…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
What’s should our response in the marketplace be?
How do we turn the other cheek?
Marion E Wade:
Despite my personal shortcomings, and the company’s hazardous beginnings, the fact remains that ServiceMaster has thrived and today I find myself at the head of a multi-million dollar, international corporation. And this fact is not as important to me as the way it has all come about.
The head of any corporation big or small has the responsibility of conducting his business along lines that will keep his employees working and keep his stockholders happy. But this is not his first responsibility. His first responsibility is to conduct his business along lines that will be pleasing to the Lord. And he must do so not because of any rewards he hopes to receive but because, for a Christian, there is no other way.
Many of the men I met in business are ready to declare that they are Christians if the subject comes up in our conversations. On the other hand, few of them have been able to state that they are applying their religious convictions to their business affairs. Either it hasn’t occurred to them that they should or they haven’t figured out how they could. In many cases, these men feel that by attending church on Sundays and perhaps even participating in Bible classes they are fulfilling all of their Christian obligations. The simple fact is that Christian obligations are also Christian privileges. They encompass the whole man. If there is any area of a professed Christian activities which is not permeated by Christian convictions, then a very important part of that person’s spiritual existence has yet to come alive.
It is also simple fact that the spiritual gap in the life of many Christian businessman is his business itself. At one time this gap was regarded merely as one of the occupational hazards of the business world – loving your enemies and turning your other cheek were all right in Sunday School but in the marketplace they meant bankruptcy.
As I do business with a man, I learn something about his convictions, and this is important. I feel that when I know what a man believes I can get a better idea of how he behaves. There have been times, however, when I had the impression I was in the presence of another believer, only to have the man turn into a snarling tiger when it came to agreeing on terms or carrying out the terms we had agreed upon.
This leads to an inescapable fact: If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it.
God guides us. Repeatedly the Bible assures us that He will, provided we do our part. In the Book of Proverbs we are told: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5,6). I can’t think of a better way for a businessman to avoid ulcers than to conduct his affairs according to this Bible promise. There is nothing materialistic about this. It is simply a matter of taking the Lord at His Word. Proverbs goes on to say: “Honor 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 the new wine.” To me, this is a clear indication that the Lord is interested in my “substance” — my business — and the way I operate it, and if I run in a way that honors the Lord I won’t have too much to worry about.
Time and again, businessmen have said to me: “I just can’t bring the Lord into my business.” Presumably, the man who says he can’t bring the Lord into his business has given the matter some thought. I have often found that the reason a man feels this way is that he doesn’t know much about the Lord in the first place. When possible, I’ve pursued the subject, asking: “What is there in the Bible that you feel you can’t possibly apply in your business?” The most frequent answer: “The Sermon on the Mount.” Each time I hear this I realize the truth in the saying that a little knowledge is dangerous.
Over the years, I have read and heard more about the Sermon on the Mount than any other part of the Bible. As beautiful as the Sermon is and as perfect as its precepts are for a Christian world, it can only be understood when placed in its proper time. Because some men feel they can’t live up to the Sermon, they decide the Bible has nothing else for them, and so they ignore it completely. I’ve been asked: “When I find out someone has infringed on my patents, do I turn the other cheek” And: “Am I supposed to love the competitor who is dirty-dealing me into bankruptcy?” According to the Sermon on the Mount, the answer is yes; but according to other portions of the Bible, the answer is: “Use the brains God gave you for the time in which you live.”
John 18:21-23, for example, tells of the time when Jesus didn’t turn the other cheek. He had been arrested and was cross-examined by the high priests about his doctrine, and He answered:
Why askest thou me? Ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.
And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying Answerest thou the high priest so?
Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?
Moreover, Matthew Mark and Luke write of Jesus’ anger when He discovered that merchants and money changers had turned the temple into a supermarket — He threw them out. It would appear then, that even the Saviour felt there were times when He had to hold His ground or get other people off His grounds.
