Business for the glory of God
Wayne Grudem if probably best known for his Systematic Theology – a great reference work of some 1,300 pages. However this book, both in subject and size contrasts with that work. Here is a short book of some 100 pages exploring God’s view of today’s business world and our responsibility within it. That said the ability that Grudem has to bring a Biblical perspective to discussions to search for God’s truth is present in abundance in both books.
Business for the glory of God starts with the premise that the Bible upholds business as being morally good. That’s quite a bold statement in today’s world, particularly in today’s Christian world. Yet, having read this book, and worked within the financial sector in the UK, I, like Grudem, believe it to be true. How? Because Grudem, with Biblical insight and logic, shows that ‘many aspects of business activity are morally good in themselves, and that in themselves they bring glory to God- though they also have great potential for misuse and wrongdoing.’ (p.12)
The areas of business activity which Grudem considers are ownership, productivity, employment, commercial transactions, profit, money, inequality of possessions, competition and borrowing and lending. In each of these areas he argues that in themselves these things can glorify God – for example, owning possessions can be a morally good thing, for those things can be used for the glory of God. Yet in each chapter he also shows how the world of abuses business activity to glorify individuals instead. So to continue the example, Grudem argues that owning possessions is, instead of something that glorifies God, something that divides, drives oppression of others, turns people away from the gospel, advance our own pride, greed or wealth.
If you work in business and are trying to balance God’s calling to work in that environment with the morality of the companies you own or work for, then this book will help you see how you can honour God in your work, giving him glory. Equally if you look from the outside on the business world, and are critical of the system in which we live and work, and look to criticise or even protest against it, then this book will help you to support those working in business, and might guide you to see God’s glory in places you didn’t expect.
But what if Christians could change their attitudes toward business, and what if Christians could begin to change the attitudes of the world toward business?
If attitudes toward business change in the ways I have described, then who could resist being a God-pleasing subduer of the earth who uses materials from God’s good creation and works with the God-given gift of money to earn morally good profits, and shows love to his neighbors by giving them jobs and producing material goods that overcome world poverty, goods that enable people to glorify God for his goodness, that sustain just and fair differences in possessions and that encourage morally good and beneficial competition? What a great career that would be! What a great activity for governments to favor and encourage! What a solution to world poverty! What a great way to give glory to God!