Best of Daily Reflections: How Reverence for God Leads to Honest Business Practices
Show your fear of God by not taking advantage of each other. I am the LORD your God.
In recent years, we have witnessed many situations in which powerful and wealthy corporations and business leaders have taken advantage of people. Precious investments and pensions have disappeared because financial moguls have failed to be honest and fair. The result has been devastating for the world's economy, not to mention millions of people who have lost jobs or the hope of a secure financial future.
Leviticus 25 provides legislation that seeks to ensure economic justice for the Israelites as they settle in the Promised Land. Though many of the specific laws don't speak directly to our situation today, the underlying principles of Leviticus 25 surely should inform our business practices, whether we are running a giant corporation or selling our home. One of these principles is expressed simply in verse 17: "Show your fear of God by not taking advantage of each other. I am the LORD your God." The verb translated here as "taking advantage" could also mean "wronging" or "cheating." In context, it refers to the selling of property by establishing a fair price.
What I find fascinating about this verse is not the basic command: Do not take advantage of each other. Rather, I am impressed by the rationale for this imperative. We're to treat each other fairly in our financial dealings because we fear God. Notice the intimate and necessary connection here between our reverence for God and our business practices. If we truly revere the Lord, then we will seek to honor him in our financial dealings. We will treat people justly as a way of worshiping God. We will be forthright in our business dealings because we belong to the Lord and seek to serve him in every arena of life.
I recently heard a prominent corporate leader speak of how his reverence for God changed his way of doing business. This man is an expert negotiator who has represented major corporations in multibillion dollar deals. Some time ago, he became convinced that he needed to be more forthright in his negotiations. So he stunned his colleagues and his former adversaries by pointing out clauses in contracts that he believed were not best for the other side. He did what was unheard of in his line of work, seeking truly fair terms for all parties. He chose this risky course because he feared the Lord and therefore did not want to take advantage of others. I'm not sure whether or not he had Leviticus 25:17 in mind, but his behavior provides a marvelous illustration of the truth contained in this verse.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever been involved in a financial situation where someone took advantage of you? How did it feel? Have you ever used your superior knowledge or power to take advantage of someone else? How might Leviticus 25:17 impact the way you live your life in your business? In your home? In your community?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, how easy it is for me to revere you without making the connection between fearing you and how I live my life each day, even in my financial dealings. Like so many in this culture, I find it easy to distinguish between my faith and my "real life." Forgive me for failing to see that worshiping you is a matter of how I live each moment of each day, including how I do business.
Help me, gracious God, to learn to serve you in every facet of my life. May I be just and honest in all of my dealings with people, including my financial dealings.
I pray today for Christians who are business leaders, that you would help them to make the connection between their relationship with you and their work. Give them wisdom. Give them the courage to be honest. Bless them as they seek to honor you in all they do. Amen.