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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for May, 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

GREED…RATIONALIZATION…COMPROMISE

Good Morning!

Recently, in the course of counseling a young businessman, I was asked if I thought “insider trading+ was wrong.

Is it against company policy I inquired? “Yes,” he replied. “Is it against the laws of the land,” I queried? “Yes,” came his response.

After an awkward pause I asked, “Joe, why then, are you asking me this question?

Silence.

In frustration I then directed him to look at Job 27:3 – 6:

“As long as I have life within me… my tongue will utter no deceit…Till I die, I will not deny my integrity…My conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.?”

As we read this passage from his Bible, I noticed that he already had it circled and underlined. “Had he not previously pondered and perhaps even wrestled with the truth of this passage,” I wondered? “ How is it that he could consider these profound teachings and still ask whether ‘insider trading’ is wrong”?

The answer lies in the fact that many believers who are committed to, and immersed in the cut throat climate of the business environmentspiritual and the secular as did the Old Testament Jews: have developed an amazing ability to rationalize and side-step the Bible’s high standard of integrity. They are able to do this simply by living in the two worlds of the

While these people were worshipping the Lord, they were serving their idols.”

(II King. 17:41)

And by so doing, they make Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde look like a novice.

At the heart of the problem lies our stubborn refusal to allow Christ to be the Lord of our work because we fear that if we abandon ourselves to a Biblical ethic, either:

(1) Our business will collapse under the competition, or

(2) God won’t provide for us at the standard to which we have become accustomed.

The first fear centers on a carnal lack of faith, and the second on greed. Both are sin.

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

R. Dwight Hill

*Original Facts date January 29th, 1997

+ Using sensitive information acquired by virtue of your position for personal gain.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

HOW ARE WE TO RELATE TO THE POOR?

Good Morning!

The other morning as I walked from my guest house out on the street to catch a ride, I passed by a family of five sleeping on a cardboard mat. Throughout the day I was plagued by the memory of that family.

The next morning I again passed this family who were just rising from their night on the street. A short distance away I noticed a street vendor dispensing bowls of food to passersby. Motioning to the family, I asked if they might be interested in eating breakfast. Without hesitation they ran toward me to take up my offer. Moments later, as they were devouring their food, I caught a ride and was off to a hotel for a breakfast appointment. On a whim, while waiting for my guest, I picked up a copy of the British newsmagazine, “The Economist.

It then occurred to me that the cost of purchasing the magazine was about the same as feeding that family of five. For the family, sharing my loose change meant a few hours of relief from hunger; for me is spelled a couple of hours of informed reading.

I don’t know about you, but I am vexed when it comes to the issue of the poor. If I loved them as myself, would I have as many toys? Or live at a level so excessively beyond such economically marginalized people? Just how do I process Jesus’ statement,

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Lk. 12:33, 34)

Certainly God will reward us if we reach out to the poor, and punish us if we don’t,

“He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” (Prov. 28:27) (See also Dt. 15:10; Prov.19:17; Ps. 41:1-4; Isa. 58:7; Jam. 2:14-26)

Four truths come to mind as I wrestle through this difficult issue :

#1 Jesus did not attempt to meet everyone’s needs. (Jn. 5:1-8)

#2 Helping others is to be on a priority basis. (Gal. 6:10)

#3 Surely I must help others if I possess the capability. (Prov. 3:27, 28; I Jn. 3:16-18)

#4 Jesus placed high value on sacrificial giving. (Mk. 12:41-44)

QUESTION: When we do meet Jesus at the Judgment, will He view our earthly sojourn as one characterized by greed, or generosity? (I Cor. 5:9,10) (See also Rom. 14:10;Gal. 6:7;Eph. 6:8;Col. 3:24,25)

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

R. Dwight Hill

*Original Facts date March 22nd, 2000

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

CAN WE REALLY HAVE IT BOTH WAYS?

CAN WE REALLY HAVE IT BOTH WAYS?

