We look to the Bible for ways to treat our fellow man, how to serve God, and how to know Him more.
But maybe that’s not enough.
Christianity should live and breathe the Scriptures. Every aspect of our lives should reflect our faith in the Creator and exemplify the character of our Messiah.
However, there is one area of life that’s often neglected in Christian application.
Businesses play a huge role in our everyday lives, yet there are few references to conducting a business based on Biblical principles — until now!
The Book of Ruth is a riveting story of loyalty, faith, and love – but it also offers key underlying guidelines for proper business etiquette.
Ruth and Naomi would have been hard-pressed to put food on the table if it weren’t for Ruth gleaning in the fields.
Gleaning is where farmers would leave small portions of unharvested crops so that the poor could come and collect from it.
It’s important to note that the grateful participants of this ancient practice were not given food through dispensaries, but were offered the opportunity to work the fields for their sustenance.
Eric Stumberg, CEO of Tengo Internet, believes that, “Every Business decision is a theological decision,” according to Made To Flourish.
This concept is what caused the growing tech company to look at gleaning as a modern business model.
“I was contextualizing what Boaz did,” said Stumberg, according to Christianity Today.
Boaz was the owner of the fields that Ruth would glean from.
Stumberg believes God is the true owner of all he has, and so it was laid on his heart to mirror that in how he conducts his company.
“The story of Boaz helped me name something the Lord was moving in my heart,” Stumberg added.
And there was no better time to put this idea to use.
Tengo Internet, having reached their capacity and still growing, needed more room. Office space was the first order of business and that’s when it hit Stumberg – he was going to leave a “margin for others” just like Boaz did.
When finding new office space, Stumberg purchased extra so that others outside of his company could work there and improve their lives.
Christianity Today reports on Stumberg’s remarks concerning the decision:
“It’s like hospitality. When we expanded our space, we built a couple extra offices and deliberately set them aside for others to work.”
Two offices were quickly filled. One was occupied by Allies Against Slavery, a nonprofit startup that works to end human trafficking, while the other was occupied by an Anglican priest.
Neither party is charged rent, nor is supervised by Stumberg and his company.
The deal was straightforward – you could use the space as long as you were working. This put into practice the heart behind gleaning as described in Leviticus 19:9–10 and Deuteronomy 24:19–22.
“At the most basic level, it was a practical way to help provide for those in need and to remind everyone of God’s own provision,” as Christianity Today puts it.
Gleaning has the ability to do more than just help those in need, it can bring whole communities to life.
If all businesses took this approach, it would open up the door for so many people of lower socioeconomic levels to work.
Sometimes all those in need require is hope and a chance to do better for themselves.
In a society where so much goes to waste, it could simply be a matter of putting resources we already have available to good use.
NPR released a story that highlighted how a staggering 96 billion pounds of pre-consumer produce was wasted annually in the United States because it didn’t look appealing enough for supermarket shelves.
This news led many organizations like the “Ugly” Fruit and Veg Campaign and the Society of St. Andrew to rise up, taking what was once considered waste and using it to help those in need.
But does the concept of gleaning surpass the field of agriculture? And isn’t it more than organizations handing out free food?
We sure think so! And Christianity Today reflects the same sentiments:
“Biblical gleaning, however, goes beyond an agricultural method for food donation. It’s not charity. Gleaning is about the dignity of work and the transformational role of practicing business to bring peace and welfare to all.”
Helping the poor and others who need social or economic support should go beyond the liberal mindset of Robin Hood – stealing from the rich and giving it to the poor. History has shown us that following this futile method only creates entitlement, debt, and despair.
But empowering individuals with resources and the opportunity to pull themselves up by their own means gives them invaluable self-confidence that lasts beyond a meal.
As Christians, we need to live by Biblical principles in our personal lives and our professional lives.
Examine your business or work environment and look for ways that you can offer Biblical gleaning to the whole community, letting Christ’s light shine on those in their darkest days.
Please let us know in the comments section if you’ve seen the gleaning concept in your place of work or are inspired to apply it at your business!