you make it plain you like people, it's hard for them to resist liking you back."
-Lois McMaster Bujold
Late one evening we came home from work and found ourselves locked out! We were staying
briefly in an older mobile home, in which only the sliding patio door worked. At night we
locked that door with a security rod. Now the rod was lying firmly in its track on the
inside, and we were outside! Half an hour later, we got in by boosting our slim
teen-age son through a small bathroom window.
But how had the rod gotten into the track? I couldnt imagine Id left
it standing so nearly straight up and down that it fell over and landed there.
The next day we were in the living room, and the rod was lying nearby on the carpet.
Suddenly our sons fluffy black-and-white cat, Pepper, picked the rod up in his
mouth, trotted over to the door, and dropped it neatly into the track! (A true
"copycat!") I could just hear him thinking, "These messy people! I
always have to clean up after them!"
During our six homeless years we and other friends repeatedly found ourselves
"locked out" from work. How? Many ways.
My career clearly showed ages effects.
My first two professional jobs came in my 20s and early
30s. Both times, employers contacted me to ask if Id work for
My next two positions (in my late 30s and early 40s) took
one application each.
By my mid-40s, getting a new job took a dozen tries.
In my 50s, after layoffs hit three-fourths of my plants
workers, I applied to 500 firms. Results? Three interviews. No job.
Even what should have been "automatic" interviews didnt
always happen. One ad called for a degree, but no experience. (I had the degree plus 8
years.) But the employer replied I didnt meet minimum requirements. Age was the only
I received one letter saying "yes, if we win the
contract." They didnt, but most letters like that only mean the company is
bidding on a contract. They must prove they have enough people to do the work. So they
advertise not to hire, but to collect resumes. If they do win, they keep
most of the people who already work there. Its honest, but discouraging to job
I needed work. We had bills to pay and food to buy. But I learned few
companies would consider anyone over 40.
Finally we got self-employment as traveling vendors in a major discount chain. Each
week my whole family and I drove to a new city in any of eight Western states, worked 50
to 70 hours, packed up, drove to the next scheduled town, and did it all over again.
(Once, upon arriving in Riverton, Wyoming, we learned that a one-digit computer error had
officially scheduled us for Charlotte, North Carolina.) We earned enough to slow the
growth of our debt, but not to reduce it or to afford an apartment.
So we worked "harder, smarter, and longer." We created new products, and
spent 5 to 6 days in most stores instead of 4. One year we won our companys
"national sales team of the year" award. But we could only earn money by
traveling, and all our traveling expenses had to come out of it. That made living very
difficult. We managed the money we had well, yet our debts continued to mushroom.
Many of my laid-off co-workers will never own homes again. Few will
ever return to the middle class, though nearly all now have some sort of work or are
retired. Fifteen years later, one engineer I knew cut grass at an Orlando theme park.
Another got a job teaching archery. After our traveling ended, I worked as an on-call
hospital guard and in a fast-food outlet.
Biblically, work began when God asked man to "tend and care
for" the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). It grew much more difficult after the
Fall (Gen. 3:17-19).
How should we love the "neighbors" we work for?
Os Hillman said "Our studies show 90 percent of Christians do not
feel theyve been adequately trained to apply Biblical faith in their work life.
"We are entering a new era in the church where workplace believers need to be trained
for ministry to their own mission field." ("TGIF," Today God is First,
Theres room for a whole series of books here! I hope this chapter helps lay their
Scripture teaches that both employers and employees should treat the
other as if he or she was Jesus.
"Tackle every task that comes along" (Eccl. 7:18).
"Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord
enthusiastically" (Rom. 12:11).
Also read: Prov. 10:26; Col. 3:17, 3:22-25.
1 Peter 2:18 tells us to respect our bosses "even if they are tough and
cruel." What kind of advice is that? Ill say this. Three of my toughest bosses,
two at Vandenberg AFB and one in Orlando, were also among my best. All three routinely
demanded the absolutely impossible, and castigated us severely (and publicly) when we fell
short. Many people couldnt work for them. Yet they were as lavish (and as open) with
their praise as with their criticism. They made us grow. They toughened us. And they gave
of themselves. They wanted loyalty, but gave it in return. They arranged new jobs for us
after their own projects ended. We became proud to work for them.
Could your companys methods could be improved? Do your best anyway. Youre
In the early 1900s, my grandfather toured a Chicago meat-packing plant. The guide
stopped the group at one window facing an empty room where mincemeat was mixed. Soon a
door on one side opened. A man entered with a wheelbarrow-full of one ingredient, and
dumped it directly on the concrete floor. More men with wheelbarrows followed, until all
the ingredients were heaped together in one huge pile.
