There are tons of articles in business and psychological literature that give tips about how to negotiate. One recurrent theme is that all of life, not just business, is a negotiation and, many would say, the art in negotiating is to get what you want. The more clever you are, the more you rule. God has a different view.
The prophet Amos gives a strong warning against taking advantage of people– especially those who are most vulnerable– in order to get what you want. If you do, what you have done may be forgotten, but not by God.
The parable in the beginning of the 16th chapter of Luke has perplexed most Christians for a very long time because it seems to them that Jesus praises the conniving steward for his scheme to avoid full punishment for his larceny. The steward’s solution to the discovery that he has been cheating his master is to cheat his way out of trouble. Jesus ends the parable by noting that ‘the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.’ Huh?
The point here is that unbelievers are wiser in the ways of the world than believers are about things of the world to come. We should be savvy and clear–headed about how the world functions, but stay honest, remain focused on getting to heaven and helping others to get to heaven. We have a fundamental duty and privilege to solve problems for others while ‘lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.’
In this day and age, is negotiating life with this as a prevailing attitude possible? Absolutely. It this easy? Not always, God knows! But opportunity abounds. Every day we have the option to focus on ourselves or to serve God by serving others in honesty and charity.
Deacon Greg Osgood