August 10, 2007

What Will We Gain?

Genesis 37:23-28

Judas Iscariot ... asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" Matthew 26:14-15


Ten brothers are having a lunch meeting. Joseph, their despised younger brother, is lying at the bottom of a nearby cistern where they have thrown him. The brothers no longer hear Joseph's cries for help. It's dry season, so there is no moisture in the cistern, and Joseph's voice has given out. The brothers intend to let Joseph die.

Then a business opportunity arises: a chance to make a profit while also disposing of their hated brother. For twenty silver coins, they can sell Joseph into slavery. Then one of the older brothers, Judah, concocts a further "humanitarian" motivation to take the money: rather than be directly guilty for Joseph's death, they will let slavery in Egypt kill him. "After all," says Judah, "he is our brother, our own flesh and blood."

Not every business lunch features a conversation so chillingly disturbing. All too often, though, "the bottom line is the bottom line." Maximizing profits often becomes the overriding objective. Respect for people (outside of management and stockholders) can be so far in the background that it is no longer important. People become mere business opportunities--just dollar signs.

Jesus, whom Judas betrayed for thirty silver coins, put even the highest financial profit into perspective: "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36).

Father God, help those of us who are business people and managers and employers--as well as all the rest of us--to treat those around us as your children, made in your image. Amen.

About the author — Fred Bultman

Fred Bultman began a “second career” as a pastor in 1997, after a first career in the banking business.  He served as pastor to congregations in the U.S. and Canada. In retirement, he continues to enjoy sharing in the ministry of the churches in and around his home in Fremont, Michigan.

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