a. How does Satan often pervert the heart and the mouth of people who want to take unfair advantage in business transactions? Jeremiah 6:13; Acts 5:3, 4.
b. How earnestly did David and Solomon both aspire to freedom from deceptive lips? Psalm 101:7; Proverbs 30:8 (first part).
c. As Christian stewards must often be in contact with deceitful people, what prayer should ascend to Heaven? Psalm 43:1 (last part).
d. How does God often permit a deceitful person to be the victim of his or her own tricks? Psalm 7:14–16.
a. Describe the depth of evil that occurs when we injure the reputation of others—and how God sees it. Proverbs 6:12–19.
“We think with horror of the cannibal who feasts on the still warm and trembling flesh of his victim; but are the results of even this practice more terrible than are the agony and ruin caused by misrepresenting motive, blackening reputation, dissecting character? . . .
“The spirit of gossip and talebearing is one of Satan’s special agencies to sow discord and strife, to separate friends, and to undermine the faith of many in the truthfulness of our positions.
“It is natural for human beings to speak sharp words. Those who yield to this inclination open the door for Satan to enter their hearts and to make them quick to remember the mistakes and errors of others. Their failings are dwelt upon, their deficiencies noted, and words are spoken that cause a lack of confidence in one who is doing his best to fulfill his duty as a laborer together with God. Often the seeds of distrust are sown because one thinks that he ought to have been favored but was not.”—The Adventist Home, pp. 440, 441.
b. How does the Lord consider those who are dishonest in their financial transactions? Deuteronomy 27:17–19; Proverbs 11:1; 20:23.
“The accounts of every business, the details of every transaction, pass the scrutiny of unseen auditors, agents of Him who never compromises with injustice, never overlooks evil, never palliates wrong. . . .
“Against every evildoer God’s law utters condemnation. He may disregard that voice, he may seek to drown its warning, but in vain. It follows him. It makes itself heard. It destroys his peace. If unheeded, it pursues him to the grave. It bears witness against him at the judgment. A quenchless fire, it consumes at last soul and body.”—Education, pp. 144, 145.
c. What will happen to anything that is acquired dishonestly? Proverbs 13:11; 15:27; 21:6.
“No scheme of business or plan of life can be sound or complete that embraces only the brief years of this present life and makes no provision for the unending future.”—Ibid., p. 145.
a. How are we warned to avoid partiality in our dealing with others? Leviticus 19:15.
“Do not show partiality to one or more, and neglect other of your brethren because they are not congenial to you. Beware lest you deal harshly with those who you think have made mistakes, while others, more guilty and more deserving of reproof, who should be severely rebuked for their unChristlike conduct, are sustained and treated as friends.”—The Review and Herald, March 12, 1895.
“Each one is to stand in his lot and in his place, doing his work. Every individual among you must before God do a work for these last days that is great and sacred and grand. Every one must bear his weight of responsibility. . . . No one of you needs to be afraid of the other, lest the other shall have the highest place. Without partiality and without hypocrisy each is to be treated.”—Christian Leadership, p. 39.
b. What does the Christian steward do when dealing with disadvantaged groups? Psalm 82:2–4.
“God requires that His people should not allow the poor and afflicted to be oppressed. If they break every yoke and release the oppressed, and are unselfish and kindly considerate of the needy, then shall the blessings promised be theirs. If there are those in the church who would cause the blind to stumble, they should be brought to justice; for God has made us guardians of the blind, the afflicted, the widows, and the fatherless. The stumbling block referred to in the word of God does not mean a block of wood placed before the feet of the blind to cause him to stumble, but it means much more than this. It means any course that may be pursued to injure the influence of their blind brother, to work against his interest, or to hinder his prosperity.
“A brother who is blind and poor and diseased, and who is making every exertion to help himself that he may not be dependent, should be encouraged by his brethren in every way possible. But those who profess to be his brethren, who have the use of all their faculties, who are not dependent, but who so far forget their duty to the blind as to perplex and distress and hedge up his way, are doing a work which will require repentance and restoration before God will accept their prayers. And the church of God who have permitted their unfortunate brother to be wronged will be guilty of sin until they do all in their power to have the wrong righted.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp. 519, 520.
4. AVOIDING BAD COMPANY
a. While the Lord is our great Counselor, from whom may we seek counsel on this earth? Proverbs 13:20.
“The only safe course for the youth is to mingle with the pure, the holy, and thus natural tendencies to evil will be held in check. By choosing for their companions such as fear the Lord, they will seldom be found disbelieving God’s Word, entertaining doubts and infidelity. The power of a truly consistent example is very great for good.”—In Heavenly Places, p. 172.
b. What must we consider regarding persons not in harmony with the principles of Christian stewardship? Proverbs 14:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:6.
“Let the youth choose the influence of, and become associated with, men and women of bad principles and practices, . . . and they are polluted. Silent and unconscious influences weave their sentiments into their lives, become a part of their very existence, and they walk on the very brink of a precipice and sense no danger. They learn to love the words of the smooth tongued, the honeyed words of the deceiver, and are restless, uneasy, and unhappy unless they are carried to the pinnacle of someone’s flattery. . . . To walk in the counsel of the ungodly is the first step toward standing in the place of sinners and sitting in the seat of the scornful.”—Ibid.
“It is wrong for Christians to associate with those whose morals are loose. An intimate, daily intercourse which occupies time without contributing in any degree to the strength of the intellect or morals is dangerous. If the moral atmosphere surrounding persons is not pure and sanctified, but is tainted with corruption, those who breathe this atmosphere will find that it operates almost insensibly upon the intellect and heart to poison and to ruin. It is dangerous to be conversant with those whose minds naturally take a low level. Gradually and imperceptibly those who are naturally conscientious and love purity will come to the same level and partake of and sympathize with the imbecility and moral barrenness with which they are so constantly brought in contact.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 125.
5. THE FUTILITY OF ACQUIRING RICHES
a. How much of our earthly riches do we retain when we die? Psalm 49:16, 17; Ecclesiastes 5:13–15; 1 Timothy 6:7.
b. What can we take with us to the great judgment of humanity? Matthew 16:26; Proverbs 11:4; Isaiah 31:7.
“The redeemed will be welcomed to the home that Jesus is preparing for them. There their companions will not be the vile of earth, liars, idolaters, the impure, and unbelieving; but they will associate with those who have overcome Satan and through divine grace have formed perfect characters. Every sinful tendency, every imperfection, that afflicts them here has been removed by the blood of Christ, and the excellence and brightness of His glory, far exceeding the brightness of the sun, is imparted to them. And the moral beauty, the perfection of His character, shines through them, in worth far exceeding this outward splendor. They are without fault before the great white throne, sharing the dignity and the privileges of the angels.
“In view of the glorious inheritance that may be his, ‘what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ (Matthew 16:26). He may be poor, yet he possesses in himself a wealth and dignity that the world could never bestow. The soul redeemed and cleansed from sin, with all its noble powers dedicated to the service of God, is of surpassing worth; and there is joy in heaven in the presence of God and the holy angels over one soul redeemed, a joy that is expressed in songs of holy triumph.”—Steps to Christ, p. 126.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What are the results of deceptive communication?
2. How does dishonesty affect the one who deceives?
3. How do Christian stewards treat others in their financial dealings?
4. Who is the Christian steward’s financial counselor?
5. What should remind us of the temporal nature of material wealth?