Business and the Christian
Biblical success in business
“There’s Mr. Smith. I wonder how he made all his money?”
“God alone knows!”
“Ah, that’s why he always looks so worried.”
Business is all about making money, making a profit and increasing one’s wealth. If ever there was anything that epitomized an anti-Christian stance it must be business. The joke at the start of this article is typical of what people think of successful business-people – they must have done something wrong to achieve their success. They must have committed some sin or other to get where they are. But it is written:
Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. (Isa 48:17)
The Lord will not teach us to sin. The Bible is full of people, holy people of God who earned their keep doing business and making a profit. Abraham was a successful farmer, soldier and businessman. So too was Jacob and Job. King Solomon, before his fall from grace, sent ships to trade and barter in foreign lands even importing chariots from Egypt, Israel’s traditional enemy. Business should not be left in the hands of the ungodly few, but all can, and should, participate. If riches are an aversion to you, remember that Abraham, Job, David and many others in the bible were extremely rich people and God had no trouble identifying them as His people.
In the New Testament we read of Paul who was a maker and seller of tents. Then there is also Lydia:
And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.(Acts 16:14)
Tax collectors were viewed as dishonest ‘cheats’ by the public at large, but this had more to do with the way in which they conducted their business than the business itself. Jesus who spoke to and visited with tax collectors had no condemnation for their business, instead, He commended Zacchaeus for his decision to change his approach to business and deal honestly. In fact if we read Proverbs 31, one of the things that make a wife virtuous is her ability to do business.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. (Pro.31:16)
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. (Pro.31:24)
When it comes to business and profit, it is not ‘what’ but the ‘how’ that is problematic. There are, however, biblical guidelines and principles that can be followed on how to do business for profit without compromising morals or beliefs. Scripture even tells us what businesses to avoid and warns us of the consequences if we transgress.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal.5:19-21)
Anything that encourages any of the above must be avoided at all costs. Read the last part of the next series of verses:
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! (Mat.18:5-7)
In Habakkuk we read a list of pitfalls, things that could get in the way of a godly business, things that need to be avoided, even if it means passing up what looks to be a good deal.
Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people.(Hab.2:5)
No greater trap exists for a businessman than pride. Pride led to the downfall of the prince of angels. It led to the downfall of Saul and Nebuchadnezzer. It is a vulnerable open door for other offences:
Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!(Hab.2:6)
Alongside pride, we can place unpaid debts as another reason for the downfall of businesspeople. ‘Clay’ refers to pledges or promises to pay debts and i.o.u.’s which in those days were written on clay, and ‘thick clay’ refers to an abundance of debts that pile up and are not paid.
Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil! (Hab.2:9)
Next to unpaid debts comes greed, a drive to gain as much as possible so that one may, through wealth, gain a position of power. Wealth becomes the source of security, as Proverbs 18:11 says: Wealth becomes his city behind the walls of which he will feel safe. As Christian businesspeople, our security is in the Lord.
The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. (Prov.18:10)
Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity! (Hab.2:12)
After greed comes disregard for others. Building a business on the blood of others will have consequences. Your methods will determine your outcome. Jesus warned:
Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. (Matt.26:52)
There is always somebody stronger or more ruthless than you. Your approach to business will determine their approach to you.
Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! (Hab.2:15)
To mislead and to cheat speaks of thievery not business. To force people into situations, whether by alcohol or coercion or blackmail, speaks of one who is unable to do what is right, unable to be a businessperson. ‘Help one another’ we are told by Paul the apostle, and He will help you.
Opportunities abound, we must just be on the lookout for them. Caleb in the book of Joshua chose what looked like a barren mountain over the lush valleys. Later we read how, because of his mountain he had water and grazing for different times of the year when others did not.
Do your business within God’s parameters, and He will send people to you, those needing your help and those who can help you. Keep your focus on God. He is the one who ‘teaches us to profit’, who blesses and rewards.
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Gal. 6:7)
The rewards you reap will depend on you.
All scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Holy Bible
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© 2019 Warren du Plessis