Business Principles and Methods
There is no branch of legitimate business for which the Bible does
not afford an essential preparation. Its principles of diligence,
honesty, thrift, temperance, and purity are the secret of true success.
These principles, as set forth in the book of Proverbs, constitute a
treasury of practical wisdom. Where can the merchant, the artisan, the
director of men in any department of business, find better maxims for
himself or for his employees than are found in these words of the wise
"Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand
before kings; he shall not stand before mean men." Proverbs 22:29.
"In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth
only to penury." Proverbs 14:23.
"The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing."
"The drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness
shall clothe a man with rags." Proverbs 13:4; 23:21.
"A talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him
that flattereth with his lips." Proverbs 20:19.
"He that hath knowledge spareth his words;" but "every
fool will be meddling." Proverbs 17:27; 20:3.
"Go not in the way of evil men;" "can one go upon hot
coals, and his feet not be burned?" Proverbs 4:14; 6:28.
"He that walketh with wise men shall be wise." Proverbs
"A man that hath friends must show himself friendly."
The whole circle of our obligation to one another is covered by that
word of Christ's, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,
do ye even so to them." Matthew 7:12.
How many a man might have escaped financial failure and ruin by
heeding the warnings, so often repeated and emphasised in the
"He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent."
"Wealth gotten in haste shall be diminished: but he that
gathereth by labour shall have increase." Proverbs 13:11, R.V.,
"The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed
to and fro of them that seek death." Proverbs 21:6.
"The borrower is servant to the lender." Proverbs 22:7.
"He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he
that hateth suretyship is sure." Proverbs 11:15.
"Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of
the fatherless: for their Redeemer is mighty; He shall plead their cause
with thee." "He that oppresseth the poor to increase his
riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want."
"Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a
stone, it will return upon him." Proverbs 23:10, 11; 22:16; 26:27.
These are principles with which are bound up the well-being of
society, of both secular and religious associations. It is these
principles that give security to property and life. For all that makes
confidence and co-operation possible, the world is indebted to the law
of God, as given in His word, and as still traced, in lines often
obscure and well-nigh obliterated, in the hearts of men.
The psalmist's words, "The law of Thy mouth is better unto me
than thousands of gold and silver" (Psalm 119:72), state that which
is true from other than a religious point of view. They state an
absolute truth and one that is recognised in the business world. Even in
this age of passion for money getting, when competition is so sharp and
methods are so unscrupulous, it is still widely acknowledged that, for a
young man starting in life, integrity, diligence, temperance, purity,
and thrift constitute a better capital than any amount of mere money.
Yet even of those who appreciate the value of these qualities and
acknowledge the Bible as their source, there are but few who recognise
the principle upon which they depend.
That which lies at the foundation of business integrity and of true
success is the recognition of God's ownership. The Creator of all
things, He is the original proprietor. We are His stewards. All that we
have is a trust from Him, to be used according to His direction.
This is an obligation that rests upon every human being. It has to do
with the whole sphere of human activity. Whether we recognise it or not,
we are stewards, supplied from God with talents and facilities, and
placed in the world to do a work appointed by Him.
To every man is given "his work" (Mark 13:34), the work for
which his capabilities adapt him, the work which will result in greatest
good to himself and to his fellow men, and in greatest honour to God.
Thus our business or calling is a part of God's great plan, and, so
long as it is conducted in accordance with His will, He Himself is
responsible for the results. "Labourers together with God" (1
Corinthians 3:9), our part is faithful compliance with His directions.
Thus there is no place for anxious care. Diligence, fidelity, caretaking,
thrift, and discretion are called for. Every faculty is to be exercised
to its highest capacity. But the dependence will be, not on the
successful outcome of our efforts, but on the promise of God. The word
that fed Israel in the desert, and sustained Elijah through the time of
famine, has the same power today. "Be not therefore anxious (R.V.),
saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? . . . Seek ye first
the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be
added unto you." Matthew 6:31-33.
He who gives men power to get wealth has with the gift bound up an
obligation. Of all that we acquire He claims a specified portion. The
tithe is the Lord's. "All the tithe of the land, whether of the
seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree," "the tithe of
the herd, or of the flock, . . . shall be holy unto the Lord."
Leviticus 27:30, 32. The pledge made by Jacob at Bethel shows the extent
of the obligation. "Of all that Thou shalt give me," he said,
"I will surely give the tenth unto Thee." Genesis 28:22.
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse" (Malachi
3:10), is God's command. No appeal is made to gratitude or to
generosity. This is a matter of simple honesty. The tithe is the Lord's;
and He bids us return to Him that which is His own.
"It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."
1 Corinthians 4:2. If honesty is an essential principle of business
life, must we not recognise our obligation to God--the obligation that
underlies every other?
By the terms of our stewardship we are placed under obligation, not
only to God, but to man. To the infinite love of the Redeemer every
human being is indebted for the gifts of life. Food and raiment and
shelter, body and mind and soul--all are the purchase of His blood. And
by the obligation of gratitude and service thus imposed, Christ has
bound us to our fellow men. He bids us, "By love serve one
another." Galatians 5:13. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto
one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me."
"I am debtor," Paul declares, "both to the Greeks, and
to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise." Romans
1:14. So also are we. By all that has blessed our life above others, we
are placed under obligation to every human being whom we might benefit.
These truths are not for the closet more than for the counting room.
The goods that we handle are not our own, and never can this fact safely
be lost sight of. We are but stewards, and on the discharge of our
obligation to God and man depend both the welfare of our fellow beings
and our own destiny for this life and for the life to come.
"There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that
withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty."
"Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many
days." "The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that
watereth shall be watered also himself." Proverbs 11:24, 25;
"Labour not to be rich. . . . Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that
which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away
as an eagle toward heaven." Proverbs 23:4, 5.
