I have some knowledge on how certain business ethics work in this western society, but as a Christian, all of those ethics do not always comply with the spiritual mandate of righteousness from God to His servants. So while I study to understand how to move as smoothly as possible in my entrepreneurial or employee pursuits, I can’t allow the foundation of my decisions to be dictated solely by the secular ideal of what is acceptable, but instead, make my foundation based on the word of God.
As we know, just because something is lawful in the world does not always equate to it being right in the sight of our Creator. I’m going to attempt to break down some things that I’m learning as I attempt to be more in line with the spirit of God, and these truths should be helpful to any Christian business person who really looks to please and acknowledge God in all their ways.
In the New Testament it says in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you 12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.”
I’m not sure how these verses are interpreted in various scripture circles, but in the company of brethren I fellowship with, we understand this text to be a clear signal to the early church to seek as much entrepreneurial business collectives as possible. The reason we believe this is because many people in the first century church were one of two things—either a servant, which is another word for employee, or someone who produced through agriculture or trade.
We also believe that the church that first formed under the leadership of the Council of the Apostles in Jerusalem is the template that all other groups that eventually formed in the Asian and Mediterranean world would have strove to model their oneness in spirit after. As is clearly indicated in the book of Acts chapters 2 through 5, there was a community created for believers in which they took their own assets and formed an economy that the Bible extraordinarily claims ensured that “none among them lacked in anything.” There is no historical evidence of any of the other churches back then or even today, nor secular governments that have ever demonstrated the same success the first church in Jerusalem achieved economically in caring for its people.
Now, having your own business doesn’t necessarily guarantee wealth by the world’s standard, but that the entirety of the brotherhood will be taken care of. Because of the ability to have your own business and produce for yourselves, you can truly fulfill the next verse which says to walk honestly toward everyone outside the church. From my perception, that honesty is pure truth, whether it agrees with or offends someone in the secular world; this is necessary if the church is going to speak full truth on behalf of heaven because honesty doesn’t always equate to people agreeing with it.
If your food, clothing, and shelter is being subsidized by a master, employer, or businessman who holds a paycheck over your head as collateral, it may cause you to pause and deliberate on whether you should speak God’s truth. It then becomes increasingly difficult to walk honestly toward the world that God has sent His servants to bring unto repentance for those who are willing.
Most of us have probably heard the phrase “A man who makes his own money feels free to tell any man the blunt truth even if it’s his own truth.” I fully believe that and no one understands what it means to truly be free more than God does. Jesus and his apostles had no economic ties that forced them to dumb down the mission or its message. Are those of us who claim to be followers of God’s way walking in that same freedom?