First of all vocations never conflict with one another. When they seem
to, the problem is not between the vocations. The problem is between
you and the vocations. For instance, a man can simultaneously wear
many hats in this life: baptized believer, husband, father, employee,
etc. Conflict occurs when family and/or Divine Service are
neglected for work, or family before Divine Service, etc. Anywhere
vocations touch we will mess them up with our dirty, sinful hands.
The root of these conflicts is our sinful nature, the flesh against
which the Holy Spirit is constantly waring against within the baptized
believer. We are selfish, self-centered, self-serving men and it is
this evil intent within us that creates angst for the baptized
believer in Christ, because the baptized believer is repentant of his
sin and being forgiven, desires to do better as the new man of faith.
So we join St. Paul in Romans 7 where he expresses his angst between
the sinner and saint that he is.
Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was
sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin
might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become
sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am
of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions.
For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I
do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now
it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know
that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the
desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I
do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep
on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it,
but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:13-20 ESV)
Concerning your particular problem here is my pastoral counsel: 1.)
there are more than two neighbors before you “Joe,” the customer, and
each’s families, including your own family. All must be considered in
what to do. Love for them is what motivates your actions.
2.) “Underbidding” is not necessarily sinful. You have a
responsibility to help the customer in his need by doing quality work
for the least amount of cost without compromising your responsibility
to care for your family. You also bid as low as you can so that the
customer can also receive your services without compromising his
responsibility to his family.
3.) If indeed “Joe” is cheating his customers, he is obtaining money
“in a way that only seems right.” His selfish ambition is motivating
his work, not love of the neighbor. This is damaging to both the
customer and “Joe.” It maybe necessary, out of love for your neighbor
“Joe” to underbid him so that he might be forced, by way of necessity,
to bid lower. Often the flesh and its desires need to experience the
fruit of what they have sown. Of course, the best way to love your
neighbor is to discuss with “Joe” his unethical practices. If he
refuses to hear you it would then be appropriate to do what I’ve
Healthy business competition is only healthy if no one is hurt in the
process, i.e. the customer and everyone’s family. The unseen neighbors
much be considered and put first before engaging in competition.
In the end, love determines what we do for our neighbors. We love as
we have first been loved by God. He laid down His glory and became the
perfect neighbor to all by laying down His life for all. By
remembering our baptism into Jesus, confessing our selfishness and
receiving Christ’s forgiveness, life and salvation, we are then able
to approach our various vocations without fear, knowing that we are
being faithful baptized believers loving our neighbors in the
forgiveness of our sins.
I hope this has been helpful.
Rev. Dustin L. Anderson, Pastor
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church