Prayer, Ethics, And Business
OVER the last few years the news media have been busy reporting various ethical lapses both in business and government. While we all may know such behavior is wrong, resisting the temptation to do such things is not always easy. I have had to face this challenge myself and found that prayer is one of the best ways to overcome such temptations. At one time, I was responsible for contracting for certain production services for a company. Often there was heavy competition among contractors bidding on the jobs. As the one who would be working with these people, I had to decide who would get various jobs. Contractors knew this and soon made efforts to get my attention, some in questionable ways. Most were honest, but one in particular used a different tactic.
This company offered me an all-expenses-paid trip in relation to their bid. I have to admit that I was tempted. But I knew that before I made any decision, I had to pray earnestly for God's guidance.
As I prayed, it didn't take long for me to remember Christ Jesus' statement ``No 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.''1 To me, this meant that I could choose to serve my own material wishes and take advantage of the ``free'' trip. Or I could serve God by doing the morally right thing.
I realized that because man is in truth the child of God, he is actually spiritual. So to accept the material -- mammon -- and serve it, would be to deny my own spiritual nature. I also realized how much my work depended on mutual respect and integrity. To accept this trip would have suggested to the other contractors that I could be ``bought.'' This would have undercut my whole relationship with these contractors.
Having decided to stick with the ethical, I found it easy to see who should get the contract. And things worked out so that our company's relationship with all the bidders continued to be honest and beneficial.
A major lesson from this experience is that God's law is a protection, not a restriction. This isn't just a protection from a jail sentence! To side with God is to recognize and accept who we truly are. This opens up new opportunities as we learn to trust God's guidance and to know that He is sending only good to us. Resting on this spiritual basis, we have the strength to overcome temptations. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Honesty is spiritual power. Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help.''2
One of the names for God that is explained in Science and Health is ``divine Principle.'' God, divine Principle, is the basis of all law, and His law is spiritual. This law is the foundation for all morality, all truth, all honesty, because its source is divine.
Sometimes, in the heat of our work, it may seem hard to make time to seek God's will. But experience has proved that such prayer prevents mistakes and enables us to do right by all people.
Our relationship to God, Spirit, is both spiritual and unbreakable. Because it relates to what we are -- rather than where we work -- it is with us wherever we go. And it is well worth cultivating.
1Matthew 6:24. 2Science and Health, p. 453.