Then several men entered wearing hip boots and carrying shovels. They waded into the
pile, stirring it thoroughly. Next they shovelled the mixed mincemeat back into the
wheelbarrows and paraded out a second door to the bottling room.
The tour group moved on to watch workers fill the mincemeat bottles and apply labels -
which read "Just Like Grandma Used to Make!"
"A faithful employee is as refreshing as a cool day in the hot
summertime" (Proverbs 25:13).
What are managers nightmares? They certainly include workers who
talk on cell-phones, send text messages at work, steal, call in sick to attend parties,
come to work drunk, high, or hung over; sleep on duty or dont show up at all.
But supervisors value dependable workers who report on time, work well
even when unsupervised, are honest, and are courteous to staff and customers.
"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we
give." Winston Churchill.
"You must not steal" (Exod. 20:15).
Employee theft is a common problem in businesses like fast
food. We often had times when money was missing, or when employees gave their friends food
free. There was often little doubt who was responsible, because most shortages happened on
the same employees shifts. Yet, until we got security cameras, it wasnt
One night a "closer" took several hundred
dollars and left a window open to make it look as if the money was stolen after she left.
(Under police questioning, she confessed. )
Another worker raised suspicions by always bringing pastries for the
crew on mornings after money had been short but never when it balanced!
But first prize for audacity went to a worker who openly boasted
shed stolen well over $1000 before being fired - then applied to be rehired at
Avoid "office politics."
"Never falsely accuse a man to his employer, lest he curse you
for your sin" (Prov. 30:10).
More Scriptures on work: Prov. 10:26; Eph. 6:5-8; Titus 2:9-10.
How should we love "neighbors" who work for us?
Both of my two youngest children, Bill and Yvette, have managed
fast-food outlets. Yvette was assigned a "problem" store. It was dirty and
smelly. Staff had a reputation for rudeness. Customers avoided it.
Within a year shed turned the location around. It was clean and
smelled inviting. Staff was friendly. Employee turnover was half the chains average.
Sales rose over 40%.
How did she do it? She explains, "For my owners, I had a duty to
be honest; and to make sure the store ran smoothly. I took care of day to day problems;
handled scheduling, ordering, and personnel.
"As a manager I was a "boss." But as a Christian, I
believed I should be a "shepherd" as well. I cared about my crew. I was a
teacher; a nurse when injuries needed patching; an ear to listen; a shoulder to cry on;
happy for them when things went well; proud of them when they succeeded."
Pay employees promptly.
"Pay him his wage each day before sunset, for since he is poor
he needs it right away; otherwise he may cry out to the Lord against you and it would be
counted as a sin against you." (Deut. 24:14-15)
One of our employers often let his Friday payroll slip till Saturday,
when banks in our town were closed and no one could deposit their checks till Monday
(sometimes Tuesday). No groceries those weekends! Two others, both with low wages, paid
once a month. Our money always seemed to run out about the 10th. Those last 20
days were long!
Also read: Isa. 58:6, Jer. 22:13, James 5:1, 4.
Value employees, and let them know it.
In 2004 my company named me its national "employee of the
year" for my work in our local hospital. With over 80,000 employees in 15 states and
Canada, that was a most unexpected honor.
But then the award fell through the cracks.
I was told of the choice in August. The public announcement was to be
made in September. It wasnt. October went by with no word. November came; still
The local office kept asking. Finally, they reached a key headquarters
employee who admitted frankly "I forgot."
But the company did an excellent job of making it right. In
December two highly placed officials drove 200 miles to our home, and, together with local
staff members, presented the award to my whole family. I liked and respected both men.
Meeting them persuaded me they did value me and my family. The memory lapse, which
wasnt theirs, became a humorous sidelight.
Provide for advancement.
I want to thank the aerospace/defense industry for helping me learn how
much I could do.
In 1980, when the pianist at our small San Diego church told me her
company (Computer Sciences Corporation) had a job opening requiring a library degree, I
The interviewer, my prospective boss, asked me what I knew about
"configuration management." I thought for a moment, then replied truthfully
"I think Ive heard of it." Not an answer calculated to impress him!
He paused, looked me up and down thoroughly, and finally said: "You can learn
That simply, I was hired to manage a library of confidential and secret
documents for a submarine electronic warfare program.
