Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for December, 1997

Wednesday, December 31, 1997


Good Morning!

In many quarters of the world the offering or receiving of bribes is an integral aspect of  business. Because the Scriptures clearly condemn the practice, what is a follower of Jesus Christ to do?

Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous.”  (Ex.23:8)  [See also Deut. 16:19; 2Chron.19:7; Psa. 15:5; 26:10; Prov.17:23; Ecc.7:7; Amos 5:12]

According to Webster, a bribe ismoney or favor given or promised to a person in a position of trust to influence his judgment or conduct.”

Extortion, on the other hand is “…the act or crime of getting another’s money or property through force, under color of office, fraud, forgery, intimidation, threat, blackmail, oppression or show of might.”++ (See  Lev.6:4; Psa. 62:10; Eccl.. 7:7; Isa. 33:15; Jer. 22:17; Ezek. 18:18;22:12;22:29; Hab. 2:6)

While the Scriptures clearly condemn the practice of offering or soliciting a bribe, they are silent on the practice of paying money, or its equivalent (goods and services) when it is demanded. Jesus’ instruction may be relevant here

“If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” (Lk. 6:29b, 30)

Understanding the difference between transactional and variance bribes may prove helpful in working through this difficult issue:

  • A transactional bribe is “a payment routinely rendered and usually impersonally made to a public official to secure or accelerate the performance of his prescribed function.”* The payment is made not to violate a substantive norm but rather to assure the performance (with dispatch) of the official act or service that is available to the public. (Deut. 16:19,20; Amos 5:12, 13)
  • A variance bribe, by contrast, is payment given  where a norm has been varied, “not to facilitate or accelerate an act substantially in conformity with a norm,  but rather to secure the suspension or non-application of a norm.”**  Clearly, this kind of bribe is wrong.

To help you determine the morality of a particular course of action, ask yourself:

(1) Is this action against the law of the land?  (2) How does it fit with Jesus’ pattern of life?  (3) How are  other people affected?  (4) What does my conscience tell me?  (5) Which decision best expresses love? (6) Does this action fit in with God’s larger purposes for me?  (Rom.13:1; IJn.2:6; Rom.14:13; Act. 24:16; ICor. 16:14; 2 Tim.1:9)



 My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 24, 1997


Good Morning!

And doing a pretty good job of masking it from our fellow believers in Christ. And why do we continue the “affair”?  Simply because we love how it:

–  Panders our appetite for sensual gratification

–  Entices our eyes and caters to the greedy longings of our mind, and

–  Fosters our desire to live a life of pretension .+

The “love affair” to which I am referring is our surrender to the evil values of this world system that governs the goings on of mankind; a system which is headed by none other than Satan himself – “The Prince of this world.”  (Jn. 12:31; 14:30)

If we have capitulated to this Prince by currying a “love affair” with his domain, we have a serious problem. You see, as professed followers of Jesus Christ, God will not allow us the luxury of two loves:

If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (I Jn. 2:15)

We simply cannot have it both ways: Loving the “world” and loving God.

So how does one extricate oneself from a “love affair” with this world? Jesus’ prayer to the Father concerning the 12 disciples (Judas excepted), the night before the cross, gives us insight into the answer to that question:

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”  (Jn. 17:14, 17)

The inner transformation affected by the disciples’ intake of the word of God signaled to the world that they were no longer one of them.  So the world “hated” them.  In a similar vein, Paul stated that he was  “crucified to the world and the world to (him).” (Gal. 6:14b).  He in kind had grown to hate the “world system.”  In other words, both sides had written the other off because there was no longer common ground for fellowship.    

QUESTION: Are you resisting the world’s seductive charm by the inner change that results from consistent, and disciplined meditation upon God’s word? 

If not, you are choosing by default to foster your “love affair” with the “Prince of this world’s” dominion. And in so doing you have become God’s adversary, because “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”  (Jms. 4:4).


My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 17, 1997


Good Morning!

“Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not his saints…”

Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you…He has delivered us and will deliver us.  On Him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” (Psa. 55:22; 2 CoR. 1:10)                                

“Care more for a grain of faith than a ton of excitement…”

If you have faith as a small as a mustard seed, you can say to this…tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” (Lk. 17:6)

“Trust God alone, and lean not on the reeds of human help. Be not surprised when friends fail you…it is a failing world…inconstancy you may reckon upon without fear of disappointment…”

Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.”  (PsA. 146:3)

“Be content to be nothing, for that is what you are. When your own emptiness is painfully forced upon your consciousness, chide yourself that you ever dreamed of being full, except in the Lord…”

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…in any and every situation…I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  (Phil. 4:12b,13)

“Continue with double earnestness to serve your Lord when no visible results is before you. Any simpleton can follow the narrow path in the light:  Faith’s rare wisdom enables us to march on in the dark with infallible accuracy, since she places her hand in that of her great Guide.”

“They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune, for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, and their descendants with them.”  (Isa. 65:23)

“In nothing let us be turned aside from the path which the divine call has urged upon us to pursue. Come fair or foul…the ministry (is) our warfare; be it ours, when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of his wings.”

“…I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.” (Act. 20:24a)



 My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 10, 1997


Good Morning!

Just what is the acid test of  true repentance and godliness?

–  Our consistent prayer life?

–  Our faithfulness in sharing Christ with others?

–  Our discipline in paying our bills on time and not chasing women (or men)?


But John the Baptist, a no-nonsense spokesman for the Gospel, targeted three areas where so-called converts should PRODUCE FRUIT IN KEEPING WITH REPENTANCE.” In today’s vernacular he would well be saying, PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS!”  That is, prove your repentance by evidencing true:

  • GENEROSITY“If you have two coats, give one away…do the same with your food.”
  • INTEGRITY“No more extortion – collect only what is required by law.”
  • CONTENTMENT“Don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.” (Lk. 3:10-14; The Message; NIV)

Could it be that John the Baptist knew that for many of us the last part of our lives to be surrendered to God is our wallet?  Jesus knew that if He had the commitment of our money, He also had our heart:

“…Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”  (Matt. 6:21)

Recently, I was sitting in a hotel lobby and noticed a prominent “Christian” businessman praying with a pastor and another colleague.  Well-known around town for his generous support of Christian causes, this gentleman also enjoys the dubious standing among his peers as a “shark” in business.  Judging from his reputation, I doubt he would pass John the Baptist’s test of true repentance and godliness!

QUESTIONJust who does control your purse strings?  You, or God?  Would those closest to you in business say you are generous with your money, guided by integrity, and content with your income?

If the answers to these questions is not a resounding “yes”, then there is a pretty lean chance you are having a true spiritual ministry in the lives of others.  After all, Christ cautioned us, “If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”  (Lk. 16:11)



My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 3, 1997


Good Morning!

Across the street from our apartment, I am observing the arduous process of laying the foundation for a multi-story apartment complex. There is nothing aesthetically attractive about the operation as noisy pile-driving machinery, and earth-moving equipment disturb the air in this quiet residential district.

I’m told that 2/3rds of the construction effort will go into that part of the edifice few will ever see: the foundation.  I also understand that the process cannot be rushed. 

Recently, a construction company tried to cut short the procedure on a building’s foundation and ended up with a sky scraper that tilted at a slight angle. The contractors paid off the building inspectors and all seemed fine…until they attempted to put in the elevators!

So…How is your foundationRock solid?  Or slapped together in a rush? Have you submitted yourself to the laborious, and-less-than glamorous process of getting that foundation down right?  Or are you a tilting edifice that is spongy and off-center at the core?

The storms  of life will come to all of us, Jesus cautioned. But only those who make the effort to lay a solid foundation by knowing and applying the word of God will weather life’s inevitable tempests:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  (Matt. 7:24 – 27)

The Scriptures remind us, “when the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  (Psa. 11:3)

QUESTIONWhat practical steps are you currently taking to insure the fact that the foundation of your life is solid enough to weather the inescapable storms of life?


My prayer is that you are having a great week!