Last time, we took a look at what God expects from a manager or supervisor.
We also mentioned that there were two kinds (or responsibilities) of “employers” discussed in scripture.
The second type of employer that the bible focuses on is the business owner. In some small companies, this can be the same as the manager/supervisor.
However, in many companies the owner hires someone to manage a certain segment of workers.
A man of integrity
There are a number of verses in the bible that deal with business owners being honest and having integrity. Here are a few:
You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the Lord your God. ~ Deuteronomy 25:13-16
You shall have just balances, a just ephah and a just bath. ~ Ezekiel 45:10
Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, saying, “When will the new moon be over, so that we may sell grain, and the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market, to make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, and to cheat with dishonest scales, so as to buy the helpless for money and the needy for a pair of sandals, and that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?” ~ Amos 8:4-6
Is there yet a man in the wicked house, along with treasures of wickedness and a short measure that is cursed? Can I justify wicked scales and a bag of deceptive weights? For the rich men of the city are full of violence, her residents speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. ~ Micah 6:10-12
As you can see, God has a lot to say about dishonest business owners! This is something that has marred trade and business since the beginning. In these verses, we see men who carried differing weights and measures and imbalanced scales in order to cheat those they were doing business with. It is clear from what we have seen that God hates this and cannot honor someone who cheats someone else in business!
Have you ever known a business owner who promised one thing but delivered another? Ever embellished the numbers when applying for a small business loan? Even if you do something out of fear of losing business – like writing a positive product review on something you don’t like because you are getting paid – could violate these scriptural truths!
We are to conduct business with honor and integrity, being satisfied with whatever income that generates!
A man with the right motives
Look at the passages from Amos and Micah, they go past just carrying dishonest scales and look to the heart and motives of the owners. Someone who is dishonest in business is referred to as “you who trample the needy”!
Have you ever put pressure on someone to buy something or take out a loan when you knew it wasn’t in their best interest? Then you have demonstrated the same lack of integrity as those spoken of by Amos and Micah.
In Amos 8:4-6, these business owners were actually waiting for the time when they could open their business (work was not allowed on the New Moon or Sabbath) and begin cheating people. “Making the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger”, refers to using deceptive means to cause customers to pay more for less product – something that modern business owners do all the time!
They also sought to “sell the refuse of the wheat”! This refers to the chaff – they apparently would mix the chaff into the valuable wheat in order to deceive their customers! This reminds me of the horror stories of gas stations watering down the gas in order to cheat their customers!
We see that this deception and lack of integrity doesn’t just come from greed, but a total disregard of your fellow man! They were looking to “buy the helpless for money and the needy for a pair of sandals”! In other words, they were looking to use, abuse, and exercise control over others for their financial gain. Sounds a lot like a crooked banker to me!
In the passage in Micah 6, we read that “the rich men of the city are full of violence”! They are deceptive and lack integrity in gaining their wealth, and then they become violent and abusive in maintaining it!
God takes the idea of a dishonest business owner very seriously!
Our motives are just as important as our actions. My mind keeps going to mortgage brokers who knew that potential borrowers couldn’t afford a particular loan, but convinced them otherwise in order to gain a commission.
In business, we must focus on treating people with honor and respect, and not just seeing them as another potential dollar!
Putting people above money
Well, we’ve seen the picture of the type of business owner that God despises, now let’s look at what He expects from His children!
And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?” And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.” Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages. ~ Luke 3:10-14 (emphasis mine)
When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” ~ Luke 19:5-8
We are never to lie, cheat or steal, in order to get ahead in business or in life. And if we ever have, then we need to seek to make it right.
In business, we should be known for our honesty, integrity, and character; instead of our thirst for money, power, and success!
God expects us to live a life that pleases and honors Him at all times, and that doesn’t stop once we enter the workplace! Whether we are a worker, manager, or a business owner, we need to have integrity.
- What are some ways that you have seen business owners (or even salesmen) violate these principles?
- Have you ever done something in business where you lacked integrity, or had the wrong focus?
- If so, were you able to make it right?
- Have you ever lost business as a result of doing the right thing?
Khaleef writes about personal finance from a biblical perspective for KNS Financial’s “Faithful With A Few” blog. KNS Financial provides Personal Financial advice, Budgeting Assistance, Tax Preparation and Advice, Debt Management, and Economic Commentary, through personal consultations, writing, seminars, and workshops