Church Education Trust

Christian Belief

ST008/8 The Ethics of Business


The Ethics of the Business.

a.General Considerations.

Honesty and openness in all transactions is essential. The Christian must set the standard, not follow others. His light is meant to shine and not be hidden under a bushel. There is nothing wrong in making money and being successful in business but all must be subservient to God and held in trust for Him and not for ourselves.

Material things need not be evil, they can be an anvil on which to shape our lives for the best. It has been said that "Love of property is like the thyroid gland; without it we are abnormal, but if it is too active, we get spiritual goitre and are choked to death."

Stanley Jones tells of a woman who, in the midst of a volcanic eruption and earthquake, when the land began to sink, tried to save her yams. They called to her to leave her yams and escape, but she clung to them and drowned. Stanley Jones comments`'The tide comes in in every man's life when he has to decide whether there shall be money dominance or God dominance."

The relationship between the employer and employee.The ethical consideration of the relationship between employer and employee is exceedingly complicated in modern circumstances and we cannot hope to enter into a full discussion of the matter. Basic principles, however, can be stated and there seems to be Scripture to back them up. (Eph.6:5-9).

On the employer's or overseer's side there must be discipline without condescension or a looking down upon the employee; there must also be an understanding and consideration of the employee's point of view. On the employee's side there must be honest work and a willingness to do a little extra sometimes without demanding the right to stop on the stroke of the hour or before.

Trade Unions would not agree with this in many cases but it appears the only Christian way. Between the two there must always be co-operation.

(b) The Ethics of Life in the world and as regards Civil Government.

General Considerations.

The Christian is to be in the world but not of it. He is in it in the sense that he is part of its life and activities; he lives from the environment that it provides and he is socially connected with the other members of the human race. He is not of it in the sense that he is to be separate from the worldly spirit i.e. the spirit of antagonism to and getting on without God.

Also he is not of it in the sense that he is detached from it as a thing of permanent value; he is only passing through and must let his attachments to its pleasures, occupations and society be very loose. There are some things he must condemn outright; they are sinful and evil and he can have nothing to do with them.

There are some things he must avoid; he cannot necessarily condemn them in everyone but they are not helpful to him in his Christian life. There are some things he must take his part in; he must have his business, or occupation; he must take his proper share in the government and administration of the country, in the righting of social wrongs and in the maintaining of law and order; he must also play his part in acts of benevolence, helping the needy and other such activities.

Our Lord likewise made it clear that the Christian has a purpose in the world. He does not call us followers the salt of the earth and the light of the world for nothing. Salt purifies, preserves, penetrates and produces thirst; its usefulness is in its potency. Light reveals, revives and releases.

As it is true that an organism expends power equivalent to whatever is taken into it from without, so the Christian can only be truly salt and truly light as he takes in power from God by prayer, meditation, reading of the word and maintaining a right relationship with God so that the Holy Spirit may dwell ungrieved within.

There are two things, too, of which the Christian must beware. He must not be harsh and hard; he must keep tender in spirit toward God and others and only hard to himself. On the other hand, he must not be effeminate and soft; he must not be weak and lacking in back-bone and determination.

c.Civil Government.

It is clear from the Bible that God desires law and order in the world and only so can God's purposes be fulfilled. Government of some sort is therefore ordained of God (Rom.13:1-5), but nowhere does God lay down what type of government it must be. There must be some kind of authority and this authority must be obeyed and supported (Rom.13:5-7). There will obviously be times when the commands of authority conflict with the Christian's conscience and the clear declarations of God's word.

In circumstances like this the Scriptural principle would appear to be to disobey the command but to submit to the penalty without resistance. Peter and John in the early chapters of the Acts are an example of this. Acts 12 is no contradiction. Peter did not resist; he merely took the way of escape when it was offered to him.

Neither did Paul on the occasions when he claimed his rights before the law. Claiming one's just rights before the law is quite different from violently resisting the law and fighting against it.

(d) The Ethics of Life in the Church.

The church is the place where we should shine for the Lord and be gloriously at home. It is our spiritual home in the world, the place where we retire to worship God and receive help, grace and blessing. By "church" in this connection is meant the local assembly of God's people where we worship and in connection with which we serve.

If there is more than one assembly in an area, it is natural and right to join the one with which we have closest fellowship in doctrine and form of worship. We are therefore in the main agreed. In this context there should be respect for each other's opinions, for we are bound to differ on many points; we are not to be just "yes" men.

We are, however, to "endeavour to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace". There must be true fellowship, prayer and co-operation and we must seek to abide by the rules, teaching and practice of the fellowship to which we belong. This is all reasonably plain sailing in the context of the local assembly; the problem arises when we consider our relationship to the wider church.

Unless we are very bigoted we shall not consider that we are the only true believers in the area, but will realize that there are others who love the Lord just as we do, though they belong to other assemblies which hold different views from us on some points. What is our attitude to be in this larger realm? There are probably five basic principles which can be said to govern this relationship.

  1. Clarity on Fundamental beliefs. There are basic doctrines which are essential to our Christian Faith. Without them Christianity would no longer be Christianity these cannot be sacrificed. There are also beliefs which are God-given convictions as far as we are concerned, but are not essential to the Christian faith as such. These, too, should not be sacrificed, but held firmly but lovingly and with understanding of the others' point of view and without beligerence. No real unity is ever built on the concealing or the sacrifice of fundamental or Cod-given convictions.
  2. Love and Respect. There should be a constant love and respect for those in other fellowships. To the world outside we should be united, and should refrain from unnecessarily discussing our differences. If there is obvious wrong which is brought before us, then it should, of course, be faced and not glossed over, but we should not parade the faults and failings of our own or other fellowships.
  3. Fellowship. There is no reason why there should not be fellowship with any who are born again and who acknowledge the deity and atoning work of our Lord, even though we may differ on many other points. This fellowship should be cultivated in every way possible.
  4. Prayer, If we can have fellowship with others, we can likewise pray with them. But beside praying with them, we should pray for them. Our praying should not be self-centred and confined to our own small interests, we should be broad in our outlook and in our prayer life. It is said of Hudson Taylor that he used to pray round the world before bringing the work of the China Inland Mission to the Lord.
  5. Co-operation. "We should not be individualistic, parochial or denominational in our outlook. Where ever possible we should co-operate with others in work which we can do together. If God calls us into a society which does not believe quite as we do, we should make quite sure of the call first, but, once there, we should not be belligerent about our beliefs but testify quietly and naturally as opportunity offers.

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