I’m really excited to introduce a guest post from Marketplace Christianity’s Brad Harmon. Brad’s blog, Marketplace Christianity is helping Christians in business to discover and apply the practical principles of the bible that can make a real impact on our businesses, jobs and finances.
I have enjoyed being a part of the community at Marketplace Christianity and I highly recommend that you visit and join the active topics similar to Brad’s guest post here today.
What Does the Bible Say About My Business?
Have you ever been listening to a speaker when they quoted some source that just didn’t seem to apply to the topic on which they were speaking? This happens to me occasionally while listening to sermons. Sometimes, the preacher just gives the wrong reference, but at other times it’s obvious that it’s the correct reference but I can’t see how it fits his point.
What about when you’re reading Christian literature? Some authors cherry pick from various translations and paraphrases until they find a version that seems to support their point. Rather than read the passage and pray about how they can apply it, they search for verses that seem to support their preconceived notion.
Then there’s the case when the verses quoted are taken out of context. Put into the proper context the verse takes on an entirely different meaning. With so much confusion surrounding what people claim the Bible says about money, for example, how can we be sure that we’re getting the right message?
The Bible Isn’t Always Clear
At it’s essence, the Bible is a narrative about the Creator, His Creation, their fall from grace, and His measures to redeem them. It’s part history, part philosophy, part poetry, part legal code, part prophecy, part parable, and part biographies of the various people involved in God’s plan from Creation to Christ’s return.
Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians …
9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. – 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 (NIV)
Paul often spoke about the mysteries of our faith and the church. Jesus had to explain parables to His disciples that seem so simple to us. Of course, His explanations are probably why they are so simple for us to understand. It’s easy to see why there are so many opinions about what the Bible says about any topic.
The Bible Requires Earnest Study
You may be asking, “If the Bible isn’t always clear is it relevant to me in my business?” If we’re truly honest, what lessons in business (or life) are perfectly clear? Jesus says in Matthew 7:7, “seek and you will find.”
Paul writes to Timothy imploring him to …
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. – II Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
The Psalmist sings about this searching of the Scriptures as a delight.
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. – Psalms 1:1-2 (NIV)
What is it that our study and meditation on the Word reveals to us? Paul writes to Timothy to remind him that …
16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – II Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
Notice Paul didn’t write that some Scripture, but ALL Scripture is … He also writes that it thoroughly equips us for EVERY good work.
The Bible is Foolishness Without the Holy Spirit
I went to college at Texas A&M University where we have tons of traditions that combine to create a truly unique culture. We have a saying to explain it the best we can, “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”
The Bible is much the same way. Looking from the outside it’s foolishness.
20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. – 1 Corinthians 1:20-21 (NIV)
The only way you can understand it is to be on the inside. In this case, having the Holy Spirit living in you – revealing the truth to you.
9However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: 16″For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 2:9-16 (NIV)
Sue writes about this in Applying A Panoramic God View to My Business. She points out that what the Holy Spirit reveals to us is personal. It’s relevant for that person. I’d add that the Holy Spirit also reveals different applications of Scripture to us at different seasons of our life.
So What Does All of This Have to Do With My Business?
You hear the term “Christian Business” thrown around in conversation a lot. The truth is that Christian Businesses don’t exist. Jesus didn’t die for businesses. He died for people. Your business runs based on principles you put into effect. It is a reflection of your views, beliefs, and actions.
The Bible directly references money, giving, wealth, finances, etc. over 800 times, but some of the principles that have the greatest impact on the success of your business are those regarding how we relate to others. Every great business person knows that your business depends on the relationships you create and maintain.
How you treat your employees, customers, suppliers, and competitors is determined by who you are at your core self. Jesus said in Luke 12:34, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Maybe this is why He used money, wealth, and business as the source for so many parables? He used business examples to show us how to live our personal life. Why?
Because despite how hard we try to draw a line between our business life and our personal life, that line doesn’t exist. It’s only there in our minds. The actions of our businesses are our actions too; therefore, the foundation of our business is built upon our own personal foundation.
Knock and the Door Will Be Opened
Yes, the Bible isn’t always clear about particulars. God often chooses to teach us how to think rather than give us the answer.
Yes, the Bible requires earnest study. Using the Bible as it’s own commentary will often clarify what lesson should be extrapolated from a verse.
Yes, the Bible is foolishness unless the Spirit reveals the truth to you. Learn to pray, meditate, and listen for His voice.
Yes, the Bible really does have much to say about your business. It has even more to say about you which will transform your business if you let it.
Are you ready to open the door, and erase the line you’ve drawn between your business and personal life?
Brad Harmon is the founder and editor for Marketplace Christianity. A former certified public accountant, he now spends his time blogging, speaking, and consulting on ways to bring our faith into the marketplace.
Photo of door by Katie Miley