November 23, 2014

Yoked Together With An Anchor

So the question arises about the joining of Christians and non-Christians in a business when complications arise. What exactly are Christians to do? Should they have even agreed to do business together?

When it comes to spiritual matters it is generally not a good idea to be tightly tied to unbelievers. 

Business agreements are more or less forms of contracts or covenants. There are different types of contracts based on where you are in the business and what function you serve. Because of this there is leeway in some of the contracts and the differences should be understood. Some business contracts / agreements carry more weight or spiritual gravity. To miss the importance of some of the nuances in these relationships can be spiritually deadly. Because some of the aspects of business relationships are very akin to marriages, this dynamic should be noted first.

The concept is pretty simple.

If a married couple contains one non-believer and the other becomes Christian or is a Christian, the believer needs to stay in the marriage in hopes that there will be a sanctifying effect on the non-believing spouse. This principle then needs to carry over to a business model.

Firstly, the most spiritually profound relationship most akin to a marriage is the business partnership. Partners are people on equal footing. Partners are formative of the direction of the company as a whole. Partnerships pretty much should require only dealing with other Christians. In truth a Christian is living by a creed or code that requires they behave and think in a certain manner that may put them in opposition to a non-believing partner. A non-believer is not always going to behave in a biblical standard. They are capable of behaving in accordance to a biblical measure but not always doing so in a cognizant matter. Partnerships for all purposes are covenants acutely similar to marriages. The Bible is clear here.

2 Corinthians 6:14 ~ Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

Amos 3:3 ~ “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?

The Bible is telling us that we are not to be bound together with unbelievers if only to avoid the implications involved with a double allegiance. Christians are bound to a biblical God-fearing standard and the unbeliever is bound to the rules of the flesh and the world. Because partnership requires a solid agreement that has spiritual implications, it is deemed foolhardy to enter into partnership with a person that does not hold themselves to God’s principles. You have two different value systems that, at their root, can never truly meet in the middle if the non-believer disagrees with a biblical requirement. It usually always ends up being the believer that bends inadvertently to avoid conflict and to remain Christ-like. At that point a covenant changes allegiance and the Christian’s allegiance turns towards the world. The believer then makes something else his motivating factor…something else becomes their God. It becomes their idol.

Exodus 23:32-33 ~ You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

If a person is in a spiritually unequal partnership, it should be treated like an unevenly yoked marriage since a marriage is a contract/covenant. We need only remove the marriage implications from the following passage to understand how to deal with a business partnership.

1 Corinthians 7:12-16 ~ To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

There is always the potential when God is involved for an unbeliever to come to the faith and God will often use the believer as the conduit to do so. If the unbeliever wishes to leave, let them do so. If there is the potential for a loss if a business partnership is broken the narrative of King Amaziah tells us that a believer who believes in a God knows that God can compensate for the loss if He wills it.

2 Chronicles 25:6-9 ~ He hired also 100,000 mighty men of valor from Israel for 100 talents of silver. But a man of God came to him and said, “O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the Lord is not with Israel, with all these Ephraimites. But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has power to help or to cast down.” And Amaziah said to the man of God, “But what shall we do about the hundred talents that I have given to the army of Israel?” The man of God answered, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this.”

After this example things start to become more muddled and a bit confused when we carry them over to a business relationship. There are other Scripture scenarios that might be used to draw out principles in certain situations.

We then have the employees who are usually deemed subordinate. We need to realize that employees are people that the owners or operators bring in their circle to help do business. There is still a need for allegiance to a value system by the employee and that system must be Christian in a Christian company. The employee must at least behave in a Christian manner when hired by a Christian. It is part of the covenant or employee contract that an employee must acquiesce to as a condition for hiring and employment. Please note I did not say the employee had to become Christian…but they are most certainly expected to live up to basic moral and ethical standards put forth by Christian ownership.

In other words, employees don’t have to be a Christian to work for a Christian owner but they must not degrade the conditions on site and influence people away from God or cause apostasy. Employees rarely affect the direction of the company through their decisions but if employees do cause too much dissension it can invariably be destructive. Its called a spirit of discontent. The bottom-line is that employees can affect morale and culture and that is exactly why they need to adhere to a Christian owner's standards. If not, they have the ability through poor unbiblical behavior to swing people away from God and the righteous standards in Scripture. A similar situation to this is what we saw in Solomon binding himself to pagan wives for political gains. They were merely business decisions with unbelievers to either maintain peace or gain more influence, power or money. Because he did not expect them to move to his Godly standard, he moved to theirs and they corrupted his spirituality. The value system in a company must always be Christian or the Christian will most likely end up compromising to the ways of the world.

Then there are finally contractors. Contractors are people that are brought in from the outside strictly on a contract or short-term basis. This is pretty much a no-brainer. Contractors are contracted to get work done. Contractors most often are a temporary stop-gap measure. They offer a service you don't have on staff or don't have the capabilities to provide. They need to do the work in accordance with an agreement and move on. This is strictly a business decision. It is not a covenant like a marriage. This is more or less how we do business today in the market square. When I go to a bakery I am not necessarily looking for a Christian bakery to make me a Christian cake. I just want a cake I cannot make on my own.

Your prayers are almost invisible in the equation in the world but for discerning the correct thing to is absolutely critical. You must never forget that a Christian’s primary business partner or more specifically their “partner in covenant" is God. By not praying we are essentially ignoring and not communicating with the person that has the largest stake or interest in our business (our lives). As any businessperson will tell you, businesses/covenants without proper communication with their primary shareholder will most certainly fail to meet their expectations. If they don’t fail they will certainly struggle greatly without input and help from their largest partner.

Hebrews 6:19 ~ "We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain..."

Either way, these business covenants tie us to spiritual anchors. They also show what anchor we chose in this life. Anchors can be good and firmly anchor us in God's word and his righteous principles or the anchors we're tied to can be bad and drag us to the bottom spiritually. Which anchor do you wish to be tied to? The one that will lift you up to eternal life or the one that drags you under drowning you in sin and the abyss of condemnation?

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