A year later CSC transferred me to Kennedy Space Center, Florida, where
I spent two unforgettable years working with the engineers, technicians, managers, and
astronauts who tested, fixed, and flew the earliest Space Shuttles.
Again, I learned an entirely new field. I helped schedule Firing Room
computers and software for tests and launches; went to varied meetings at most of
KSCs far-flung facilities; and supervised the tape and documentation library that
supported the Firing Rooms.
In the course of that job I stood atop Launch Pad 39As tower;
visited the electronics rooms buried beneath it; worked inside a Mobile Launch Platform,
and walked past unstacked Solid Rocket Booster segments. I stood beneath the orbiter
Columbia in its servicing bay; watched Challenger and Discovery arrive at KSC; and sat in
the "flow" meetings that prepared Challenger for its first launch (a successful
one). I watched Shuttles being mated with their solid rocket boosters and external tanks,
transported to Pad 39A, and launched. I heard the "call to stations" that began
each countdown, and chatted with astronauts in cafeteria lines, hallways, and mens
In late 1983, Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin) hired me to help
build a West Coast Space Shuttle launch and landing site, nicknamed "Slick 6"
(for SLC-6, Space Launch Complex 6), at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. After my
interview, the personnel manager told me "Were going to make you a software
planner." I didnt argue: CSCs contract at Kennedy was ending, and I
needed a new job. But there were two small problems. First, I knew nothing
about software. Second, I had no idea what a planner did! Could I learn quickly
enough? I had nightmares for weeks.
But my new boss had decided to develop new people. To help manage our
launch site activation contract with the Air Force Space Command, he hired as mixed a
group as Ive ever seen. Our college degrees were in history, philosophy, psychology,
sociology, religion, and libraries; not space science. One of us came from a brewery! Yet,
together, we learned to plan, build, and test a site capable of launching Space Shuttles.
We took classes to learn space technology. Yes, I discovered what a
planner does! I learned software development, cost account planning, and critical path
networks well enough to earn two written commendations.
In January 1986 Martin transferred me to Orlando, Florida to help plan
advanced radar, night vision, and missile systems. Two weeks after arriving, I stood in
the parking lot on
a bright, clear, cold morning watching the shuttle Challenger climb
toward space. Suddenly, the vapor trail ended in an unexpected puff of white smoke. Too
soon! Then the two Solid Rocket Boosters emerged, separated, both still burning
intensely, performing an agonizing slow-motion ballet across the sky. That wasnt
supposed to happen! Shaking and nauseated, I watched the diverging smoke trails that
told me none of those seven - six astronauts and a teacher would ever return
After that accident, the Vandenberg site was converted to an unmanned
In Orlando, we worked on new systems no one had ever built before. My
co-workers taught me to create planning tools like action item lists, first-unit flows,
hardware requirements lists, and make/buy lists. We set up master plans and detailed
schedules. For one night vision system, four of us created a 9,000-activity critical path
network (used to help keep the program on schedule and within budget). We succeeded well
enough to earn the best on-time record of any defense contractor in the Southeast.
Time after time, we were placed on advanced programs about whose
technology we knew nothing. It was a welcome contrast with companies who judged me only by
past experience. Martin wanted planners who could learn; who could do new things.
We did! We found that, given the chance, we could rise to almost any challenge.
God applied that same principle with leaders like Joseph, Moses, and
David, who all stepped up from menial roles to high responsibilities
Could some of our employees respond the same way?
My youngest son and daughter have managed several "special
needs" individuals. They discovered that those employees were often capable of
learning far more than most people thought and were anxious to be given a chance
to prove it! When provided with patient teaching and an opportunity to learn new
tasks, they often excelled. They were dependable, hard-working, and honest and
returned Bill and Yvettes love by nominating them both for Mayors Leadership
Is it harder to fit "special needs" or elderly people into
your companys workforce? Yes, of course. But do you favor supporting all those
people only through welfare? I doubt that. And if not, we all need to do our share in
identifying productive work such people can do.
Goethe said, "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be,
and you'll help them to become what they are capable of becoming."
Some Scriptures: Gen. 37:18-28; 37:36; 39:1-6; 41:37-42; Ex.
3:10-12; 1 Sam. 16:1-13; Jer. 1:4-10.
Treat employees well.
"We have fasted before you, they say ... Why
dont you hear our prayers? ... Ill tell you why! Because you ... keep right on
oppressing your workers" (Is. 58:3).
"Never oppress a poor hired man, whether a fellow Israelite or a
foreigner living in your town" (Deut. 24:14).
