Is profit evil?
Luke 3:12, 13 -
Then came also tax collectors to be baptized, and said to him, Master, what shall we do? And he said to them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.
In India the Hindus start their Hindu new year with praying over their financial accounting books. They do all kind of rituals over these books and then taking saffron coloured powder make all kinds of religious symbols in many places over the book then they write the words 'Subh Laab' which means 'Good Fortune' or good profit. In Hinduism profit is very essential therefore they have a goddess 'Laxmi' / 'Lakshmi' dedicated for this purpose.
The Catholics too have a saint named Cajetan who is patron for good fortune among other things.
In the Bible too we see the pagans had gods dedicated to good fortune (incidentally the English word 'god' comes from a Hebrew word which was a name of a deity who was a god of good fortune) so we see how deep is this world in good fortune or lovers of money.
What should be a Christian's attitude towards profit? This is a big question which runs in the mind of most conscience self-employed or entrepreneur Christians. The answer to this question is available in the New Testament and also in detail in the Old Testament.
During the time of Jesus (as man on earth) the tax-collectors were a hated lot. Since the tax structure was not well defined so how much to tax was up to the tax collector. If he stated an amount as tax the person had to pay it or that person became a criminal. In Judah they had flexibility to pay their taxes by money or even partly by salt. Also people who came into the city had to pass through a narrow gate which they called the eye of the needle and if they had more goods that could not pass, they were taxed for the excess, so clearly undefined things like these gave the tax-collectors a field day to fleece the people.
In today's message we see Jesus advices some of the tax-collectors who were baptized to take taxes as appointed. Jesus did not say they should work for free but told them to be honest in their taking, that is to strictly follow the guidelines set by the government and take as per they were appointed. They had a share in the tax collected and to honestly give what belonged to the government. Not to cheat the people or the government.
In our country India we have a set of business guidelines called business ethics which are set by the government, they define the reasonable amount one can make, as profit. As Christians we are called to keep the law of the land we dwell in. If the country we dwell in does not have a set of well-defined law for this, then we are called to follow our conscience such that we do not exploit people but make a decent profit in our businesses.
In the Old Testament the Lord gives further guidelines which state, as per today's time we need to be more lenient towards other Believer brethren's and make the minimum profit when it comes to them and when it comes to others (non-Believers) we should not go over the decent profit margins set by the law of the land.
We Christians are called to not live like the people of the world but show the light of Christ in our day to day living. We are not called to make hay when the sun shine but are called to make the sun shine every day in our lives by our faith in God.
[ Prayer Starter ]
Lord, You set the weekly Sabbath and the yearly Sabbath so that we learn to trust in You as our provider and almighty God. Lord, guide your people that they witness You not only by verbal words but also by their way of living. Let them be example for the world to see and praise You...
This prayer we make in Jesus' Name, Amen.
[ Reference ]
21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
22 Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.
23 If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;
24 And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.
25 If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.
26 If thou at all take thy neighbour's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down:
27 For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.
6 Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.
7 Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.
8 And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.
9 Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
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