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?
By: Brad Harmon of Marketplace Christianity
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
Mike @ Biblical Strategies for Startups says
This is a good post Brad! It’s a reminder of fundamental the Bible is for life and for business life. But you are right: Jesus didn’t die for our businesses….He died for us…thank you for the reminder.
Great site Sue…this is going on my blogroll! 🙂
Thinking of Jesus dying for us vs. our businesses is also the reminder that we can’t place our business as an idol. We need to make sure we don’t get too wrapped up in it that we forget our main purpose in life is to shine a light on Jesus!
Thanks for visiting Michael!
Brad I believe that once we are on the path of seeking God’s wisdom the transformation begins. However, my thoughts immediately jumped to the idea that once we know God’s Word we are held to an even higher standard. We must live it!
This is such a great reminder to me that when I am actively involved in studying the bible how present I feel the Holy Spirit in my life. I truly feel I am not alone on the path. Your post is the key!
Thanks so much for sharing this with us!
Brad Harmon says
@Mike Holmes It’s interesting how the Spirit moves us sometimes. This is not the post I intended to write when I sat down to the computer, but it does help us understand that the Bible is relevant to our lives and our businesses.
If you haven’t read Sue’s post about applying a panoramic God view to your business, I’d highly recommend it. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that God’s message is tailored to each of us so what He is telling me isn’t always applicable to what He’s telling you. The fundamentals of the message don’t change, but the application is personal to you and your situation.
This site is definitely a great addition for your blogroll. Thanks for the comment Mike.
Brad Harmon says
@Sue Miley It’s my pleasure, Sue. Thank you for the invitation. I consider it a real honor. Your thoughts match well with Paul’s when he wrote
Jesus did all of the work for us. When we are saved, we become a new creature. This transformational process you, and Paul, talk about is simply us becoming what we already are. The more we study, pray, meditate on His word the more the Spirit reveals what we’ve become to us.
These glimpses make us realize how much God loves us, and how much is at stake when if we don’t stop being conformed to the world. This knowledge causes us to elevate our game, so to speak, similar to how athletes kick it into another gear when the clock is winding down in a close ball game.
Great observation! Thank you again for the invitation to guest post.
Is the Bible about improving myself, or rather about looking outward to my neighbor and helping him?
Johny Garner says
I really appreciate this post. Our faith should be reflected in the way that we treat subordinates, coworkers, supervisors, clients, and everyone else that we meet in our work. But too often, for me at least, the day-to-day tasks of work occupy my mind, and getting things done becomes more important than reflect Christ. As you say, the line between what happens on Sunday and what happens during the week is a human invention. This is a great reminder about submitting to God in all that we do.
@Brad Harmon: I’m still confused on how God wants me to start my business? Every verse that was spoken about in this blog has been on my mind all week. Ask and it shall be given…i’ve been asking but am I asking the wrong questions? The preacher this past sunday spoke of placing God first in our lives and not allowing anything nor anyone get in the way. Worshipping and Not watching is what he titled it. I still have to admit that I’m totally confused on whether God wants me to do this or not