There is an idea that if everyone just behaves as selfishly as possible, it will all work out in the end. I call this capitalism gone to seed. I think this idea, that bad intentions will ultimately result in good, is totally unworkable. It also contradicts the clear Christian imperative to put others before ourselves (Matthew 7:12; Philippians 2:1-11; Romans 13:8-10). But business is an important part of life and one most of us will be involved in. So how do we approach it?
Working is the normal way that we should earn our living and even gain extra so as to help others (2 Thessalonians 3:10; Ephesians 4:28; Proverbs 6:6-11). This does not mean we should not help those in need (James 2:15,16; 1 John 3:17; Proverbs 14:31), but working should be the normal way to make a living. Now work was part of God’s original plan (Genesis 2:15), though it became laborious as a result of the Fall (Genesis 3:17-19). I am convinced that even in eternity, we will have things to do, but without the curse that results from the Fall (Revelation 22:3). But in doing this we are not to allow unlimited scope to our greed. As workers we are to do our work well and honestly, as unto the Lord, even if we are at the very bottom of the social ladder (Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25; Titus 2:9,10). As employers we are to treat our employees well and pay them properly (Ephesians 6:9; Deuteronomy 24:14,15; James 5:1-6). We must also be careful how we treat our customers and the people we buy from and not try to cheat them (Amos 8:4-6; Leviticus 19:35,36; Proverbs 11:1).
Now I am not claiming there is some absolutely determinable price for things based on something like the price of salt, as they tried to do in the Middle Ages. But I do believe that we, as Christians, must attempt to deal as honestly as possible with the people we work for or the people who work for us or the people we buy from and sell to. This is something that is not always easy to determine. But we need to at least avoid obvious violations. We cannot simply goof off, waste our employers time, or refuse to follow proper instructions at work. Nor should employers give inconsistent or unrealistic instructions, deal with undeserved harshness, or try to cheat people out of their pay. And we should not undertake business transactions with the intent of cheating people. This is not always easy. We may end up scratching our heads over what the right thing to do is in a given situation. But we cannot simply ignore the issues and follow our own selfish desires.