Honest Pay for Honest Work

by Stan Mitchell
Of course you have probably heard this as, “Honest work for honest pay.” But it goes both ways, as James reminds us:
“Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence…” (James 5:4,5).
Bob had worked for a vending machine company for forty years. Forty years! And he felt his job was safe. There were disquieting signs, but he ignored them. His North Carolina company had built another factory in a southern state where the wages were lower.
But he was safe. Forty years of company loyalty stood for something, he felt. He even assisted in the packing up of machinery from his factory to be transported to the new site.
When he was laid off, he went to his house, curled up into the fetal position, and wept like a baby (Los Angeles Times, Sunday, November 26, 1995).
The question that this story raises transcends politics and economic principle. I’m not trying to make a point about either the Republicans or Democrats and their various policies (I suspect both will say whatever they think will get us to hire them again). I have just two questions:
1) Do my Christian convictions extend even into the way I conduct my business, and treat my employees?
2) Should there be a difference between the way a Christian and a non-Christian employer treats his workers?
The answer, in both cases, is “yes.”
James says that the wealthy should care about the position of the poor. If it is in their power, they should ensure fair wages and decent conditions. I don’t know that an employer is obliged not to fire a lazy or dishonest employee. And I think the owner of a business has the right to make a profit (he wouldn’t stay in business long if he didn’t!). But I do think the Christian should be the best employer on the block. He should ensure the children are cared for in case of injury or illness; he should compensate commitment with loyalty.
The Christian who is wealthy was given that wealth for a reason.
“Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver have corroded….”
And besides, there is the Great and Final External Audit to consider. The judge of all the earth might look less at your profit margin and a little more at your fairness.

One Reply to “Honest Pay for Honest Work”

  1. Dear brother Stan, An excellent article! I once was drawn into a mediation between two Christians on a labor and management arguement. My suggestion was that they both read and apply the principle found in Ephesians 6:5-9. Thank you for your wise and relivant words! Jack L. Openshaw

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