... a weekly letter of encouragement.
31 December 1997 - Singapore
HOW TO DEAL WITH THE BRIBERY ISSUE: +
In many quarters of the world the offering or receiving of bribes is an integral aspect of business. Because the Scriptures clearly condemn the practice, what is a follower of Jesus Christ to do?
"Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous." (Ex.23:8) [See also Deut. 16:19; 2Chron.19:7; Psalms 15:5; 26:10; Prov.17:23; Ecc.7:7; Amos 5:12]
According to Webster, a bribe is "money or favor given or promised to a person in a position of trust to influence his judgment or conduct."
Extortion, on the other hand is "...the act or crime of getting another's money or property through force, under color of office, fraud, forgery, intimidation, threat, blackmail, oppression or show of might."++ (See Lev.6:4; Psalm 62:10; Eccles. 7:7; Isaiah 33:15; Jeremiah 22:17; Ezekiel 18:18;22:12;22:29; Habakkuk 2:6)
While the Scriptures clearly condemn the practice of offering or soliciting a bribe, they are silent on the practice of paying money, or its equivalent (goods and services) when it is demanded. Jesus' instruction may be relevant here:
"If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back." (Luke 6:29b, 30)
Understanding the difference between transactional and variance bribes may prove helpful in working through this difficult issue:
- A transactional bribe is "a payment routinely rendered and usually impersonally made to a public official to secure or accelerate the performance of his prescribed function."* The payment is made not to violate a substantive norm but rather to assure the performance (with dispatch) of the official act or service that is available to the public. (Deut. 16:19,20; Amos 5:12, 13)
- A variance bribe, by contrast, is payment given where a norm has been varied, "not to facilitate or accelerate an act substantially in conformity with a norm, but rather to secure the suspension or non-application of a norm."** Clearly, this kind of bribe is wrong.
TO HELP YOU DETERMINE THE MORALITY OF A PARTICULAR COURSE OF ACTION, ASK YOURSELF:
(1) Is this action against the law of the land? (2) How does it fit with Jesus' pattern of life? (3) How
are other people affected? (4) What does my conscience tell me? (5) Which decision best expresses love? (6) Does this action fit in with God's larger purposes for me? (Rom.13:1; IJn.2:6; Rom.14:13; Acts 24:16; ICor. 16:14; 2 Tim.1:9)
My prayer is that you are having a great week!
+Appreciation to Dr. Richard Langston, Bribery and the Bible, Campus Crusade Asia Ltd.;++L. M. Peterson, "Extortion," - Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 2:452; *Michael W. Reisman, Folded Lies: Bribery, Crusades, and Reforms, 69;** Ibid.,75.
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- Phone: 337 6498; Fax: 336 9913
(c) Copyright 1996 Dwight Hill. Unlimited permission to copy or use is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
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