Question:

I want to know more about bribes, If we know some people in control, like a chief or head of a department, and we are friendly with them, perhaps sometimes giving a gift or support at a time of need, such as a sick family member, and that person favors us, not to pervert justice but trying to help us, trying to pull strings and give us a solution that is righteous and not against the law; is that OK? I am having problems with this area of knowledge. I have check your web site and see that bribery and perverting justice is wrong, but what about friendship and supporting each other? Can you give more information about it?

Also can you write about partiality? I have a tendency to favor someone who is good to me. Sometimes I really pull the strings and help beyond what I normally do. Is that OK?


Answer:

"And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous" (Exodus 23:8).

The purpose behind a bribe is to get an official to overlook wrong doing. It can corrupt dealings because it makes the official receiving the bribe partial. "Surely oppression destroys a wise man's reason, and a bribe debases the heart" (Ecclesiastes 7:7). The use of bribes is in expectation of getting something back in return. A bribe may be given to make sure a document is properly filed and filed on time. Such is wrong because it creates an injustice in the system. What should be done anyway is now only done for those who can pay.

But gifts are something different because there is nothing being expected in return. "A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men" (Proverbs 18:16). As Christians, we ought to be generous people. "Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil" (Luke 6:30-35). In other words, if you treat people equally, helping because they need help and not just because they happen to be an official who will benefit your business, then your kindness will benefit you in many ways.

People tend to love the generous, sadly because they get benefits from another person's generosity. "Many entreat the favor of the nobility, and every man is a friend to one who gives gifts" (Proverbs 19:6). But this doesn't mean generosity cannot be used to a good purpose. "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth" (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2). The first verse is using the idea of fishing. If you feed the fish, then when you have a future need for food, something is there. The second extends the idea. Be generous to the less fortunate because one you might need help and those you have helped will remember.

"The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself" (Proverbs 11:25). Notice that there isn't a direct repayment. This isn't the purchasing of favors. This is how people generally respond to someone who has treated them well. It may come from avenues that you least expect, but that is because God repays. "He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor" (Proverbs 22:9). "He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given" (Proverbs 19:17). If you are only generous to the rich, it won't be appreciated. "He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty" (Proverbs 22:16).

Yes, there is a strong tendency to be good to those who are good to you. But we should also be willing to do good to other people as well. "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:9-10). As our resources allow (time, money, etc.) we do good to everyone, especially fellow Christians. None of this is seen as buying favors, but investing in friendships and kind feelings.

"Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation" (I Peter 2:11-12).

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

Partiality is wrong when decisions (judgments) are required. "You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:15). Notice that this goes both ways. You don't excuse a person just because they are poor, nor excuse a person because he is rich.

A shopkeeper may go the extra mile for a customer who has given him good business, but he still gives good service to a stranger who walks into his shop, or even to a person he does not like. He might decline to do business with someone who has cheated him in the past, but that is because it it a good business practice and not because of a personal like or dislike of a person.