We should not take advantage of others in conducting business just because they may allow us to do so. There may be a variety of reasons why people may make special offers to us during our lives and we must use discernment to understand when it is right and good to accept a gift and when better to graciously refuse an offer.
The most obvious scenarios involve bribes or services that people offer to get special favors in return from us do to some position or influence we may have. This type of behavior is not proper, but unfortunately very common in our government, business, and politics.
Genesis 23 provides insight into one such matter in the life of Abraham as he seeks to bury his wife, Sarah.
1Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. 3Then Abraham rose from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, 4“I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burial site among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” 5The sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, 6“Hear us, my lord, you are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our graves; none of us will refuse you his grave for burying your dead.” 7So Abraham rose and bowed to the people of the land, the sons of Heth. 8And he spoke with them, saying, “If it is your wish for me to bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and approach Ephron the son of Zohar for me, 9that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he owns, which is at the end of his field; for the full price let him give it to me in your presence for a burial site.” 10Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the sons of Heth; even of all who went in at the gate of his city, saying, 11“No, my lord, hear me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the presence of the sons of my people I give it to you; bury your dead.” 12And Abraham bowed before the people of the land. 13He spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, “If you will only please listen to me; I will give the price of the field, accept it from me that I may bury my dead there.” 14Then Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him, 15“My lord, listen to me; a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between me and you? So bury your dead.” 16Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, commercial standard.
17So Ephron’s field, which was in Machpelah, which faced Mamre, the field and cave which was in it, and all the trees which were in the field, that were within all the confines of its border, were deeded over 18to Abraham for a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city. 19After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field at Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20So the field and the cave that is in it, were deeded over to Abraham for a burial site by the sons of Heth.
Abraham recognized that he was in a position of influence and financial strength and that those who offered him the land for free may have felt pressured to do so.
They may have felt obligated to do so out of fear of retribution or condemnation, or to gain favor for future “favors” from Abraham, or just out reacting to a quick decision based on sympathy. Abraham was wealthy and not all of the men he was discussing this purchase of land with were wealthy. Their decision in a moment may have been damaging to their finances. Perhaps Abraham just wanted to avoid even the appearance of impropriety to maintain his good name.
Abraham paid full price. He did not even accept a discount. Under different circumstances, he may have negotiated and received a better price, but he was content without negotiating or accepting favors in this scenario.
We can strive to follow Abraham’s example in our business. We can conduct business with others, considering what may help them as well as what is good for us. It should be our goal to conduct business fairly for all involved rather than to take advantage of people for maximum personal gain. We should treat those we do business with as people God loves. Our behavior and attitudes should differentiate us clearly from those who do not follow God, even if it costs us money.
Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .