights we carry around to figure out how much we’re selling someone or how much money we’re giving or receiving, the principle still applies. We are not to cheat people in any way. In the same way, we are not to lie to avoid paying what is due or to avoid giving help when someone needs it.
27 Don’t withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it. 28 Don’t say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again; tomorrow I will give it to you,” when you have it by you.
Proverbs 3:27-28 (WEB)
God doesn’t want us to use dishonesty in any way in our business or our lives. He loves to see us treat each other honestly and fairly, for He is truth and cannot stand lies.
Lying lips are an abomination to Yahweh, but those who do the truth are his delight.
Proverbs 12:22 (WEB)
One area we might blur the truth a little is when we’re trying to haggle or negotiate a lower price. God has no problem with us trying to pay a little less, but He doesn’t want us using lies to do it.
“It’s no good, it’s no good,” says the buyer; but when he is gone his way, then he boasts.
Proverbs 20:14 (WEB)
We shouldn’t lie about the item we’re buying to get a lower price. I’ll be the first to encourage you to get the lowest price you can, but don’t lie to a seller to do it and treat him unfairly. As we’ll see in a bit, we should treat people exactly the way we’d want them to treat us. So when you’re buying, treat the person the way you’d want people buying from you to treat you. And if you’re the seller, treat the buyer like you’d want sellers to treat you.
No one likes to be ripped off. Part of being fair and honest is to only charge a fair price and to take no more than is actually due. John the Baptist taught this principle to the tax collectors of his day, who were notorious for taking more than they were actually supposed to:
12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what must we do?” 13 He said to them, “Collect no more than that which is appointed to you.”
Luke 3:12-13 (WEB)
We shouldn’t charge people more than what’s fair. Part of our Christian witness would be speaking up when this happens as well. If your employer is doing these things, it’s not right for you to do them just because you’re told to or because everyone else is. We are judged not by men, but by God. If we are to work as if we’re working for the Lord, that also means that the actions we take at work should glorify God.
We must also remember that God wants us to use these business values with all people – not just those we like or agree with.
For there is no partiality with God.
Romans 2:11 (WEB)
God has shown no partiality in the gift of His Son. The blood of Jesus is available to all who call upon Him for salvation and redemption from sin. If God has so generously shared Jesus with all people, it is clear that He does not want us to treat anyone with partiality. We should treat all people equally with the same honesty and justice God requires of us.
How to Always Be Fair and Just
There are many more aspects to being honest, fair, and just than the things that are covered in Scripture. And we might tend to forget them if we try to memorize a bunch of “rules”. But Jesus came preaching a message that fulfilled the Law, and the Holy Spirit teaches us how to glorify God more and more each day. So how can we remember to be fair to everyone and always know that we are being just? Jesus told us how to fulfill the whole law, and in Galatians Paul repeats the part that dictates how we treat other people:
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:14 (WEB)
Jesus even explained how we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. We know this as the “Golden Rule”, and it is the guiding force for all of God’s business values and ethics.
Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
Matthew 7:12 (WEB)
This scripture is also found in Luke 6:31.
By treating people the way we want to be treated, we’re loving them just as we love ourselves. If we follow this principle and let the Spirit guide us, we’ll never be unfair or unjust. We’ll always be honest because we want people to deal with us truthfully. We’ll never rip people off because we’d never want to be ripped off ourselves. And we won’t discriminate in our honesty and fairness because we wouldn’t want to be subject to discrimination either – especially when it comes to truth and justice.
And the Spirit compels us not only to treat people as we treat ourselves, but to treat them even better than we’d deal with ourselves. Paul explains this to the church at Philippi in this way:
3 …doing nothing through rivalry or through conceit, but in humility, each counting others better than himself; 4 each of you not just looking to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.
Philippians 2:3-4 (WEB)
Our culture tells us we only need to look out for ourselves – the “every man for himself” idea. But Christians are called to look out for others just as we look out for ourselves. We are to go so far as to count others as better than ourselves. I can assure you that if we truly follow Jesus’ teaching and Paul’s explanation here, we will glorify God in all that we do. All of God’s values and ethics are tied up in the two greatest commandments as Jesus explained. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Everything hangs on these two commandments. We cannot keep them ourselves by our own power, but the Holy Spirit can do it through us and make us a powerful witness to the whole world.