In the Bible, "oppress" included not paying workers; treating
them unfairly; cheating them; or even selling a family or its children into slavery. 1
Sam 8:11-13 warns Israel that the king they demanded will force some of their sons "to
plow in the royal fields and harvest his crops without pay," and their daughters
to do his domestic work.
Do some employers "oppress" workers today? Unfortunately,
yes. One employer never paid my family for three months work. A friend of ours was
"shorted" several thousand dollars. One owner tried to avoid time-and-a-half
overtime by scheduling employees to work at two stores, but only paying overtime if
they worked more than 40 hours at one.
And thats the bare beginning. In parts of the world, "oppression" takes
In 2000, the United Nations vowed to fight trafficking which had forced at least 12.3
million adults and children worldwide into forced labor, bonded labor, and forced
prostitution. But by 2010, the US Department of State acknowledged "too few
resources, too little vision, and too few [good] outcomes. Less than ½ of 1 per cent of
estimated victims were being identified, little assistance was provided to survivors, and
62 countries had never convicted a trafficker
Trafficking, often controlled by organized crime, affects both men and women. Kara
estimates that about one-third of trafficking is for sex, and the other two-thirds
"for domestic servitude, forced agricultural work, begging, manufacturing,
construction, and organ harvesting."
"Women are trapped in fields, factories, mines, and restaurants, often suffering
the dual demons of forced labor and sexual assault ... services for survivors are ... rare
... And if they are found, women are ... [often] locked in "shelters" that look
more like prisons than the safe haven that a survivor needs."
Kara cites many kinds of servitude. He describes children trafficked to beg on the
streets of major cities. One nine-year-old explained "I started to beg and sell
handkerchiefs ... We slept on the bridge .. [the trafficker] burned me with cigarettes
because I did not earn enough money ... he always beat me" (p. 147).
Others are "forced to work in sweatshops and factories that produce everything
from curry spice to plastic toys" (p. 168).
One immigrant said, "When we crossed from Mexico to Arizona ... the coyote said he
found a guy who says hell take people to Florida ...to pick tomatoes and earn $150 a
day ... we said, OK, lets go ... But we didnt get any of that money. We were
stuck working for four months without being able to leave" (Kara, p. 190).
During 2005 and 2006, newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune
reported that during the US occupation of Iraq, US defense contractor Halliburton and 200
subcontractors trafficked about 35,000 workers from several South Asian and Middle Eastern
countries to work on US military bases. Upon arrival, passports were confiscated and the
"employees" were forced to work without pay." The Tribune quoted a US Air
Force colonel who testified to the US Armed Services Committee that such behavior was
"standard practice" (Kara, p. 194).
The deputy superintendent of one countrys trafficking police told Kara of his
regions most violent kind of forced labor: fishing.
Fishing? Pleasant recreation? Not there. Boys are trafficked to the coast, taken out to
sea, and forced to catch fish as unpaid slaves. They work twenty hours a day for months.
The captains force them to take amphetamines to keep going. Other ships transfer the fish,
but the boys are kept on board. At the end of the fishing season, "many are shot and
thrown into the sea."
This kind of slavery occurs on the coasts of at least three continents, and forced
labor tactics "are used throughout the supply chain, from processing to packaging of
seafood" (Kara, p. 167-169).
In the natural gas and oil fields of the western US, we met well-paid workers
not slaves - who depended on drugs to allow them to work 16-to-18 hour shifts, and who
then persuaded their wives to "do drugs" with them.
The head of one major non-profit organization told Kara hed been warned by an
International Criminal Court judge that he could work on child trafficking for sex or
begging, but "work on child trafficking for organ harvesting, and youre
dead." In at least one country, children are procured from other nations and killed
"to carve out their internal organs and sell them on the black market," in
collaboration with hospitals. Prices make this practice "just as lucrative as sex
trafficking." Kara says that "Despite the risks, efforts to combat child organ
harvesting must be escalated" (pp. 89,149).
In West Africa, according to Change.Org, up to 2,000,000 children as young as seven
endure sixteen hour days working on cocoa farms, suffering beatings to make them do it.
Change.Org is attempting to end that.
On some coffee bean plantations, unpaid slaves are exposed to heavy
concentrations of toxic pesticides. And many slave owners slice their slaves feet
with razor blades each morning to prevent escapes (Kara, p. 258).
Theres much more. But thats enough!
What would we do if we saw Jesus being treated this way?
