[forthright] Honest Pay for Honest Work

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2008 15:03:08 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

COLUMN: Reality Check

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

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

2) Should there be a difference between the way a
Christian and a non-Christian employer treats his

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.

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