Lessons from Luke: Money and the Christian Ethic
A friend of mine recently told me a story about a Christian organization where an administrator was confronted about a particular business decision that some thought was not “good business practice”. Stunningly, the administrator responded, “Well, sometimes we here at ———-, do not do things like the rest of the world.”
Those of us who heard the story were shocked at his response. His answer was a recognition of the fact that a Christian organization should be distinct from secular organizations. We all agree with that, however he was advocating a lower operational standards than non-Christian business! What he seemed to miss is that good, ethical business practices were invented by Christians – well, not Christians, but by Jesus Christ himself. Furthermore, businesses do not have to be “Christian” in order to follow the Christian ethic. Corporations who are honest, provide good value for customers and treat employees fairly are practicing the Christian ethic, whether they recognize this fact or not. Companies who employ false advertising, abuse employees and attempt to pass off a shoddy product as quality are not following the Christian ethic.
John the Baptist preached the Christian ethic before Jesus started his public ministry. Luke records his words in chapter 3, verses 10 through 14:
And the crowds were questioning him, saying, ” Then what shall we do?” And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.” Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”
John was calling on the people who had repented under his ministry to change their way of doing business. When Christ began his public ministry he expanded and explained these ideas further throughout the Gospels. The Sermon on the Mount provided a great culmination and summary of how the Christian should behave in life, family and occupation. Believers should have a distinct way of doing business, not a less ethical or less organized way, but a higher way. One who is following Christ should set the standard for how to treat people well.
Just in this small quote, we see the ideas of charity and selflessness. We see the tax collector, a person who had the greatest incentive and backing of the Roman army to take as much money from his fellow man as possible, we see him told to tax only at the government rate. The soldiers, the bullies of that time period, were told that they needed to go about their business with ethics and contentment.
How does your business measure up? More importantly, how do you as a person who claims the name of Christ, measure up to the standard of the Christian ethic?
Article by Stew
Photo by Haundreis