Lest the accusation be raised, because of the lines which we wrote in this rubric of In His Fearlast time, that we are partial to management and not filled with enough concern for the employee and his needs and rights, let it be stated that we purpose to be partial neither to the employer nor to the employee. Our only concern in these lines, both last time and now, is expressed by the question, “What saith the Scripture?” Our concern is, “What is in His fear?” That is all that counts. And Holy Writ will have to tell us what right we actually have and what rights we only assume. The Word of God must point out to us what action we may take when our rights are trampled upon and we are abused by men.
Even if we would have to be a traitor—because we also stand in the category of employee and not employer—as far as man’s judgment of us is concerned, we must be loyal to the Word of God and bear all of our trials in His fear. The natural inclination of an employee is to take the side of the employee and not of the employer in today’s struggle between capital and labor, management and help, master and servant. But it is the spiritual reaction that counts. The carnal mind or natural mind remember, is enmity against God, is not subject to the law of God and cannot be. We must always restrain ourselves, therefore, and walk according to the leading of the Spirit; He gives us in our hearts God’s Word as a lamp for our feet in every situation and a light upon our path in all the darkness of this world of sin in which we have been placed to be witnesses and servants of the living God.
It cannot be denied that through the ages the employer generally has been the one whom any impartial mediation board would have found guilty, and whose practices the Word of God condemns in no uncertain terms. James could cry out in his day, “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasures together for the last day. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.” And centuries before this God Himself gave warning through the mouth of Moses and unto Moses, “Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee.” Unjust wages and unmerciful treatment are not inventions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, even though they have through the ages come to their culmination in the end of the ages, as is the case with all sins. Let’s face it! The employers through the ages set the stage, gave the occasion and initiated the action that enabled the labor unions to appear and to gain such tremendous power. There always has been greed on the part of the laboring man, indeed. But management and the master have never been devoid of it either. And we do not mean to, say that, if the employers through the ages had paid decent wages, been concerned with the working conditions of their employees, there would be no unions, no union constitutions with strike clauses and no lockouts, boycotts and the like. But what we do say is that the employer so often steals the goods of the neighbor who works for him, even when that neighbor serves very faithfully and at times at the risk of his life, and without complaint. The employer so often is the sinner!
We might just as well face the fact as well that there is no hope for the whole tragic situation. Unionism is not the answer. Disbanding all the unions and taking away all fear of strike will not solve the problem. Government control of both employer and employee will solve nothing. There simply is no hope in this world even though dreamers and church men philosophize and antichristian promises are made and hopes expressed. Management simply hikes the price of its commodity to regain the amount it must now give in wages. And the help that gets a few more pennies in its pocket has to give them up in greater measure for the same item that, before the strike days, he reluctantly bought with fewer of his coins. And so another strike is called. Neither side loves the other. Neither side will give in, for both are moved by greed. Both are seeking the things here below and have their affections set on these matters; and are simply going to GO OUT AND GET THEM! By legal means or illegal, by a spirit that declares that might makes right, neighbor is after the goods of the neighbor!
But in the midst of all this despair and hopeless picture as far as the natural man is concerned, there is a directive for the church. My brethren, these things ought not so to be! There ought not be any strike either against the brother in Christ before whom we work or against the unbelieving master who defrauds us by unjust wages, and keeps back what we could expect to receive, and for which we labored. And the believing employer ought not to keep one penny of that wages which his employee-be he a brother in Christ or an out-and-out unbeliever of the world -has coming to him because of labour performed. For, although the Church has no “social gospel” the Church has the Word of God to preach and practice, which gives principles to guide all the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven in their earthly life. And one, of them is that beautiful, so-called Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12. Here is something positive. Here is a rule that will guide every employer and every employee.
Let the man who hires for a definite wage ask himself, “Would I do it for that amount of money?” “Would I, had I done the job, have considered that amount of wages fair?” “Had such meager pay been given to my son, my daughter, for that amount of toil and grief, would I be satisfied that they were not taken advantage of and that time and toil had not been stolen from them?” “Or would I consider it my duty to go and talk with that employer about his shameful conduct?” It is quite easy to “see” the mote in the employer’s eye, when you are not that employer, but fail to see the beam in your own eye as employer. We may not measure with two rods. And if we stand in that enviable position where we are not in need of being bossed and- employed by others for our daily needs but instead hire men to work for us, then the wages that we pay them must be not ONE penny less than the amount for which we would be willing to do the same work. Would we work for what the government lists as the minimum wage for that kind of labor? And the very fact that the government finds it necessary to set a minimum wage indicates how widely this Golden Rule is ignored. But is it so among us that the family man struggling to keep his chin above the water with the constant rise in the cost of living has to come, almost on his knees before us, begging for a few more pennies in his pay check, when we ourselves would never work for that little sum of money? That the unbelieving employer is unconcerned with the needs of his employees is to be understood; but should not a believer be the best of all employers? My brethren, should not those in the church be the first to volunteer to raise the wages as the cost of living rises and rises?
And, of course, the rod measures both ways. Whether you begin at the one end of the rule or yardstick or at the other, they still measure just exactly the same distance. Where ought we to find the best employee? And let the employee then also ask himself, “If I were boss, would I pay that kind of money for the kind of work that I perform?” What is more, in the very same passage where James rebukes the rich who oppress and DO keep back the wages and steal from their employees, he counsels these oppressed ones, not to go on strike and to take things in their own hands to steal from the employer by destroying his business, but to be patient unto the coming of the Lord.
Always it is with an eye to the coming of Christ that the child of God endures his afflictions and abuses at the hands of the ungodly. He refuses to sin against the one sinning against himself. He knows that if he is not rich toward God, then with all his gold and silver he still is a poor fool! For riches consisteth not in the abundance of things. And the riches of the kingdom of heaven are so infinitely great and precious that all the material is not worthy to be compared with it. These riches, moreover, are never obtained in the way of revenge, retaliation, violence and coercion against those who wrongfully treat us. They are obtained in the way of patience. For we obtain them from Christ in His day. And. He sees and knows. Our cry does reach His ears; and as the Lord of Hosts He will come with power to right every wrong and to bring us where we can everlastingly enjoy the righting of that wrong. What is it worth to take things in our hands to try to right a wrong among men and enjoy for a few days or months some little carnal advantage? Nay, Wait for The Master Who will give wages to all men at His coming; And then we can enjoy without end a reward of bliss and glory that no man can take from us.
In His fear let us DO unto others as we would have them do unto us, whether we are employers or employees. Then we will not steal from each other but give unto each other and enjoy presently as well as now that it IS more blessed to give than to receive.