More Scriptures: Lev. 19:13; Job 31:13-23; Mal. 3:5; Eph. 5:9; Col. 4:1. See Jeremiah
34:8-22 for the results of disobeying laws in Deut. 15:12-18 on the treatment of slaves.
What does the Bible say about self-employment?
Many Bible characters worked for themselves. They included farmers;
fishermen like Peter and Andrew, cattlemen like Jabal (Gen. 4:20); sheepmen,
merchants, artisans and craftsmen like Tubal-Cain (Gen. 4:22), and the men
who built the Tabernacle (Ex. 35:10 to 39:43).
Even well-educated St. Paul used self-employment to support himself
on his missionary journeys.
"Paul lived and worked [with Aquila and Priscilla], for they
were tentmakers just as he was" (Acts 18:3; also see 1 Thess. 2:9).
Today self-employment is a common source of extra money, though a
challenging way to make a living.
My familys self-employment through a discount store chain meant
survival. And, by letting us choose many of our stores, it gave us a high degree of
independence. We made the most of that by careful, prayerful planning, considering both
potential income and our childrens education. That let us show them much of the West
(including Crater Lake, the Golden Spike Historic Site, the Goldstone Deep Space Tracking
Network, the Grand Canyon, the Grand Tetons, Los Angeles, Monument Valley, the Mount
Palomar telescope, Mount Rushmore, Mount Shasta, NASAs Ames Research Center, the
Redwoods, San Diego, San Francisco, and Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks).
What barriers to finding work exist today?
Once Id have said "none." But we encountered several
that neither we nor our friends could overcome. Among them:
When Yvonnes lawyer-boss overheard that she was
"expecting," he promptly announced he wouldnt work with a pregnant woman,
gave her two weeks severance pay, and sent her home. No one else would hire her
while she was pregnant. Our income was cut in half. That hurt!
Many employers still practice age discrimination, even though it
clearly violates federal law. One program manager told us our companys internal
policies required 90% of its "new hires" to be new college graduates.
By the time I was in my 50s even a hint of my age meant no
interview. A job-hunting class taught us to omit birth dates on our resumes, never list
more than 10 years experience, and say "5 years with company X" instead of
giving dates. I even dyed my hair to remove the gray! Nothing helped.
In a San Diego-area campground, we shared an evening wiener roast with
a family from Los Angeles. The father was a gifted computer expert who had contracted
hepatitis via acupuncture on a business trip to Asia. Now no one would hire him because of
his insurance costs. His family couldnt live without his income. Theyd looked
hard for solutions. Theyd found none.
In contrast, when one of my employees suffered a major
heart attack we held his job open until he could return. Our local hospital did the same
for me when I broke my ankle and couldnt work for a month.
We all need work. Laws do officially guard against
discrimination. In the US, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and
Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 all apply. But, in real life, those laws
often arent followed.
One pastor wasnt sympathetic. He argued "you have to
understand business point of view." Yes, but we wondered: shouldnt he
also care about his sheep? Did he realize he was telling his over-40 parishioners to let
their families go hungry and/or homeless?
When we dont hire and give fair pay to - "the
least of these my brothers" for reasons like age, sex, pregnancy, race, religion, or
politics, were refusing to hire Jesus.
What does the Bible say about loaning money?
Loans were meant to help, not to profit. The Bible advises generous
love, coupled with caution.
"If your brother becomes poor, you are responsible to help him;
invite him to live with you as a guest in your home. Fear your God and let your brother
live with you; and don't charge him interest on the money you lend him. Remember--no
interest, and give him what he needs, at your cost: don't try to make a profit!"
Though the Bible taught generosity and forgiveness, lenders and
borrowers both suffered poor reputations. "For I am hated everywhere I go. I am
neither a creditor soon to foreclose nor a debtor refusing to pay yet they all
curse me" (Jer. 15:10).
More Scriptures: Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:39-43; Deut. 14:27;
23:19-20; Ps. 15:1-2; 15:5; Prov. 20:16; Ezek. 18:5; 7-17; Matt. 5:42.
What Biblical laws governed debts?
Debts were revoked every 7th year, and again every 50th
year (the year of Jubilee).
"Every fiftieth year ... shall be holy, a time to proclaim
liberty throughout the land to all enslaved debtors, and a time for the canceling of all
public and private debts" (Lev. 25:8-10).
"At the end of every seventh year there is to be a canceling of
all debts! Every creditor shall write Paid in full on any promissory note ...
No one will become poor because of this, for the Lord will greatly bless you ... if you
obey this command.
