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What are the ethics at your work?

Before Jesus came on the scene, the prevailing ethic of the Israelites was that everything necessary to find favor with God lay in obedience to the Law – circumcision, diet, observing the Sabbath, etc. Jesus, however, threw a monkey wrench into that whole thought-system. He taught there was more to being the people of God than simply obeying the letter of the Law. Loving God and one another is what it’s all about.

How often do we get caught up in a mind-set similar to that of the Israelites when it comes to our work life? We believe if we follow civil law, we’re being ethical. But perhaps Jesus is challenging us, as He did the Israelites, to take the next step. Ethics are rooted in our treatment of others. Are we truly honoring God and one another at work?

Over the past few months, I’ve met with several groups to talk about work concerns. When addressing ethical issues, we talked about obvious unethical behavior such as lying and stealing. Yet, interestingly, the bulk of the ethical topics we discussed had to do with our relationships with other people and with God.

The following were considered unethical:

• Taking too much time away from family, and expecting others to do the same

• Instilling fear in others – threats

• Focusing on short term gain at the expense of others

• Gossip, rudeness, bad attitudes, pettiness

• Concocting a justification for firing someone

• Not making decisions or taking action based on faith

The problem is that we feel justified doing almost anything to protect our businesses or jobs. But does that attitude build the kingdom of God? Jesus says, “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:20) Until we follow His words, we cannot achieve an ethical workplace in which we truly honor God and one another.