Honoring God through BusinessBlog / Produced by The High Calling
Ask Americans to describe themselves, and they will likely tell you what they do or where they work: “I’m an attorney,” or “I’m with AT&T,” or “I’m in commercial real estate.” As part of our series Give Glory to God, Bill Peel and David Gowdey explore how we honor God in business.
God made us to work. And it’s only natural to identify ourselves with how we spend most of our waking hours. While mankind’s rebellion against God’s rule makes work frustrating, work is good. However, something is wrong. When we base our identity solely on our work and it becomes the ruling passion of our lives, we make an idol out of work, and usurp God’s rightful place at the center of life. When we worship our work, not only does this dishonor God and scar our character, it serves to advance greed and corruption in the world of commerce, and it compromises the inherent goodness of business to create human flourishing.
As a result, a growing number of people doubt the beneficial nature of business to society. This question mark hanging over business is not new, however. According to Church Father, St. Jerome, “A merchant can seldom if ever please God.” St. Augustine wrote, “Business is in itself evil.” Today, many agree.
Sadly, many pulpits across America echo this negative sentiment rather than a scriptural perspective. Rarely is business honored as a legitimate way to serve God. At best, it is ignored or portrayed as second-class work in God’s kingdom. At worst, it is portrayed as a necessary evil to be endured. Such perspectives detach the transforming power of the gospel from daily life, making it difficult to connect the faith we confess on Sunday with commerce on Monday.
All of this creates a significant dilemma for Christians who have a heart for God and a mind for business. In Business for the Glory of God, Wayne Grudem points out, “When people ask how their lives can ‘glorify God,’ they aren’t usually told, ‘Go into business.’” Yet business is where God calls many, if not most, Christians to serve him. Though they can repeat that familiar line from the Westminster Confession, “ … the chief end of man is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever,” few have been encouraged to consider what the Bible says about doing business to God’s glory.
When we fail to put God at the center of our work, the work itself will likely fill the vacuum, undermining God’s authority in our lives in vital ways. This weakens our spiritual immune system, and makes us susceptible to selfishness, greed, and dishonesty. It blinds us to our spiritual resources at work and leaves us oblivious to the fact that one day God will ask us to give an account for what we did with the business he entrusted to our care.
The prospect of living a robust life of faith in the world of commerce begs for answers from thoughtful Christians.
- What is the purpose of business?
- What does a robust Monday-morning faith look like?
- What are the ethical dimensions for a Christian in business?
- What are the financial implications of putting God first in business?
- What kind of corporate culture would emerge from such a perspective?
- If God is the center of our business, how should this affect the way employees and colleagues are treated?
- What standards should be set for products and services offered?
- How should faith conversations, if at all, be conducted in the workplace?
- How can a business contribute to human flourishing in its community?
- What is the fundamental good of business?
Seeking answers to these questions is important for every Christian whom God calls into business, as well as for the pastors charged with equipping them to serve and glorify God there.
Business is God’s rightful domain. He claims the supreme place of authority over every aspect of life, including business. Former Dutch Prime Minister Abraham Kuyper put it this way,
There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine!”
Failure to grasp the importance of business to God, as one of the key means to carry out his purpose and plans for the world, undermines the influence of Christianity on the marketplace and society as a whole.