God doesn’t expect us to act like fools or to neglect our proper duties to others for His sake. Loving us, He wants only the best for us and is always ready to show us the way. Loving Him, we honor Him by conducting our affairs His way, which is the Bible’s way. To be able to do this, we have to know what is in the Bible — the Whole Bible, not just a few pages of it. I have yet to hear a truly Christian businessman say that the Bible gives him any trouble in his office. On the other hand, the executive who says he can’t bring the Bible into his business, usually because of the mandates of the Sermon on the Mount, seem either to be showing his ignorance or dodging the issue.
From the time we had entered the rug-cleaning business, I had felt that it would be good for everybody if stores made our service a regular part of their rug departments. My idea was that a salesman would tell a customer to call the store whenever the rug needed cleaning, the store would notify us and we would go and do the job, with the store getting a percentage. Also, at the time of purchase, we would be notified, add the customer’s name to our prospect list and make periodic checks on the condition of the rug, again giving the store a percentage when we did the job. We would also receive records of past sales to check out regularly. To me, this was good for the customer because of the care given the rug, it was good for the store because it enhanced the store’s service image, and it was good for us because it brought in business.
It took me over six years to convince a store management that this was a good idea, but it didn’t take them long to find out how good an idea it was. In a year, we were doing a high volume of business. For obvious reasons, the store didn’t inform us that it had obtained a different cleanser and had gone into the on-location cleaning service on its own. As the calls came in, the store took as many jobs as its gradually growing cleaning department could handle, passing the leftovers on to us. This came to our attention when we received a complaint from a customer who wasn’t on our list. We did some checking around and discovered what was going on.
Our first reaction was the normal one — we hit the ceiling. Not only was the store violating our agreement, but they were actually doing the cleaning of many jobs which our salesmen had sold. It was a bad situation and it understandably riled us considerably. Then as Christians we realized we would have to resolve this in a Christian manner if we were to live up to the principles to which the company was dedicated. The Bible told us what to do.
Paul wrote to the Romans: “Recompense to no man evil for evil.” Now that is just as plain as a wart on your nose. The Saviour Himself had something to say about this matter of vindictiveness. Luke tells of the day when Jesus and the disciples were on their way to Jerusalem and they came to an unfriendly Samaritan village where they were not permitted to stay for the night. Annoyed, James and John asked: “Lord shall we command fire to come down from Heaven and consume these people?” Luke says that Jesus turned on them and rebuked them, saying: “You know not what manner of spirit you are of. The Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” Clearly, then, as Christians, as followers of Christ, as men who try to imitate Him in our daily lives, we couldn’t be destructive. But we needn’t turn the other cheek, either.
So after we cooled off and asked the Lord to forgive us for losing our tempers, we talked the thing over in a Christian way. Nobody had to consult the Bible. We had all studied the Bible and knew what was expected of us. Satan can quote the Bible as well as anyone else, but his trouble is that he doesn’t live it, and we were trying to. We didn’t want to be in the position of the pastor’s wife who was asked by her husband not to spend too much money for a while, particularly on clothes, until he got out of a financial bind that was temporarily gripping him. A few days later she came home with a new dress, and as the pastor was looking at it, he said; “Its sure pretty, honey, but I asked you not to buy any clothes for a while, remember?” She said: “Yes, dear but I was in the store and I saw this lovely dress and Satan tempted me.” He said: “Now, dear you know the answer to that situation from the Bible. You were just to say, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan'” The woman said: “I did that, dear but when he got behind me he said it looked beautiful from the back too.”
We didn’t want Satan anywhere near us. We got in touch with the store management and told them we wouldn’t be able to do business with them any more. But rather than leave them in a jam with a backlog of new orders coming in every day as a result of a customer canvass we had made, we said we’d go along with them for six months, which we figured would be enough time for them to expand their rug-cleaning department to the point where they could handle the whole thing themselves. And that’s the way we settled it.
The Scriptures are filled with stories of men who returned good for evil and I believe they were meant to serve as examples for us.
Source: Marion E Wade, The Lord is my Counsel, Prentice-Hall, 1966, pg 1-5, 7, 39-41, 109=111
A pdf copy of this book, click here, from Wheaton College.
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
March 30, 2015
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
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