Wednesday, April 27, 2011

General Query 7 - The Business of Life

General Query 7. Business Responsibilities-Do you avoid such undue expansion of your business responsibilities as to endanger your personal integrity? Are you truthful and honest in your business transactions, punctual in fulfilling your promises, and prompt in the payment of your debts?

General Query 7 is easy to pass over.  We see the title – “Business Responsibilities” – and move on, thinking that it doesn’t apply to us because we are not involved in any kind of business.  The warning about undue expansion of business, being truthful and honest in business transactions, fulfilling promises and paying debts reinforces this impression.

But Query 7 is talking about more than behavior in business.  The behaviors it describes have to do with integrity, a commonly accepted basic testimony among friends.  Even though I may not be a businessperson, there is a business I am part of that demands integrity – the business of living with others.

Life in a family, community and world requires a basic level of integrity.  It is the mortar that holds relationships together, one-on-one and in a community.

The warnings in Query 7 about business practices apply to the way we conduct the business of living:

-“Undue expansion of business” is a warning against allowing activities to take over our lives to the detriment of relationships.  In an age of social networking it could be a warning against spending so much time interacting with people over networks and various media that we forget the importance of being a living presence with those close to us.

-Being truthful and honest  applies to much more than business transactions.  “Let your yes be yes and your no be no,” is a simple instruction from Jesus that applies to all of life.  Good communication depends on sharing words that are reliably true.  Unfortunately, we learn from an early age a variety of ways to “spin” our words in ways that are misleading or false.

-Fulfilling promises and paying debts promptly is more than just being fair and upright with others.  Fulfilling promises is one way we demonstrate love to those around us.  Healthy relationships are built on promises that are kept.  Paul reminds us,  “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).

Here is my revision of General Query 7:
The Business of Living  – Am I guarding against cluttering my life with things that keep me from being a caring and loving presence with those close to me?  Are my words reliably true?  Am I keeping promises and paying my debt of love to God and others?


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