|Give freely without begrudging it, and the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do. — Deuteronomy 15:10
Modern businesses state that they exist “to make a profit” and “to provide a service.” Some even add “to care for the well-being” of their workforce. But often this concern is more pragmatic than anything else—a happy worker is a more productive worker! It is more a concern for the bottom line than for the worker on the assembly line.
The Lord handed down to Israel a unique set of principles for doing business. Take, for instance, the law of release. Every seventh year the land had to be left uncultivated in order that it might have a Sabbath rest, so that it might be more productive. The law of release stated that, when the Sabbath year came, people laboring under debt were granted release from their debt. Whether the release was a permanent cancellation or a temporary reprieve has been debated. Either way, sharp businessmen, knowing that the year of release was coming, would not wish to make a loan where repayment would be delayed—or even cancelled! But God instructed them not to be “mean-spirited” and to make the loan anyway! A similar provision related to the situation of those in a state of bankruptcy who had no option but to sell themselves—their only remaining asset—into slavery. The law of release stipulated that, when the Sabbath year arrived, such slaves should be allowed to go free. Understandably, some businessmen were reluctant to let go of free labor. But God told them not only to let them go but to give them “a generous farewell gift.”
What should be the attitude of the Christian businessperson? If he doesn’t provide a product or service he’ll be out of business, and if he doesn’t turn a profit he’ll go bankrupt. So those two objectives are “givens.” But what should be his attitude to the people he works with or who work for him? To answer this question, we need to remember that the Christian man in business is a Christian first and a businessman second. His business activities provide the environment in which his Christian convictions shine through. Nowhere will this be more evident than in the way he treats people. But how should he treat them? He should remember that he is not dealing solely with a human machine but with a person—a person whom God made and for whom Christ died, and whose well-being is one of God’s concerns. So the Christian businessman’s major concern should be how to treat people, who have eternal worth, in a way that pleases God. For God, generosity is a given, and with God, a generous approach means business!
For further study: Deuteronomy 15:1-18
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.