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  How Honest Are You?Sunday, December 10th, 2023  
© Copyright 2001, By Jan Wallen

Honesty in business is talked about in many businesses and at all levels of business, from the mom-and-pop neighborhood store to large corporations. It sounds good: "We conduct an honest and ethical business."

It's a great PR statement and one that we hear constantly from all types of businesses. What many of them are really saying is that we should do business with them because they are honest and we can trust what they are telling us in their sales materials and advertising. All too often, this statement of honesty is merely part of the business' marketing strategy used in an attempt to create credibility with the largest number of potential customers.

At the root of the problem is the fact that civil and legislative authorities, which govern the conduct of business in our society, establish the codes, regulations and laws. These rules of law are based on practical economic and legal ethical standards and have nothing to do with the application of Christian or moral standards. You can operate completely within the law and still cheat, mislead and otherwise perform dishonest acts. But what does this really mean? For example a Christian views honesty and ethical behavior as a foundation of the Christian life. In other words, Christians try to live the example through observing and applying God's Commandments. This means complete truth in all things. It also incorporates the idea of treating others as you want them to treat you.

For Christian business people, these truths are not just some nice sounding words, but are to be lived out in our daily behavior and actions. Do all Christians set this example in their business life? Sadly, many do not. They become lost in the lure of achieving success in their business while losing sight of the true meaning of honesty in business dealings. Honesty is more than something we talk about on Sunday when we are in church but is a reality that must be lived out in our daily life regardless of where we are.

Most have good intentions; they do not set out to cheat or lie in order to gain an economic advantage. As long as they stay within the bounds of the legal limits, many feel they are being honest. It is okay to exaggerate or mislead if you do not actually lie. It is ok to hide consumer information in fine print that no one reads.

But this is the standard set by the world and our society. Honesty in business dealings means exactly that. When a person reads sales materials, the expectation should be that the claims are truthful, not exaggerated and that the business will provide the promised product or service just as described. A Christian businessperson aspires to higher standards. He knows that he has a responsibility to his customers to treat them fairly and as he himself would expect to be treated. Anything less is dishonesty by Christ's standards.

A Christian's word is his bond. As a Christian businessperson, your word is your bond. Sales materials and all advertising claims are a direct and concrete form of your word. As an honest businessperson, you cannot ignore true honest behavior in any aspect of your daily and business life. There is no substitute for the truth, and there is never a justification for bending the truth or for "little white lies." Remember that hiding the truth through omission is the same as a direct lie. Little white lies do not stay "little" very long and can lead to disaster in your personal or business life.

Honest dealings in business include many things such as offering a good product or service at a fair price. You must strive to offer value to the customer for their hard earned money. You have an obligation beyond what the law requires to care for and pay your employees in a fair manner. You must always put the customer first.

Is this always easy, or the least expensive way to conduct business? No, but as a Christian, this is the "only" way to do business.

As Paul wrote in his letter to the churches in Galatia:

Galatians 1:10 (NIV)
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
So what is the honest way to conduct business? It is really quite simple:

* Apply sound and proven Christian principles in your relationships with customers and your employees.
* Give value for money spent
* Meet all promised warranties and guarantees
* Be truthful in advertising and promotions
* Always tell the truth
* Treat others as you would like to be treated

Will this assure business success and earning a fortune? No, not by themselves. But being a Christian and living as a Christian is the true path to success in life or business, As a true Christian, this is your only option.

Jan Wallen is the owner of a site dedicated to helping Christian business people conduct their businesses based on Christian principles. Her free bi-monthly newsletter, the Straight Paths Ezine, is filled with sensible, practical advice to help you in the work place. Subscriptions are available by visiting her website or you may send a blank e-mail to

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