“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, (5) so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;… if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently;…” (Romans 12:4-6,8a)NIV [Note B – or “to provide for others”]
Last week’s Labour Day marked coming out of the hot summer of 2017 with its opportunities to sit, reflect and enjoy a different rhythm of life. It also marked our re-entry into the rush of business, schooling and more appointments than we have time for. During this transition, it is important to be reminded of something. It is the Big “Why?”. Why do we do what we do? Why are we so passionate about entrepreneurial opportunity, taking risks, running companies, inspiring and training employees? What is the big idea that drives it all? I imagine there is more than one answer, but let me propose what I think is the 30,000-foot-high view of the “Why?”.
It is because God calls Christian business leaders to do what they do, and are gifted by God to do it!
Gifted to lay the foundation of another year in the Corpath community, another year of business. I would like to repeat a foundational meditation from a few years ago. It shows, that business leaders are listed among the spiritual gifts in Romans 12.
One of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12:8 has been translated in various ways over the years. The New International Version translates the gift as leadership with the above note that it could be “to provide for others”. The Revised Standard Version translates the same Greek phrase, “he who gives aid, with zeal.” Why this wide variance of interpretation?
When you see a verse being translated in different ways it usually means two things. First, the Greek term involved is rare and does not occur in the New Testament very often. Second, the cultural concept involved may not have a direct equivalent in our modern culture. Sure enough, in the case of Roman 12:8, the relevant word (proistamenos) occurs only a few times in the New Testament. So, what of the cultural difficulty? I believe this second gift of Romans 12:8 refers to the activity of what today we call business people. In the first century, they did not refer to business people as a grouping by that title. Rather, they described them by what they did. For example, Lydia the seller of purple cloth in Acts 16. Or Paul, who is sometimes described in Acts as a tent-maker. Therefore, if one wanted to refer to this class of people generically as a group in the first century, you might say, “those who provide for others.” That is, by selling them purple cloth, or food, or by making tents for them. This suggestion is supported by another New Testament occurrence of (proistamenos) in Titus 3:14 where it is translated, “…those who may provide for daily necessities.” Furthermore, this same term is translated in other ancient non-biblical Greek texts as “those who provide for others.”
Throughout this coming year, I encourage all Corpath members to rightly see their businesses as a calling from God whereby they minister to employees, suppliers and customers.
The Big “Why?” is this … if you lead a business and provide the necessities of life for employees and others, you are mentioned in Paul’s lists of gifts given to the Church. You are an essential part of God’s Kingdom economy. As you follow your giftedness, as you provide wealth for employees, customers, government and non-profit caring activities, do so in the knowledge that you follow a high calling from God that is essential to His plan for humanity.
As you engage in business, do so with diligence and with confidence that you are following your God given giftedness and calling. THAT is the Big “Why?”.
© John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca