Is it possible for a Christian to be totally honest in his or her business practices? For example, a businessman told me that when he is negotiating for a sale, it is everyday strategy for the seller to start with a price higher than desired, knowing that the buyer starts with a price lower than would be acceptable. That’s a very common practice, but he wanted to know if it was honest.
Well, the question is important, and there are some guidelines that can help anyone who might be struggling with matters such as this. We always need to be aware of how much our value system is clearly evident in the way we handle our money. And we need to recognize that our value system is also very clearly reflected in the way we treat others where a profit or loss is concerned.
There is little doubt that in the short run a deceitful person seems to prosper. But, before too long, a devious person has to find new prospects, because others begin to recognize the dishonest practices. Deceitfulness may provide temporary riches, but that is not the sort of gain a Christian should desire.
When a Christian chooses to follow the world’s path and ignores the biblical principles that the Lord has provided for our benefit, he loses God’s fullest blessings. A businessperson might argue that when operating in the world, you have to play by the world’s rules. I assure you, that is not true. The Scriptures are God’s guidebook for Christians living in this world. And in Luke 16:11 God makes it very clear that if we will not respond correctly with such a relatively trivial thing as money, there’s no reason for Him to entrust us with any greater possessions.
I believe God has placed us in this world not only to witness to the unsaved, but also to refine our relationship with Him. The way you handle money and treat others where a profit or loss is concerned exposes a clear reflection of your value system.
To be frank about the matter, there probably will be times when others will gladly take advantage of your honesty. But, wouldn’t you rather be on God’s side in the matter? Christ Himself told us that there’s a price to be paid for following Him, but there’s also a great reward for doing so.
As a Christian, you need to accept God’s standard for doing business. God can provide material blessings to those who really follow His directions. You might not want to hear this, but sometimes He elects to store your riches for distribution in eternity. Nevertheless, when you do things God’s way, he will multiply your reward multiple times.
The Lord told us that a house, or a life, built upon sand would fall when the storms come, but one built upon the Rock would survive. We are in the midst of a materialistic storm today, and every Christian must decide whether to build upon the solid rock of God’s Word or the shifting sands of society.
The decision to do business by the world’s normal standards of guile and deception is a decision to deny Christ. "No household slave can be the slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t be slaves to both God and money" (Luke 16:13).
Every Christian needs to establish not only financial priorities, but also time use and ethical standards as well. Realizing that God is always watching and is always attentive to our every action and decision should be a constant reminder that Christians must be led by God’s directive and the principles of His Word.
Although some Christian business owners have financial priorities, many are not in line with God’s Word. "The one who lives with integrity lives securely, but whoever perverts his ways will be found out" (Proverbs 10:9).
Of course, the way you live your life and run your business is up to you. But I’m convinced that every Christian needs to come to the place where the approval of God is more important than the world’s riches. Only then will the full measure of God’s peace and power be experienced.
"But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22). Don’t be surprised to discover that honesty works in business and in all of life -- after all, it’s God’s way.
Howard Dayton is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. Dayton and the late Larry Burkett joined forces in 2000 when Crown Ministries, led by Dayton, merged with Christian Financial Concepts, led by Burkett. The new organization became Crown Financial Ministries, on the web at www.crown.org.
© 2005 Baptist Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.