My favorite movie of all time is Pride and Prejudice, the six hour version is my preferred one to watch, but sometimes (when I need a quick fix) I will watch the shorter version. After the Bible, it is also my favorite book. Jane Austin is also my favorite author (well, after God, of course!) In the book and in the movie there is an exchange of words between Ms. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy that came into my heart today as I was praying. The two have just met and the romance has begun, through a series of introductions and not so polite exchanges they find themselves together at Netherfield Park, the country home of Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth only sees pride when she looks at Mr. Darcy and points out to him that this a great fault in others that she cannot forgive. The two of them get into a very tense discussion and Mr. Darcy replies to Ms. Bennett that he agrees that pride is a fault, but he also believes that “A good opinion once lost is lost forever.” Ms. Elizabeth, wanting to find even more fault with him cannot and concedes that he is correct. A good opinion once lost is lost forever. I love this statement. Not only is it true but it is packed full of some godly advice I really needed to hear.
Proverbs 22:1 tells us that “a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver and gold.” One thing I have learned over the years is that once people form an opinion about you, it is almost impossible to change it. No matter what you say or do, once a good opinion is lost it is lost forever. We see this truth every day in our society. Men and women doing good, being well respected in the community to have their names dragged through the mud because of sinful behaviors that have come to light. As a business owner and as a Christian it is my desire, my goal and my hope that no matter what happens, we can maintain a good name throughout the pet care community. But, unfortunately we can’t always please everyone. But, we can, as a Christian focused business seek to glorify God and uphold His name above all others.
Lately I have been trying to find a balance, a balance between owning and operating a business and being a Christian woman, the one I know He wants me to be. I find it gets hard to maintain godly integrity and Christian standards in the cut throat world of business today. But, I also know that if I want to see any success in our little neck of the woods, we must find that godly balance. Without it we will fail, not only as a business, but as Christians too.
“So whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 ESV
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 ESV
The business I am in is a service based business. We provide love and care for God’s creatures. Not only do we serve the pets, but we strive to serve the parents of those pets too. When I started this business years ago it was more of a ministry then it was a business. I earned some extra income for our family and I was able to help others and support others in the name of Christ. Over the years we have grown and God has greatly blessed us. But lately, it has been a struggle to find that balance between the world of business and the business of God. There is a desire in me sometimes to cut a corner here and compromise on this to save myself from looking bad, but then I remember that everything I do, even in business, is a direct reflection of who my God is.
Paul writes to us and tells us that in whatever we do we are to glorify God. We glorify God most when we are most like Him. God is not glorified by our words, because let’s be honest with one another- we talk a lot, but it doesn’t mean anything. How does that saying go- Talk is cheap but actions are priceless? Paul didn’t write in whatever we say, no, he tells us that it is in what we do that ultimately glorifies God; even those things that no one sees- even in those we glorify God- or not.
“God’s glory is displayed in his acts in our world. Because God is present in believers today, he is able to display his qualities in our lives and so to glorify himself in us.” (Richards Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, pg. 312, Regency, Zondervan, 1985) People will form an opinion of you and your business by the way you act in the world. Those same people will form an opinion of our God by the way we behave in the world as His representatives. God is displayed to the world around us through us; through our actions, our walks, our dealings with clients and customers. The opinion people will form about you will be because of what you do. Remember Paul did not say we glorify God by words, but instead by works.
He goes on to say that we are to not give offense and just as he tries to please everyone so should we. I do not think Paul is telling us to become people pleasers. I do not think that he is telling us to compromise our convictions, our beliefs and the word of God to make a buck. I do not think he is telling us to bend over backwards for people so that they can walk all over us. What I believe he is telling us is that instead of pushing people away from God by our ungodly behaviors or business dealings, we need to be drawing people to God by displaying His behaviors in all that we do. Paul wants us to endeavor to give others the best of who we are at all times. Not just some of the time, but all of the time. Not because we want their money or their business, but because through us their ideas and opinions of our God will be formed.
Our business is not just a business, it is a ministry. We endeavor to please our clients not for our sakes but for their sakes, for the ultimate purpose of pointing them to Jesus Christ. Christ did not come to this earth for His sake, He came for our sake. He did not come to fulfill His desires and His dreams, but to fulfill the desires of His Father’s heart. He came to point us to His cross, and the hope that we have salvation in Him. His behaviors, His actions, His deeds upon this earth give us the images we need to form an opinion of our God. It is through His work on the cross that our opinion of our God was formed and enabled us to see the love and the hope we have in Him.
What we do is not for our sakes, our glory or our riches. It is for the purpose of pointing people to Jesus Christ, the only One who can save their souls. People will form an opinion of you, either a good one or bad one, because of how you live your life for Christ. Let us take Paul’s advice today and strive to do all that we do for the glory of God, giving people a good opinion of who our God is. Living a right representation of His love to the world in everything we do. God is most glorified when we are most like Him. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Amen.