BETA

Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women

Archive for November, 1999

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

BUSINESS ETHICS AND THE LOVE OF GOD

Good Morning!

If you are a nice guy, you probably ought to forget business. Go into something safer like the civil service, teaching, or social work. Because the reality of it is that pleasant guys get stepped on. And they finish last.

So, how can you as a businessman and follower of Christ love others and survive? If you are honest, Christian love often seems like “a blank check with no limits.”+  We know that such love is possible only when  we see God, rather than ourselves,  as our ultimate protector and provider.  (Psa. 27:1; 37:25)

Our thesis is that one’s business practices must mirror God’s character. Thus, the last two faxes discussed business ethics as it relates to the holiness and justice of God. This fax focuses on the love of God.

From Alexander Hill’s, perspective, the application of Christian love to business has three prominent characteristics+:

I Empathy: Seeking to understand and emotionally identify with others. From Hebrews, we observe Jesus’ empathy for us,

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:15, 16)

Question:In your business practices, are you seeking to empathize with those who are weak or hurting? Or are you ignoring, squashing,  or washing them out?

II  Mercy: Expressing kind or compassionate treatment toward an offender, when it is in our  power to  do otherwise.

Jesus’ illustrates mercy in the parable of the king who canceled the debt of a servant. (Matt.18:21-35)

Question – How are you treating those over whom you have power or authority? Are they getting what they deserve, or is there mercy in your actions?

III  Sacrifice of rights: Exhibiting  “the willingness to give away the very rights that justice bestows.”+

The account of Abraham deferring to Lot over prime land illustrates this truth. (Genesis 13)

Question  – When was the last time you relinquished to another what was rightfully yours?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, November 17, 1999

BUSINESS ETHICS AND THE JUSTICE OF GOD+

Good Morning!

“Either you play ball with me or I’ll shut you down! Go ahead, take it to the courts!  I own the judges!”  So said a heavy hitter in business to a friend of mine. And my friend’s response? Play ball.

In last week’s fax we discussed business as it related to the holiness of God. This fax centers on the justice of God in business.

God is a God of justice, and as such demands that our actions in business reflect His character, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Maintain justice and do what is right…’”  (Isa. 56:1a)

 Yet, it is patently clear that most individuals and societies ignore God’s call to justice,

“Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire–they all conspire together….If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still…Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” (Mic.7:3; Ecc. 5:8; Hab. 1:4)

We concur with Augustine that “a society without justice is no better than a band of thieves.”

Following are guidelines that may prove helpful in practicing justice in business:                           

#1  We determine to treat others with dignity.

#2  We allow others the right to exercise their free will.

#3  We fulfill contractual agreements.

#4  We make decisions that are impartial:

– Free of conflict of interest,

– Free of the suppression of evidence or information.

– Free of pre-existing biases, or unduly reaping gain from a settlement.

QUESTION – Are your non-believing business associates so impressed by your application of just principles, that they are compelled to look into this thing called Christianity?  Or are they repelled?

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, November 10, 1999

BUSINESS ETHICS AND THE HOLINESS OF GOD:

Good Morning!

Recently I asked ten separate individuals, “Do you know any businessmen whose business ethics are consistent with Biblical teaching?”  Their response? A blank stare. An awkward pause.  And then “no.” (Jeremiah 5:1) Their answer alerts me to the fact that we have a serious problem on our hands. And raises a fundamental question, “Is it possible to be in business and remain ethical?”

In his book Just Business, Dr. Alexander Hill+  states, “The foundation of Christian ethics in business is not rules but the changeless character of God…Behavior consistent with God’s character is ethical – that which is not is unethical.” 

 The three characteristics of God we are to mirror in our business practices are His holiness, justice and love. In this fax we will focus on holiness. The next two issues will center on justice and love.

 God’s holiness is “the sum of all moral excellency…absolute purity, unsullied even by the shadow of sin.”++  (See I Jn. 1:5;  Hab. 1:13a) And that is to be the  standard for our conduct in business: “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.” (I Pet. 1:15)

 So, how do we know when our behavior in business is holy? When it is ethical?

 #1  When we are zealous for God.  “…Holiness is fundamentally about priorities. So long as business is a means of honoring God rather than an end in itself, the concept of holiness is not violated. What holiness abhors is when business or any other human activity, becomes an idol.”+

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matt. 6:24)

#2  When we exhibit ethical purity by (1) communicating the truth,  and (2)  by serving rather than exploring others. (Matt. 5:37; Mk. 10:43-45)

#3 When our attitude and actions signify humility rather than pride“Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities…” (Rom. 12:3a, Phillips)

#4 When we are circumspect in our actions, checked by the realization of impending accountability “Holiness holds us accountable by rewarding moral purity and punishing impurity.”+ (Matt. 11:20-24; 25:46; Gal. 6:7,8)

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, November 3, 1999

GUIDELINES ON ADMONISHING FELLOW-BELIEVERS:

Good Morning!

Recently an acquaintance  sternly rebuked me on issues in which he was grossly mis-informed. My reaction was instant, angry, and retaliatory.  After all, he had violated my “rights.”  While still exercised over the incident, I managed to do a Bible study on the subject of  “admonition”Here is what I discovered:

1 – We are to admonish a fellow-believer as a brother, but  not treat him as an adversary:

If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him.Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” (2 Thes. 3:14, 15)

2 –  We are to exercise humility, circumspection and gentleness in restoring a brother:     

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” (Gal. 6:1)

3 –  We are to exercise wisdom in  admonishing others – in an atmosphere  of worship, and Biblical teaching:

“…Teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”  (Col. 3:16)

4 –   We are to exhibit great compassion in admonishing others:

“…For three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” (Act. 20:31b) (See also Matt. 9:13; Jude 1:22, 23)

After cooling down, doing the study, and reflecting on I Peter 2:20 – 23, I had to go back and ask his forgiveness — not because he was right, but because I was wrong in my reaction to his unjust behavior toward me.

“…If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example…When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (I Pet. 2:20b,23)

QUESTION: How are you responding to people who overstep the line with your “rights”? In anger? By retaliating? By sullen withdrawal? Or by forgiveness? 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!