"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed
down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your
bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be
measured to you again." Luke 6:38.
"Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits
of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy
presses shall burst out with new wine." Proverbs 3:9, 10.
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be
meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts,
if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a
blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will
rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits
of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time
in the field. . . . And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall
be a delightsome land." Malachi 3:10-12.
"If ye walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do
them; then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield
her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And
your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach
unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell
in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, . . . and none
shall make you afraid." Leviticus 26:3-6.
"Seek judgement, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless,
plead for the widow." "Blessed is he that considereth the
poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will
preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the
earth: and Thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies."
"He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that
which he hath given will He pay him again." Isaiah 1:17; Psalm
41:1, 2; Proverbs 19:17.
He who makes this investment lays up double treasure. Besides that
which, however wisely improved, he must leave at last, he is
amassing wealth for eternity,-- that treasure of character which is the
most valuable possession of earth or heaven.
Honest Business Dealings
"The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance
shall be forever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the
days of famine they shall be satisfied." Psalm 37:18, 19.
"He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and
speaketh the truth in his heart. . . . He that sweareth to his own hurt,
and changeth not;" "he that despiseth the gain of oppressions,
that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, . . . and shutteth his
eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high: . . . bread shall be
given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the King in
His beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off." Psalm
15:2-4; Isaiah 33:15-17.
God has given in His word a picture of a prosperous man--one whose
life was in the truest sense a success, a man whom both heaven and earth
delighted to honour. Of his experiences Job himself says:
"In the ripeness of my days,
When the secret of God was upon my tent;
When the Almighty was yet with me,
And my children were about me; . . .
When I went forth to the gate unto the city,
When I prepared my seat in the broad place [margin],
The young men saw me and hid themselves,
And the aged rose up and stood;
The princes refrained talking,
And laid their hand on their mouth;
The voice of the nobles was hushed. . . .
"For when the ear heard me, then it blessed me;
And when the eye saw me, it gave witness unto me;
Because I delivered the poor that cried,
The fatherless also, and him [margin], that had none to help him.
"The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me;
And I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.
I put on righteousness, and it clothed me:
My justice was as a robe and a diadem.
I was eyes to the blind,
And feet was I to the lame.
I was a father to the needy:
And the cause of him that I knew not I searched out."
"The stranger did not lodge in the street:
But I opened my doors to the traveller."
"Unto me men gave ear, and waited. . . .
And the light of my countenance they cast not down.
I chose out their way, and sat chief,
And dwelt as a king in the army,
As one that comforteth the mourners."
Job 29:4-16, R.V.; 31:32; 29:21-25.
"The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no
sorrow with it." Proverbs 10:22.
"Riches and honour are with Me," declares Wisdom;
"yea, durable riches and righteousness." Proverbs 8:18.
The Bible shows also the result of a departure from right principles
in our dealing both with God and with one another. To those who are
entrusted with His gifts but indifferent to His claims, God says:
"Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye
eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink;
ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth
wages to put it into a bag with holes. . . . Ye looked for much, and,
lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon
it." "When one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were
but ten: when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out
of the press, there were but twenty." "Why? saith the Lord of
hosts. Because of Mine house that is waste." "Will a man rob
God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In
tithes and offerings." "Therefore the heaven over you is
stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit." Haggai
1:5-9; 2:16; Malachi 3:8; Haggai 1:10.
"Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, . . . ye
have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have
planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them."
"The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in
all that thou settest thine hand unto." "Thy sons and thy
daughters shall be given unto another, . . . and thine eyes shall look,
and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no
might in thine hand." Amos 5:11; Deuteronomy 28:20, 32.
"He that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in
the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool." Jeremiah
The accounts of every business, the details of every transaction,
pass the scrutiny of unseen auditors, agents of Him who never
compromises with injustice, never overlooks evil, never palliates wrong.
"If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent
perverting of judgement and justice, . . . marvel not at the matter: for
He that is higher than the highest regardeth." "There is no
darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide
themselves." Ecclesiastes 5:8, Job 34:22.
"They set their mouth against the heavens. . . . And they say,
How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?"
"These things hast thou done," God says, "and I kept
silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself:
but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes,"
Psalms 73:9-11; 50:21.
"I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a
flying roll. . . . This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of
the whole earth: for everyone that stealeth shall be cut off as on this
side according to it; and everyone that sweareth shall be cut off as on
that side according to it. I will bring it forth, saith the Lord of
hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the
house of him that sweareth falsely by My name: and it shall remain in
the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and
the stones thereof." Zechariah 5:1-4.
Against every evildoer God's law utters condemnation. He may
disregard that voice, he may seek to drown its warning, but in vain. It
follows him. It makes itself heard. It destroys his peace. If unheeded,
it pursues him to the grave. It bears witness against him at the
judgement. A quenchless fire, it consumes at last soul and body.
"What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world,
and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his
soul?" Mark 8:36, 37.
This is a question that demands consideration by every parent, every
teacher, every student--by every human being, young or old. No scheme of
business or plan of life can be sound or complete that embraces only the
brief years of this present life and makes no provision for the unending
future. Let the youth be taught to take eternity into their reckoning.
Let them be taught to choose the principles and seek the possessions
that are enduring--to lay up for themselves that "treasure in the
heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth
corrupteth;" to make to themselves friends "by means of the
mammon of unrighteousness," that when it shall fail, these may
receive them "into the eternal tabernacles." Luke 12:33; 16:9,
All who do this are making the best possible preparation for life in
this world. No man can lay up treasure in heaven without finding his
life on earth thereby enriched and ennobled.
"Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the
life that now is, and of that which is to come." 1 Timothy 4:8.
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