TEMPTATIONS TO COMPROMISE
- JUST SAY NO!
1. No Witchcraft
In many cultures, witchcraft seems to be a particular problem in the marketplace. Business people go to the Witch Doctor to attract business or to curse the competition. Some business people are known to use a fetish to bring success. In
If a partner or family member has such items in your shop you must deal with them severely. God cannot bless when others are seeking the Devil's blessing. Follow the example of the people of
2. No Fear of Curses
However, the Christian businessperson may become a target of such activity. Under these circumstances, it is important to stand on the word of God and under the protection of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:11). The Christian businessperson who has received Jesus as Lord and Saviour is "blessed" by God. Those who are blessed by God cannot be cursed. Balak hired Balaam to put a curse on
Christians in business should not be afraid of witchcraft directed towards them. Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." (1 Peter 3:13-14).
Occasionally, some disaster may befall the Christian in business. For example, perhaps their shop is destroyed by fire or a key employee falls sick. A well-meaning relative may suggest that the problem is a result of some witchcraft directed at the Christian in business. You must resist the temptation to seek assistance from the Witch Doctor to neutralize the supposed source of the problem. Jesus Christ knows why you are passing through this difficulty. He is the one from whom you should seek assistance. He will protect you and cut off any witchcraft directed towards you. He is also the one who will help you overcome the problem. So trust in Him not in any other supernatural power. (Read Psalm 91.)
3. No Stolen Goods
Another common practice in the marketplace is the buying and selling of stolen goods. Some indicators that goods are stolen are: an abnormally low price; the seller is very eager to sell; the item is not regularly sold in that place; the deal has to be done in secret. The Christian businessperson will be careful to deal only with goods that have a legitimate origin (Psalm 62:10) or he may come under God's judgement. (Joshua 7:12).
Remove any item from your shop that you suspect may have been stolen. It will place the security of your premises in jeopardy. Don't give the Devil an excuse to come looking for what is his by sin.
4. No Cheating
Another source of great temptation for Christians in business is the temptation to cheat on taxes or duties owed to the government. For example, it seems very difficult for Christian business people to properly declare all the goods that they are importing from another country for sale in their country. Duties and sales taxes are high in some countries and imported goods that go unreported will fetch a big profit in the market. Remember the verse: Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. (Proverbs 13:11). God cannot bless big profits made by dishonest business practice, so they will dwindle away; however, little profits earned honestly, God can bless and they will grow. So Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:7)
There are honest ways of beating the system. For example, I heard of an instance when an importer discovered a loophole in the import regulations for certain products. He was importing air conditioners into a certain country. The import regulations stated that air conditioners fitted with heating units would be taxed at 20 percent. However, air conditioners without heating units would be taxed at 5 percent. So the shrewd businessman simply imported the heating units separately from the air conditioners and assembled them upon arrival. Heating units by themselves were not taxed at all!
Christians in business can beat the system honestly by doing their homework, knowing the regulations and taking advantage of legal loopholes in the system.
5. No Purchases on Credit unless You have the Means to pay
Sellers may offer product on credit to increase sales. Christians in business need to be wary of the trap of purchasing products or services on easy credit. I once heard a story of a method used to capture monkeys. A round hollow gourd was fixed to a tree. In it was placed a sweet grape. The monkey would reach into the gourd through a small hole in its side. Once the monkey took hold of the grape he could not fit his fist back through the hole. His only means of escape was to let go of the grape. However, the monkey would not let go of his prize until it was too late.
This story illustrates the trap of easy credit. Christians in business must learn to let go of thinking you can have something for nothing. The Bible tells us that the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7). Easy credit can become a bondage for the Christian. Christians who owe money to creditors are less likely to tithe or be generous with their income thinking that they must first pay off their creditors. I have noticed that in many countries Christians are very much against the bondage of drinking alcohol. I believe that if the church was as zealous against the bondage of easy credit as it is against the bondage of alcohol that there could be a lot more resources released into the ministry!
6. No Forgetting to Pay Back your Debts
Another bad habit that Christians in business can fall into is that of forgetting to pay back the debts they have incurred either in business or in personal matters. The Bible says: The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; (Psalms 37:21). Borrowing money with the intention of not repaying it is a form of theft. However, I believe that most Christians in business intend to pay back their debts, but they simply forget whom they owe money to and how much they owe. It seems that sometimes the cultural expectation is that the obligation is on the lender to know the state of a loan and for the lender to come to the borrower when he needs the loan repaid. Not so with Christians in business: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8) Christians have an obligation to meet their commitments and need to take the initiative to do so. It makes good business sense as well. Who will lend you money if you do not repay your debts?
