“…I’m still convinced that the good life is reserved
for the person who fears God,
who lives reverently in his presence,
and that the evil person will not experience a “good” life.
No matter how many days he lives,
they’ll all be as flat and colorless as a shadow—
because he doesn’t fear God.” Ecclesiastes 8:11-13
Many business people think a certain margin of dishonesty and violation of ethics is acceptable. Supposedly, it’s just part of doing business. And hey, if no one finds out, and you don’t get caught, what’s the problem?
Is telling white lies to cover mistakes or help your agenda wrong? Or what about bribing your way in instead of earning it? How do you feel when a car mechanic tells you he’s charging for three hours’ labor when you know he’ll get it done in one hour? Or he says the part costs him $X, but he doesn’t tell you his distributor gives him a rebate.
If they’re doing it, why can’t we? It’s part of an accepted moral code in many cultures and “everybody does it.” If we all do it, we come out the same in the end. It pays the bills and they don’t know the difference, so what’s the problem?
These things might seem small to the person doing the business. But when it happens to us, we feel we were deceived. Or try to look the other way.
The consequences for getting caught won’t result in a murder rap. But the principle behind it is evil. Taking advantage of people when they don’t know it and pushing ourselves just a tiny bit further ahead is subtle but at its core is unfair and rooted in selfishness. These choices originate in a depraved, invisible soul that gets darker by the deal. Those souls turn gray and eventually black.
While the people we defraud may never find out, our dirty secrets rot our souls and corrode our organizations from the inside. We may appear fine on the outside for a while, but as our roots rot, the winds of adversity eventually will blow us over.
The book of Ecclesiastes describes a man who has many riches, but because his days are dark, he cannot enjoy what he has.
We don’t need to live in the ever-darkening gray world of compromise. Instead, let’s live uprightly in full color, enjoying what we have, blessing others, even when they don’t know it. Fearing the consequences of wrong, and treating others like you want to be treated makes everyone win for the long haul without shortcuts and dishonesty.