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Justice and Mercy Through Business

by Jason on April 13, 2011

I recently read Generous Justice, by Pastor Timothy Keller.  It’s a book that offers an understanding of the Bible’s call for justice and mercy in today’s society.

In Chapter 6, How Should We Do Justice, Keller tells a story of a business man he knows who took seriously the call to live out Micah 6:8: “…What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Here’s Keller’s description:

A Christian man I know owns a chain of car dealerships.  As is standard practice in the industry, his salesmen were authorized to negotiate the price of the car with their customers.  At one point, however, the CEO did some research and uncovered the fact that, in general, men were more persistent negotiators than women, and Anglos pressed their interests much more determinedly than African-Americans.

In other words, black women, who were often poorer, were paying more for cars than more prosperous customers.  The owner realized that this time-honored business practice took advantage of a class of people that needed help and protection.

The policy was obviously not illegal, and few people would have considered it immoral.  But it ended up being exploitative.  So the company changed the policy to one of no negotiation – the listed price was the price.

This would not have occurred to most people, but this Christian businessman was “considering” the poor, and seeking to integrate the doing of justice into all aspects of his private and public life.

I once asked him, was this “good business” on his part?  He replied that there may be some future benefits for the company but that they would be minor, unquantifiable, and they didn’t matter.  They made the changes because the practice was taking economic advantage of people with fewer resources.  “Do not take advantage of a widow, ” said Exodus 22:22.

This man demonstrated a strong conviction to Psalm 41:1, which says, ” Blessed is the man who considers the poor.”

Do you agree with what the business man did?

What are some other ways business owners can demonstrate justice and mercy?

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