"If ... there are any who are poor, you must not shut your heart
or hand against them; you must lend them as much as they need. Beware! Dont refuse a
loan because the year of debt cancellation is near at hand! If you refuse to make the loan
and the needy man cries out to the Lord it will be counted against you as a sin. You must
lend him what he needs, and don't moan about it either! For the Lord will prosper
everything you do because of this! There will always be some among you who are poor ...
You must lend to them liberally" (Deut. 15:1-11; also read Neh. 10:31).
No bankruptcy was necessary, and no ones credit score was harmed!
But Proverbs 3:27-28 balances those laws with its advice:
"Dont withhold repayment of your debts. Dont say "some other
time," if you can pay now."
I grew to respect laws designed to give debtors a fresh start.
For several years after my layoff the only way we could buy groceries
and pay rent was with credit cards. Those cards were, literally, lifesavers. But as we
neared their credit limits monthly interest charges would often push us over-limit, and
the company then charged us fees that were double our states legal limits. (We
didnt know that and paid them anyway.)
One winter we were hit hard with car repairs, computer crashes, and
medical bills. We quickly fell a month behind on all our cards, and struggled not to go
Some companies were helpful, and waived their late fees and over-limit
fees. Others increased their interest rates, making the problem worse. One
company dropped its fees, but put them right back on the same day. It did the same thing
the next month. Our debts spiraled nightmarishly.
It didnt take long to appreciate the Bibles admonitions to
not crush debtors with high interest rates. We learned how easily people who work hard and
manage their money well can still be forced into bankrukptcy. And we learned how much the
Israelites must have appreciated 7-year and 50-year debt-cancellation laws.
What about co-signing for loans and security for debts?
Co-signing may seem like a form of "loving your neighbors,"
but the Bible always warns against it:
"It is poor judgment to countersign anothers note, to
become responsible for his debts" (Prov. 17:18).
More Scriptures: Prov. 6:1-5; 11:15; 20:16; 22:26-27; 27:13.
Personal property could be used as security for debts, but
couldnt affect the borrowers well-being or ability to work. The lender
couldnt enter the borrowers home.
"If you take his clothing as a pledge of his repayment,
you must let him have it back at night. For it is probably his only warmth; how can he
sleep without it? If you don't return it, and he cries to me for help, I will hear and be
very gracious to him (at your expense), for I am very compassionate" (Ex. 22:26-27).
More Scriptures: Lev. 6:1-5; Deut. 24:6; 24:10-13; Job 22:6;
Ezek. 18:5-13; 33:14-15.
How does God react to people who take advantage of others?
God gets angry.
Nehemiah 5:1-13 describes a trial of wealthy individuals
who abused the poor: "About this time there was a great outcry of protest from
parents ... families who ran out of money for food had to sell their children or mortgage
their fields, vineyards, and homes to these rich men; and some couldn't even do that, for
they already had borrowed to the limit to pay their taxes.
"We are their brothers, and our children are just like
theirs, the people protested. Yet we must sell our children into slavery to
get enough money to live. We have already sold some of our daughters, and we are helpless
to redeem them, for our fields, too, are mortgaged to these men.
"I was very angry when I heard this ... I spoke out.
"What is this you are doing? I demanded. How
dare you demand a mortgage as a condition for helping another Israelite?
"Then I called a public trial to deal with them.
"At the trial I shouted at them, The rest of us are doing
all we can to help our Jewish brothers who have returned from exile as slaves in distant
lands, but you are forcing them right back into slavery again. How often must we redeem
"And they had nothing to say in their own defense.
"Then I pressed further. What you are doing is very evil ...
Should you not walk in the fear of our God? Don't we have enough enemies among the nations
around us? The rest of us are lending money and grain to our fellow-Jews without any
interest. I beg you, gentlemen, stop this business of usury. Restore their fields,
vineyards, oliveyards, and homes to them this very day and drop your claims against
"So they agreed to do it ... Then I summoned the priests and made
these men formally vow to carry out their promises. And I invoked the curse of God upon
any of them who refused.
"May God destroy your homes and livelihood if you fail to
keep this promise, I declared.
"And all the people shouted, Amen, and praised the
Lord. And the rich men did as they had promised."
More Scriptures: Ex. 22:25-27; Job 22:4-6; 24:9-12; Ezek. 22:12-16;
Amos 2:6-8; 8:4-7; Zeph. 1:11; Matt. 15:3-9; Mark 7:5-13.
"The miracle is this - the more we share, the more we have" Leonard