At Work & Theology 101

Understanding Truth at Work Through Scripture

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Editor’s note: Russell Gehrlein was a special guest on the syndicated radio program The Plumb Line, hosted by Jay Rudolph, on Monday, June 17. Russell and Jay discussed the importance of truth-telling in work and life. Below is a partial transcript of their conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity. Listen to part one of this conversation here and the final part here

Truth-Telling Struggles & Rewards

JR: I want to start basic by saying that truth-telling is the norm in the Bible, but it also certainly should be the norm in the workplace. That is common sense, you would think.

RG: It’s not always common sense. Especially in the world, with the values that are contrary to what Scripture tells us. We struggle with temptation, [especially when we see] other people succeed because they don’t tell the truth. So, Christians out there in the workplace struggle with that and say, “I want to get some of that too.”

God is the truth by nature. We should want to emulate Christ in everything that we do. Yet we struggle.

JR: I was just thinking about those occupations that we typically hear about where there is a lack of truth-telling. And I almost hate to mention some of these…car salesmen, telemarketers, lawyers, real estate agents, and politicians.

That really gives an amazing opportunity to those who are genuine followers of Christ within those vocations to stand out against what has sadly become the norm in their occupation.

RG: Wow, that’s a brilliant observation.

Sometimes people get rewarded for doing the wrong thing. But God always blesses us when we obey him.

Truth-Telling in Scripture

JR: Our standard, our foundation here, should be truth-telling. And the Scriptures make clear that honesty and telling the truth is what God expects of us as his followers.

RG: Absolutely. It’s one of the things that is clear throughout Scripture, including in the Old Testament. I think about the book of Proverbs…it talks about the “narrow road” and choosing to walk with wise friends, not friends that lead us into trouble and going the wrong way.

In the book of James, it talks about doing the right thing. And of course, in the gospels, Jesus lays out the kingdom of God, a kingdom where he’s king and we’re the subjects. And there are important values here that the world does not hold, like love, truth, and faithfulness.

As new creatures in Christ, we’re in the process of becoming like Jesus. And Jesus said he is the truth, and everything we do in the workplace needs to reflect that.

Truth-Telling is Good Business

JR: There’s a Scripture in Proverbs 12:19 that says, “truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” This one seems like it would have a good application to the workplace.

It is not a good situation if you think you’re going to profit for a moment by telling a lie. The long-term consequence is not good.

RG: I think you can develop a reputation, being known as someone who lies, cheats, and steals. You’re not going to be successful in the long run.

I think the reason this wisdom is so prevalent throughout Scripture is because this is not just good business for Old Testament civilization and the kingdom of God, but this is good business everywhere. And honestly, I think every civilization around the world, regardless of the influence of the Bible and Christianity, probably has these same values.

We’re all made in the image of God. God is good. God is true. God is truthful. So, that is the default setting for human beings. Even though we do tend to be tempted and lie for short-term gains, everybody knows being honest is the right thing to do.

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