Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Reverence for God Leads to Honest Business Practices

Show your fear of God by not taking advantage of each other.
I am the LORD
your God.

In recent years, we have witnessed many situations in which powerful and wealthy corporations and business leaders have taken advantage of people. Precious investments and pensions have disappeared because financial moguls have failed to be honest and fair. The result has been devastating for the world's economy, not to mention millions of people who have lost jobs or the hope of a secure financial future.
        Leviticus 25 provides legislation that seeks to ensure economic justice for the Israelites as they settle in the Promised Land. Though many of the specific laws don't speak directly to our situation today, the underlying principles of Leviticus 25 surely should inform our business practices, whether we are running a giant corporation or selling our home. One of these principles is expressed simply in verse 17: "Show your fear of God by not taking advantage of each other. I am the LORD your God." The verb translated here as "taking advantage" could also mean "wronging" or "cheating." In context, it refers to the selling of property by establishing a fair price.
        What I find fascinating about this verse is not the basic command: Do not take advantage of each other. Rather, I am impressed by the rationale for this imperative. We're to treat each other fairly in our financial dealings because we fear God.
        Notice the intimate and necessary connection here between our reverence for God and our business practices. If we truly revere the Lord, then we will seek to honor him in our financial dealings. We will treat people justly as a way of worshiping God. We will be forthright in our business dealings because we belong to the Lord and seek to serve him in every arena of life.

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