How Should I Deal With Sin In My Workplace?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

How should a Christian deal with sin in the workplace?  Is it okay to tell your boss or your supervisor if there are unethical practices going on at work?  Should you be a whistleblower?  What if your boss or supervisor told you to do something unethical at work and if you didn’t do it you might lose your job?

Sin in the Workplace

This is a fallen world.  There is sin everywhere you look – even in churches.  How should a Christian deal with sin when they see it taking place in the workplace?  Many are cooking the books, others are practicing deceptive trading, exaggerating claims to make sales, and phishing schemes are everywhere.  If a believer is privy to these things, should they just tolerate them, look the other way, or just plain ignore them?  These are difficult issues to deal with.  When we look at the Bible, these are not gray areas but black and white – right and wrong.  What advice can we glean from the Bible regarding unethical practices at work and what God expects the worker to do?

How To Deal With Sin At Work

They can not compromise their biblical values at work even when the fear of losing their job is at stake.

Obedience over Prosperity

God is clear in Scriptures about what the child of God should do when they are told to do something that their conscience tells them is wrong or that they know is sin. They must stand their moral ground.  They can not compromise their biblical values at work even when the fear of losing their job is at stake.  God hates the practice of unethical business. In the ancient days and even in early American and European cultures, scales were often tipped in the favor of the seller.  This is clearly sin to God as He says in Proverbs 20:23, “Differing weights are an abomination to the LORD, And a false scale is not good.”

It may work out well for you if you tip the scales in your favor – at least for a time but truly the Proverb is correct that says, “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious” (Prov 9:17) but in the end, “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel” (Prov 20:17).

Worthy of their Wages

Another deceptive practice of employers is that of taking advantage of a worker by not paying them what their proper wages for what they have labored for.  Even farmers did not muzzle an ox while it treaded out the grain because this was seen as cruelty to animals (Duet 25:4).  How much more inhumane is it to do to humans?  I have seen this happen and heard of it happening all too often.  This too angers a Righteous God.  Listen to these warnings from God Almighty:

Deuteronomy 24:14Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is a brother Israelite or an alien living in one of your towns.”

Deuteronomy 24:15Pay him his wages each day before sunset, because he is poor and is counting on it. Otherwise he may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin.”

Leviticus 19:13Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him. “‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight.”

1 Tim 5:18For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

Matthew 10:10 and Luke 10:7take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.”

Even those who labor in the Lord for the church are not exempt as it says in 1 Corinthians 9:14 “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.“  God has provided statues and laws for those who were slave owners.  For those who hired laborers in the Old Testament there were laws given and these ethical principles are still applicable today. You may not be able to do anything about these types of sins by employers but you can turn to state or federal authorities for certain violations that endanger human life or violate the law.

Excessive greed by employers is breaking both the 8th Commandments – you will not steal- and the 10th Commandment – you will not covet.  Coveting is nearly the same thing as greed is and Greed is among those which are called the Seven Deadly Sins (Prov. 6:16-19).

The Fiery Furnace of Obedience

Workers (sometimes called slaves in the Bible) are commanded by God to obey their masters, which today would be a boss or supervisor (Rom 13) but when certain work practices conflict with what God teaches in the Bible, they must disobey their superior.  A worker must always do the right thing, even at the risk of losing their job.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did the right thing and did not bow down to a golden image created by King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3.  There may come a time when a person has to disobey their employer in order to do the right thing; even if they risk losing their jobs.  This is especially true when they are asked to do something that is clearly wrong or declared to be sin in the Bible.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego risked their lives by disobeying the king and not bowing down to an idol and they understood that the penalty for doing this was death ( See here for Fiery Furnace Bible lesson).  Likewise, a worker may understand that they might lose their job for disobeying a supervisor or boss if they refuse to do something that they have been asked to do which is obviously wrong.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were bold in their obedience to God, telling King Nebuchadnezzar that “we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Dan 3:16-18). Did they die in the fiery furnace?  No, because God was with them in their trial, “and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods” (Dan 3:23-25).  The lesson is clear: God is willing and able to deliver you from a fiery ordeal at work and will bless you for your obedience, even if you lose your job.  God will be with you like He was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace.  If you obey God, leave the consequences up to Him.  He will provide you with another job and perhaps even a better one!

Sin in the Workplace- Closing Thoughts

If there is sin in the workplace and it is endangering you or co-workers, then you are obligated to tell someone in authority.  First, try going to the person with the most authority at work, like the CEO or the Plant Manager or someone in a similar position of authority.  If this doesn’t work, you should tell someone from a city, state, or federal authority.  Likewise, if there are unethical practices at work, you should try to report this to higher ups in the company you work for.  If this doesn’t work and it is illegal, you can either look for another job or if your conscience tells you, report it to the authorities.  Just don’t participate in the illegal or unethical practices for fear of losing your job because then you will also be held responsible; to legal authorities and more importantly, to God!  You could be faced with steep fines or even imprisonment.  As for you, particularly if you are a Christian, you have no choice but to not practice illegal or unethical activities at work. You are obligated by God to be obedient to His commands.

Workers can steal from their employers too. This includes employees who stop working and then clock out later, having someone else clock you in before you get to work, talking excessively to co-workers, stealing paperclips, pencils, and other things.  Not giving your employer a proper day’s work for what they pay you is the same thing as stealing from them and God sees no difference in it.

There is no doubt going to be sin in the workplace like there is in every part of society but you do not have to participate in it or you don’t have to be silent where you feel reporting something is merited.  If you are not sure, talk to a counselor, to Human Resources (HR), to your supervisor, to someone higher up in the company, to a church leader, a trusted friend, or a pastor.  How you deal with sin in the workplace depends on the severity of it but deal with it you must.

If you liked this article, check out this other resource from gotquestions.org:

Is Working on Sunday A Sin?

Resources:

New International Bible (NIV)
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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