All Christians are active in the business world in some way whether as buyers or sellers. Many people have a different ethic for business matters than they do for other things. "I beat him on that trade" or some such expression is often heard by buyer or seller even among Christians. Perhaps all of us need to consider again the ethics we have in regard to our business transations.
When we speak in this article about Christians, we are speaking about those who have heard the gospel and obeyed it by believing in Christ and by repenting of sins and by confessing faith in Christ and being baptized into Christ for the remission of sins. What others do in business is not the subject. But what do Christians do? When we talk about "business" we are talking about mercantile pursuits, trade, and commerce activities in which we engage.
The Standard: -- Many books on business ethics have been written. These may be good or bad and may be worth reading, but the book of ethics to be used by Christians in their business is the New Testament. Christians must live by the oracles of God in all things -- including the way they trade cars, buy and sell property, and even in buying and selling groceries. We will have to give account for how we have treated others in business just as we will have to do in all relationships of life. Matt. 7: 12 is just as applicable here as in any thing: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for thsi is the law and the prophets."
The Bible was not specifically designed to be a book on business ethics. Still, the Bible makes a number of references to business. Some of these refer to actual transactions. Others use merchandising scenes to teach other lessons. Let us consider some of these:
Consider Matt. 13:44,45: In these two short verses we find two parables of Jesus having to do with buying and sellinga field and some pearls. The parable shows the great value of the kingdom of God -- the church of the Bible, of course. Still, the parables show that the Lord understood buying and selling and approved of such practices when properly done. It is right to be in business either as a buyer or a seller, even if many have been abusive in so doing.
Consider Matt. 22:1-5: This is another of the parables of Jesus in which He taught the Jews a basic lesson in regard to rejecting Him as the Christ. One of these in the parable came not to the prepared feast because he went to his merchandise. Coming to the feast was not important enough for him to miss his business.
There is a good lesson here for Christians in their business matters. No business should be counted so important that it hinders one from following Jesus. All Christians should evaluate their lives, whether buyers or sellers, as to whether or not they put the Lord first. Those who choose to pursue their merchandise and miss worship and other spiritual activities should consider this carefully.
Consider Jno. 2:13-16: This Scripture tells of Jesus going to the temple and finding merchants doing business in the temple. Jesus took a scourge of small cords and drove them out of the temple. He said tht the temple was not the place to do business. The place then made a difference. It still does! The gatherings of the Lord's people which are designed to fulfil the teachings of the New Testament are never the place to do business -- even selling Coca Cola.
Consider Jno. 4:8 & 6:5: In these references we find Jesus and His disciples in the role of buyers. Surely, they were good and honorable buyers. All are not. Some are liars and cheats just as are some sellers. The odd thing is that the same people may be truthful and honorable in other matters.
Consider 1 Cor. 7:30: In this passage we find a rather inconspicuous reference to business. Nevertheless, it has a conspicuous lesson in it. It shows how little the importance of business is in time of great calamity. In this reference this may be referring to the destruction of Jerusalem but, whatever it was, business would be put on the back burner then. There are things more important than doing business.
Consider 2 Pet. 2:3: In this passage, the Spirit is showing that false teachers are like crooked merchants. All business is not honorable. So many sellers live by the standard: "Let the buyer beware." Many buyers live by the same standard: "I get what I can."
The code of ethics in business should be quite simple.
What does the buyer expect of the seller? Is it not truthfulness, honesty, fairness,
reliability, and the like? On the other hand, what does the seller expect of
the buyer? Is it not the same? AND ABOVE ALL: "WHAT DOES THE LORD EXPECT
By Curtis E. Flatt in Gospel Guide, Vol. 29, No. 7.
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