The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them. – Proverbs 11:3
Solomon gave sage advice to the reader in this proverb that related to matters of business ethics and accounting principles. In this passage he spoke of using honest weights and measures to conduct business because God hates dishonesty. Accordingly, in this verse, the author tells us that being a person of integrity will guide us in all we do while crooked people will be destroyed by their dishonesty.
Integrity is a personal thing that once destroyed is very hard to re-establish. Why? People usually lose trust in dishonest people and find it hard to forgive them for the harm they’ve done through lying and deceit and trickery. This can be seen in recent American history.
Let’s look an accounting example or two. When the height of the economic boom of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries occurred, there were accounting firms that began to cook the books in order to make themselves seem more profitable and worthy of investors lending them money. Kenneth Lay and Enron was one such firm that lied about its assets and liabilities and had its accounting firm distort their accounting records to present a false image of its worth and reliability to perform and make a profit.
Another example was seen in Bernie Madoff, who made off with billions of dollars from investors that bought into his Ponzi scheme expecting to get huge returns. Mr. Madoff is now serving prison time in a federal correction center because of illegal, immoral, and unethical accounting practices. He deceived people by telling them they’d receive large returns on their money for investing with him. However, he borrowed from “Peter” to pay “Paul” and kept floating money around and was never ever able to pay off his investors while he walked away with billions of dollars of their money!
From these two examples can we see and understand why God hates dishonest scales and teaches us that people who walk in integrity will be guided by their honesty?!? It’s not hard to understand and know the truth of God’s word even in our business practices, whether it’s our personal finances, church finances, or business finances. Integrity must guide in all our financial matters, especially when it reflects upon our Christian witness and ultimately upon the God of Heaven who gave us redemption and saved us from a hell where people of dishonesty and moral turpitude will end up without God’s forgiveness, mercy, grace, and a personal relationship with him.
For those who handle church accounting matters, it’s of the utmost importance that everything is kept on the up and up or legitimate basis. Why? Because people will lose confidence in the pastoral staff and the church as a whole when it’s found out that the books are cooked or there is ineptness in the handling of money given to the church. People are already negatively inclined toward giving to the house of God to expand his kingdom and full the missio Dei, will of God in the earth. So long as we can honestly open up the financial books and show people that their assets are being administered correctly, fairly, and accurately, then the congregation will put full faith and confidence in those delegated to handle and administer the accounting of the church. What a negative light that is cast on the Lord and his house when his children mishandled and misappropriated his funds entrusted to his children, who then give back to the Lord to see his will done and not that of people?!?
Let us be Jesus’ witness in the earth to fulfill the missio Dei by ensuring that not only is our spiritual life is in order, but we need to ensure that our physical house is in order including our finances. There is nothing more troubling to people that those who cannot handle money responsibly and ethically. Would you trust a banker who embezzled your investments? The same idea is expected of church leaders when it comes to money given to God via the local church and to be used for God’s glory!
Father, thank you for being the God of Creation and Lord over all the universe. Everything that is on earth belongs to you, including the money that you entrust to us as your stewards. You expect us to all things as though unto you regardless of what it is. This can be said of our financial actions (or transactions if you will) as much as any other part of our lives. Help us to be people of integrity who always do the right thing with all that is entrusted to us whether the souls of people in discipleship or the funds/assets used to reach those souls. Forgive us for mishandling your assets and creating liabilities financially and spiritually when the resources of the local assembly are abused. This cast a negative light on you and us your family to the point that many people don’t want anything to do with you or the church when monetary matters arise. I love you and want to walk in your righteousness and be one who rightfully handles all assets you entrust to me. Your will be done, not mine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.