|By Crown Financial Ministries
A close friend, whom we will call Bill, called to discuss a difficult situation he was facing. Several months before, Bill had released a key employee because of his belligerent attitude. Now that employee was going into competition with him with one of his clients. Obviously, it was his right to start a new business, except that to do so he had to subcontract his business to Bill until he could get his equipment functioning. Also, the ex-employee was calling on Bill’s customers and casually dropping many degrading remarks about his former employer.
The questions Bill asked were honest and difficult ones: "How far do I go as a Christian in aiding my competitors?" "Is it really my responsibility to carry them with my business until they can develop theirs and compete for my customers?"
Hate the enemy?
A Christian must decide early in his or her spiritual life that surrendering to God necessitates giving up some personal rights, one of which is retaliation. "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:43-44).
Aid the enemy?
Loving your enemies (we expand that term to include business competitors) is different from aiding them. Christ loved the Pharisees (as He loved everyone), but He certainly did not help them. To the contrary, He opposed them often and warned His disciples to stay away from them (see Matthew 16:6). They represented a "counterforce" that was anti-Christian. This is not meant to imply that all competitors fall into the same classification as the Pharisees, but when competitors purposely set themselves against your and God’s interests, they certainly cannot be classified as friends. God wants us to love competitors both prayerfully and spiritually, but that does not mean to aid them. There can be occasions when God directs us to aid a competitor--but only because it provides a witness for Him.
Love your enemies
Even a survey of this subject would be incomplete without discussing Proverbs 25:21. "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink." Paul made reference to this Proverb in Romans 12. The context in which it is used dispels any idea that Christians have a right to revenge. A common misconception is that we must hand our enemies a cup of water while they beat us on the head. Clearly this is not so. Rather, we are to forgive our enemies and acknowledge their needs as we would our friends’.
What was Bill’s conclusion? He decided not to aid his competitors. He requested that they take their business elsewhere or do it themselves. He gave them adequate notice so that they could transfer their business. The motivation was not to punish them but to be the best possible steward of God’s business.