– June 9, 2020 –
Our community has been deeply shaken by the horrific death of George Floyd in the hands of the police. The subsequent events have rocked the world, and serve as a reminder of a deeper injustice in our world that extends into areas of economic opportunity in our workplaces. The Bible speaks clearly to issues of fairness and justice. Here are three examples from the Scripture along with statements from the Theology of Work Commentary (www.theologyofwork.org) that show the application to our workplaces.
“You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:15-16
The TOW Bible Commentary understands this to mean that
“Leaders in workplaces must often act in the role of an arbiter. Workers may witness an injustice in the workplace and legitimately question whether or not it is appropriate to get involved. Leviticus claims that proactively standing in favor of the mistreated is an essential element of belonging to God’s holy people.”
We are likely familiar with the story of “The Good Samaritan” in Luke 10:25-37. A man who had been beaten and robbed was ignored by the leaders of the society. Yet a Samaritan, one of the outcasts of the society, was the one to care for the person. Jesus uses this story to help us understand who our neighbor is. The text says,
“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ ‘Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed mercy on him.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” Luke 10:33-37.
The TOW commentary notes,
“A feature of the story that would have surprised Jesus’ listeners is the ethnicity of the hero, a Samaritan. Jesus’ people, the Jews, considered Samaritans ethnically and religiously inferior. Yet the Samaritan is more attuned to the Law of Moses than the Jewish religious leaders who pass by on the other side of the road. His presence in Jewish territory is not a danger to be feared, but a saving grace to be welcomed.”
- “At work we have many chances to be neighbors with co-workers, customers and others across ethnic or cultural divides. Being a Good Samaritan in the workplace means cultivating a specific awareness of the needs of the other. Are there people in your workplace who are being unfairly treated in some way? Sometimes specific ethnic groups are passed over for recognition or promotion. A conscientious Christian should be the one to say, ‘Are we giving this person a fair shake?’”
Finally, the prophet Micah states,
“He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
In speaking about the writing of Micah, the TOW commentary states:
“Justice in work is not only an individual matter. People have a responsibility to make sure that everyone in society has access to the resources needed to make a living…Justice is not merely a secular issue, as the prophets see it. Micah’s call for justice in 6:8 follows from an observation that justice is better than extravagant religious sacrifices (Mic. 6:6-7).”
We all need this reminder that justice is not something separate from our Christian lives, but integral to them. In seeking to integrate our faith with our work in business here at KIROS, we need to be reminded of the fundamental importance of being a part of fairness and justice in our workplaces. Even if we are not in charge in our workplace, Jesus would remind us of our individual responsibility: “You are the light of the world….Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father who is in heaven,” Matthew 5:14, 16.
Al Erisman, KIROS Board