Thinking biblically about business ethics

The topic of biblical business ethics is fraught with problems. Let’s look at two key issues.

First, today’s cultural elites do not encourage thinking. Feeling is the flavor of 2017. TV programs, movies, video games and images promote emotions, not deep thought. Reading, especially reading of complicated, nuanced topics is seldom promoted. James Montgomery Boice argued that, culturally, we have lost our ability to follow a complicated, detailed written argument.

News stories are dominated by individual examples of carefully selected, emotionally powerful, musically enhanced illustrations of a preconceived point with little attempt to balance or to inspire deep thought. So, the first questions one must ask about thinking biblically are do I really want to think deeply and am I willing to expend emotional energy to stretch myself and explore life’s challenges constructively?

Not all of us will answer yes.

Second, thinking biblically implies knowledge. Paul praises God for the riches of His wisdom and knowledge in Romans 11:33. Therefore, to think biblically, we must know our Bibles. We ought know more than “Jesus loves me” or the 15 most common verses. We should immerse ourselves in the rich treasury of human history the Old Testament gives us, we should savor the deep teachings of Paul’s letters to churches, and we must ask God to imprint on our hearts the truths Jesus taught about the practicalities of life.

It is a tragic lie to tell ourselves we are thinking biblically if we have never read the whole Bible and attempted to apply its teaching to our everyday lives. But thinking biblically requires more than being in our Bibles. The Bible must be in us, its truth exuding from the pores of our everyday existence into the waiting arms of a pagan culture. Our ethics, therefore, will not simply be better; they will also be different! Different enough that they inspire other people to ask questions such as “Why are you doing such an unnatural thing?” and “Where did you get such a strange idea?”

Next question: are we willing to study our Bible? I do not mean a 15-minute morning devotional with a dandy-sounding little ditty, but committed, serious thought and study with the hope that God will transform our heart and thinking. Paul tells the Roman church that their spiritual act of worship is to be transformed by the renewal of their minds (Romans 12:2). That only happens if we ask God for a biblical hunger, biblical thinking and a biblical mind. There are no shortcuts – just the glorious, gold-filled pages of wisdom that await the soul who pledges to this life’s journey.

There is far too much talk about thinking biblically and not nearly enough commitment to the fulfilling journey that thinking biblically demands. I pray that more of us will sign up for the good of our families, churches, cities and nation.

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