Saturday, November 5, 2016

Conflict of Interest

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

-- Matthew 6:24

What comes to mind when you hear the term conflict of interest? Maybe it's a politician who sponsors legislation without revealing that he or she would gain financially from its passage. Or perhaps it's a prosecutor who's trying a case against a relative.

According to a paper published in the Electronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organizational Studies, such double-dealing extends well beyond the Washington Beltway and the courtroom. In fact, conflicts of interest are all around us--from investment banks to accounting firms to the Pentagon to the media. And it's a costly problem. For example, the consulting firm Marsh & McClennan once lost nearly $12 billion dollars in just a few days after New York's attorney general announced his investigation into the firm's alleged conflict of interest involving price fixing and collusion!

With so much at stake, what's evident Conflict of Interestis the importance of eliminating even the appearance of impropriety in politics, the legal system and the business world. But how about conflicts of interest involving something that's much more important: our spiritual life?

As Christ-followers, we've accepted God's invitation to meet our every need. That covers deeply intimate issues involving our significance, happiness, value and self-worth. And let's not forget our money and possessions. Deep down, too many of us depend on the size of our bank accounts, 401Ks and stock portfolios for security. We struggle for years to build our nest eggs. But even if we make it to the top by the world's standards, this supposed victory turns out to be a worthless idol that gains us nothing once we leave this life.

It's an ancient dilemma. We read in the Old Testament that King Solomon--once the richest and wisest man in the world--had his own problems with divided spiritual loyalties. Rather than depending on God and following his word, Solomon decided to pursue a life of pleasure by accumulating hundreds of wives and concubines. His other futile ventures involved possessions, knowledge and achievements. And what did Solomon learn after his time straying from his Creator?

"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."

How about you? Are there conflicts of interest when it comes to your relationships, money and possessions? The fact is that what we do with each paycheck and how we treat others are tests of how we use God's blessings. And as Jesus reminds us, we will one day be rewarded with the opportunity to manage many things. But first, we need to demonstrate that we're faithful with just a few. 

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