Philanthropy: God’s Purposes for Business – Part IV

After profits (Purposes #3) are created, what do we do with them? We believe that the thrust of the Biblical teaching would lead to this fourth purpose:

Business exists to help the poor fully participate in the community with dignity through philanthropic giving.

When a business creates profit, that profit will need to be put to work. The most common way to put profits to work is to invest in the business through expansion activities, such as starting another product line, acquiring another company or improving processes that lower overhead costs. The conventional thinking is that profits are usually reinvested into the business to increase net revenue and net profits.

But God has a different – and better – plan.  As Christian Business Owners, we’re commanded to give away a portion of our profits.  I’m not talking, necessarily, about a tithe, but rather joyful giving of that which God has given to us.  In many instances, the giving will be well above a 10% tithe.

Proverbs 3.9-10 says this:

9 Honor the LORD with your wealth,
with the first-fruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

When we give away a portion of our profits, we honor the Lord and He, in turn, promises to make us even more financially successful.  Now, lest you think we’re prosperity gospel folks here, this passage needs to be balanced with other Scriptures that deal with suffering and death.  But the balancing of the passages doesn’t negate the command:  we are to give and give generously.

Consider Proverbs 3.27-28:

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you.

When your business is highly profitable, you have the means and ability to do good to those in your church and community.  If you already have the money, verse 28 says, you should give it away and not withhold it.

A portion of the profits, we believe, should be put to work within the community, helping the poor and enabling the community to flourish in one way or another. While this is similar to our first purpose for business, it is broader in scope and has as its’ focus the responsibility that businesses should give away some of their profits to help alleviate the poor.

In another post, we reference the Jewish tradition of Tzedekah, which has at its’ core both the concepts of charity and justice. Poverty is seen as a collective failure of society. Business exists, in part, to help society achieve the elimination of poverty – to achieve both charity and justice together.

Now, some might argue that by investing in growth strategies alone, that business can achieve this fourth purpose. We would disagree. Some social problems cannot be solved by strong, healthy businesses. One size does not fit all. Supporting the weak and elderly is one of many ways that businesses can give back to the community. When combined with the other five purposes, we learn that healthy businesses can bring a host of benefits to society and the church.