7. No Dishonest Scales
The marketplace can be rife with dishonest scales such as: adding paraffin to petrol or diesel; rocks in the bottom of rice bags or bags of charcoal; putting wax in the bottom of a measuring cup; adding detergent to hair cream; adding water to thin out paint, mixing corn meal and flour; selling a bag that is marked 25-Kg's but in reality only weighs 23-Kg's; or reducing the active ingredient in a product while advertising that it continues to meet industry standards.
Christians in business usually have the decency to avoid dealing with blatantly dishonest scales. However, some may find themselves caught. Suppose they purchase a truckload of 25-Kg bags of corn meal at the regular wholesale price and then discover that most of the bags actually weigh only 23 KGs. Should they then turn around and sell the bags to customers at the regular 25-kg price? Someone else's dishonesty is no excuse for Christians in business being dishonest. If necessary the bags can be repacked at 25 kg's and the Christian in business who is honest with his scales will absorb the loss. Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of
8. No Lying
Another common practice in the marketplace is selling locally manufactured products with imported labels attached to them. Also, cheap low quality imports may come in expensive brand name packages designed to deceive the customer. Audio and videotapes seem to have a particular problem here. Christians in business need to stay clear of dealing in any form that involves deception. The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. (Proverbs 12:22).
9. No Stealing
Stealing can take many forms. Christians in business will not take things that do not belong to them. However, they must also resist the temptation to charge people for work that has not been done or not perform work they have been paid to do. Taking time on the job site to conduct personal business other than what they are contracted to do is another form of stealing from the customer.*
Another common practice is the reproduction of copyrighted material. Christians seem to have little compunction in the duplicating of copyrighted audio or videocassettes. Recording artists have invested a great deal of time and money in producing the work that is copyrighted. To avoid buying a legal copy by duplicating it is a form of theft.
Intellectual property is as real as any other physical property. Plagiarism is also a form of theft. Christians in business need to avoid presenting something to others that they have copied as if they produced it themselves. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. (Ephesians 4:28).
10. No Bribes
Bribery and marketplace corruption are also common in some cultures. The Christian in business may encounter situations in which he may be offered a bribe or be required to pay a bribe. Suppose a customer wants to jump the queue and he offers a bribe to do it. Or suppose a new supplier wants your business and offers you a cash bribe to switch to him. The Christian businessperson must maintain a strict policy of not accepting cash gifts. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. (Deuteronomy 16:19).
As well, the Christian businessperson must not pay bribes for business: before or after the deal. To mask the reality, business people sometimes refer to bribes as cash "compliments" or "commissions." A commission paid to a person who is not an employee of the company is not a commission; it is a cash gift. Cash gifts are ways some people avoid taxes. The Christian in business must deal above the table in all respects. Avoid every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
11. No Extortion
Price Extortion is another problem in the market place. When commodities are scarce prices rise to reflect the demand in the market. However, in extreme cases the prices may represent extortion, especially when it involves essential goods like foodstuffs. Christians in business should resist the temptation to raise prices to extortion levels even if it means losing profits. God will judge the impact on the community and hold extortionists accountable if people go hungry because of price increases. People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell. (Proverbs 11:26)
Christians in business under such conditions should limit the increase in their prices to reasonable levels and limit the number of purchases that people can make so that others do not take advantage of the Christian's reasonable price turning the product around and reselling at extortion prices. In you men accept bribes to shed blood; you take usury and excessive interest and make unjust gain from your neighbours by extortion. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezekiel 22:12).
12. No Oppression
Another evil market practice is discrimination in selling based on arbitrary criteria such as skin colour, tribal origin or class distinction. Christians in business must not succumb to the peer pressure of treating others arbitrarily on a discriminatory basis.
The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice. (Ezekiel 22:29) Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.' (Zechariah 7:10).
Other Temptations to Say No to.
Get Rich Quick Schemes that "guarantee" you money for no work. For example, there are Multilevel Marketing Companies that are no more than pyramid schemes in which hapless new recruits "downline" provide "residual" income without the sale of products or services of value to customers. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. (1 Timothy 6:9)
Forgetting God once you begin to earn income from your business. When your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of
Hyper-competition: Gleaning your market without leaving business for other competitors. (Deuteronomy 24:19)
Delighting at the misfortune of a Competitor. (Isaiah 14:29)
*See discussion on the Ten Commandments from Simple Truth by Brian Hewitt of Christian Vision.