Have you seen these billboards with one line messages from God? When we come home from visiting my wife’s parents we pass by a couple. It’s a clever marketing campaign. At first I chuckle, but then a sense of guilt begins to creep in.
Some of the messages are very convicting. As a Christian entrepreneur, I don’t need a billboard that reads “I Said Prophets, Not Profits! – God” to bring about that same sense of guilt while trying to make a profit. I still have to fight the tendency to feel embarrassed when I slide my invoice across the table to my client.
It’s something that small business owners seem to dread regardless of their faith. For Christians though, there is an added dimension. The rise of mega-churches preaching their “prosperity gospel” while selling everything from Bibles to Starbucks coffee in their lobbies has some Christians wondering if we’ve gone too far.
Should we even be trying to make a profit? Whatever happened to “blessed are the poor” they ask? They point out that Christ taught us to pray that God would give us our daily bread. How then, can we ask Him to make us wealthy?
Making a Profit – The Root of All Evil?
Well, let’s look at what the Bible has to say on the topic. This is the first verse that comes to mind for most of us.
It’s such a great verse, but too many misquote it as “money is the root of all evil” leaving out the “love of”. It doesn’t say that making money is evil, nor does it say wanting to make money is evil. It’s loving money, or greed, that is the root of all evil.
Despite what Gordon Gekko says in the movie Wall Street, greed is not good. In the movie, as in real life, those who chase after money are consumed by their greed and find they’ve “pierced themselves with many griefs” indeed.
How Secure is Your Vault? Storing Up Your Treasures
So it’s okay to desire to make a profit as long as I am not greedy? Let’s hold off on answering that question and look at what else Christ had to say.
19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:19-21, King James Version)
Is it the storing up of wealth that Jesus is concerned about here? Yes, but it’s our reliance upon this temporary wealth that He is warning us against. There is no real security in wealth, nor may I add, any real happiness.
Wall street giants are hoping they’re golden parachutes won’t fail them after being shook from their silver-lined clouds by the thunderous clap of this recession. The sad drama of Hollywood stars and professional athletes is displayed on tabloid covers one ruined relationship after another for the world to see.
Serving Two Masters, Who Will You Choose?
Somehow though, Madison Avenue breaks out the air brushes, paints over the bad parts, and sells it to us wrapped in a pretty bow. The sad thing is that millions still buy into this false sense of security and happiness.
The dilemma becomes where do you attach your loyalty? It’s hard for us not to follow where we’ve stored up our treasure. Christ says that
24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24, King James Version)
As Christian entrepreneurs, we know that the emperor is not wearing any clothes – but do we tell him? Or do we look the other way? Do we take a shortcut here and there to stay competitive and preserve our profit?
It’s harder to do if we’ve slapped that Jesus fish on our business cards, but many have compromised despite their advertising their faith. There are just some roads that Christian entrepreneurs should never go down – regardless of how profitable they may be. As profits become wealth, this temptation becomes greater.
The Results After This Brief Commercial Break
There’s still more verses to look at before we can answer whether Christian entrepreneurs should be trying to make a profit and build wealth. How are you doing so far? Are you asking yourself why you wanted to be an entrepreneur? Good, it’s something we all should ask ourselves from time to time.
Are you seeking wealth? Why? What will you do when you have become wealthy? Will you be able to handle the urge to rely upon this wealth?
Read the conclusion to this post Will Christian Entrepreneurs Squeeze Through? tomorrow.