So, this middle aged man comes to Christ. By this time in his life, he has obtained the perks and privileges of wealth and success which have become the very source of his security, ease, and status,

“The wealth of the rich is their fortified city ; they imagine it an unscalable wall…They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace…always carefree, they increase in wealth.” (Prov. 18:11; Psa. 73:3b-6,12b) (See Prov. 10:15; Job 31:24,25; Psa. 49:6-9; 62:10 ; Ecc. 7:12)

From time to time he has had to compromise his integrity to get where he is . Discretely, of course. That is, he’s “played the game.” Now and then he may have actually taken advantage of a few folks. As James puts it,

“…Listen, you rich people…Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded…You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you… You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence…” (Jms. 5:1-5 – selected ) (See Deut. 32:15; Neh. 9:25, 26; Job 20:15-29; Psa. 49:6-20)

And now, he has decided to follow Christ . But he faces a dilemma: “ Can he truly follow Jesus and sustain his current lifestyle without continuing the very compromises it took to obtain the wealth and status in the first place?” Perhaps that is why Jesus made this comment after the rich young man walked out on Him,

“…It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt. 19:24b) (See Jn. 5:44)

You see, our middle age friend wants both the benefits of salvation and the privileges of wealth . In other words, he desires the best of both worlds. But can he in fact have it both ways?

“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) (See Josh. 24:15)

In many parts of the world, obtaining and sustaining wealth is close to unattainable without compromising one’s integrity. The jarring fact is that liars, the greedy, and swindlers will not enter heaven,

“…Do not be deceived: Neither… thieves nor the greedy…nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God…All liars…will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (1 Cor. 6:9,10 selected; Rev. 21:8b)

So tell me, are you radically committed to uncompromising integrity in conducting your business affairs ? If you find that juggling a gold plated life style runs counter to living a life of purity and holiness, are you prepared to walk away from the former in order to sustain the latter? You and I may want to consider,

“Without holiness no one will see the Lord…What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Heb.12:14b; Matt.16:26)

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

R. Dwight Hill

*Original Facts date December 19th, 2001

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A SEDUCTIVE MISTRESS

Let’s face it: Money is a seductive mistress ! You can’t live without it, and you continually run the risk of it, like a charmed snake, reaching up and biting you to your destruction. Consider a vexing issue presented by John Wesley over 300 years ago, which serves as a sobering warning for you and me:

“I fear, wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore, I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of true religion to continue for long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches. How then is it possible that Methodism, that is, a religion of the heart though it flourishes now as a greed bay tree, should continue in this state? For Methodists in every place grow diligent and frugal; consequently, they increase in goods. Hence they proportionality increase in pride, in anger, in the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life. [I Jn. 2:12,16]. So, although the form of religion remains, the spirit is swiftly vanishing away. Is there no way to prevent this-this continual decay of pure religion? We ought not to prevent people from being diligent and frugal; we must exhort all Christians to gain all they can, and to save all they can; that is, in effect, to grow rich.” 1

If God has blessed you financially to the point that you have excess, you may want to consider these action steps:

  • Craft a mission statement for yourself and your family that will insure that you leave an eternal legacy relative to the building of the Kingdom of God. “ Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21)
  • Surrender your earthly holdings to God , making him the owner and you the steward: “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (I Cor. 4:2).” Carefully analyze Luke 12:16-21.
  • Determine to be a generous giver : “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful [hilarious] giver (2 Cor. 9:7).” (See Deut. 15:7-11)
  • Choose to be content with God’s level of provision and get off the upward mobility treadmill. Carefully study 1 Timothy 6:6-10 and Philippians 4:11-13.
  • Set limits on your work to insure that the pursuit of wealth does not crowd out your nurturing relationship with your spouse and children. It is all too easy for gifted and driven people to violate family relationships by their physical or emotional absence: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim. 5:8).” That little word “provide” means “to look out for” your family, which includes the financial but is all encompassing in scope.
  • Choose to live under your income . Put a cap on your standard of living. Prayerfully consider giving away your excess. “… From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Lk. 12:48b).” Keep in mind you have two important responsibilities beyond providing for your family:

(1) To participate in the work of building the Kingdom of God: “Jesus…said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…’”

(2) Helping the poor of this world. “ This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. ” (I Jn. 3:16-18) Carefully study Deut. 15:7-10, Proverbs 14:31 , 19:17 , Isaiah 58:6-12, and 1Timothy 6:17 -19.

CONCLUSION : Immersed as we are in a money-mad world of materialism and affluence, may God grant us his wisdom on handling wealth. If God has blessed us financially, there is no reason for guilt (Pro. 10:22 ), but we clearly need to understand that we will indeed give him an accounting as to how we handled this seductive mistress. (See 2 Cor. 5:9, 10)

This week may you experience His grace, peace and protection!

R. Dwight Hill

*Original Facts date December 19th, 2001

1 Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Dover Publishing, Inc. Minpola N. Y. 2003, pg 175