Over the past few months there has been a lot of fuss in my particular church over the business practices of a certain family in Chile that has been resolves, happily, now that those using the issue as a political wedge issue are out of the picture . Nonetheless, considering prevention of difficulty a vastly better goal than merely dealing with problems as they arise, I sought to develop a modest proposal for how this sort of issue could be avoided or minimized in the future.
To that end, I propose that the United Church of God (and other organizations as well which support the application of God’s entire biblical law to the full extent of human behaviors) would be well served to develop a program in order to provide guidance and counseling to members who own their own businesses or seek to run their own businesses on how God’s law impacts their business practices. This, naturally, would involve a variety of steps and interrelated developments.
For one, it will be necessary for both the ministry and the general membership at large to be aware of the fact that God’s laws concerning the practice of business affairs given in the Pentateuch are still in force, even if some if the application of the law must be determined and elaborated given the different circumstances present nowadays. Instead of determining issues only on an ad hoc, case by case basis, it would be excellent as well to study the Bible to find the general principles and specific applications already present in the scriptural record that can be applied and understood in advance of situations.
To that end it, will be necessary to develop instructional materials so that the relevant divine law can be brought to attention concerning how a business run by a church member is to operate in compliance within the confines of biblical law. The principles of Sabbath observance, of customer relations, of the payment and treatment of employees, on principles of liability, and so on, are all present within scripture. The large numbers of people involved with agriculture also need to be aware of the biblical principles of land usage that are present within the Bible, so that they may be compliant with God’s laws as well.
To this end, there are several tasks that can be accomplished. For one, a task force of researchers could seek to find the relevant biblical laws to business practices that apply today for development into articles (in the Good News, for example), booklets, Beyond Today broadcasts, and so on, of a practical and relevant nature to our lives in this world as well as in a better understanding of God’s ways. This particular group of people, hopefully made up of elders (as well as, members, perhaps) who have business experience on their own as well as a passionate interest in the application of God’s laws, could work for the development of policy on the front end, before problems develop, for the biblical principles to consistently apply.
Additionally, there can be the establishment of forums for business owners and entrepreneurs so that they can talk about their own issues and experiences and what sort of guidance they need about how to apply God’s laws accurately and consistently within their own businesses, and find support and encouragement from others in the same sort of work of providing godly institutions of businesses for the betterment of themselves, their families, their employees, their customers, and the world at large around them (through the positive example that they set).
On top of this the aspect of business counseling would need to be developed within the Church of God as well so that ministers and elders are able to provide wise and biblical counsel to the brethren concerning how to apply God’s laws in our business practices. After all, the way in which we conduct our business is one of the most important ways we show our true spiritual maturity and moral standards with the greater world at large. Biblical business practices can be a form of evangelistic effort by showing the fruits and practice of righteousness to the outside world, so that they are made aware of the benefits and joy of living life God’s way.
There are obviously many other areas concerning the counseling of business owners on how to apply God’s law in their business practices before problems or controversies develop, but this ought to be enough to provide for a great deal of improvement in how we apply God’s law in our lives, set a positive example of obedience to God for the outside world, and develop the capacity to discern and judge matters of God’s law in our daily lives and practice. Establishment of these efforts would not only be instructive, but it would also lead to moral development of a large portion of the membership as a whole and provide a meaningful, practical, and positive way of dealing with our responsibilities to God and other people rather than simply to reacting to problems after they occur.