COMPLIANCE OR OBEDIENCE

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:23-24


Corporate compliance
Many in the business world think compliance gets a bad rap because it is immediately associated with laws, constraints, inspections, audits, and penalties for those who don’t follow the rules. Most organizations understand the importance of regulatory compliance in preventing unethical conduct and violations of the law.It’s the necessary evil that is mandatory. But it also sucks up valuable time, effort, and resources from folks who would much rather be working on projects that innovate, inspire, and motivate. The word compliance often conjures up thoughts of what organizations must do rather than what they want to do.

And let’s be honest – doing the right thing isn’t always fun. Compliance, in truth, is about as much fun as going on a diet. Although eating healthy is essential to a long and vigorous life, sometimes you want to have that one cupcake and stray from the intended plan…even though the long-term consequences of repeated bad behavior can result in an abandoned diet altogether.


The problem with compliance
Given the amount of time, money, and energy that is expended on compliance, it is clear that businesses think that being compliant makes a business safer, more profitable, and more attractive. But like the dieting example demonstrates, being compliant is the ceiling, not the floor. One donut will not ruin a diet, and one breach of regulated protocols is not an example of an “un-compliant” company. This is nicely demonstrated by the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, when reacting to the allegations that Apple engages in actions of tax avoidance. He responded, “I do not see our tax actions as unfair because I do not consider myself an unfair person, nor is our company unfair.” Apple was “un-compliant,” yet Tim Cook twisted this into a fairness analogy challenging the fairness of Apple as a corporation. It is the “people are basically good, and a few occasionally make mistakes and do bad things” argument. It is no wonder we have such a massive regulatory machine in all levels of government demanding compliance who are at war with an equal-sized private corporation machine attempting to justify being un-compliant.


The Bible
Of course, we students of Scripture know that mankind is inherently bad. Even though we are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), we disobeyed and were kicked out of Eden. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but they are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. Obedience is defined as: “dutiful or submissive compliance to the commands of one in authority.” “Dutiful” means it is our obligation to obey God, just as Jesus fulfilled His duty to the Father by dying on the cross for our sins. “Submissive” indicates that we yield our wills to God’s. “Commands” speaks of the Scriptures in which God has clearly delineated His instructions. The “one in authority” is God Himself, whose authority is total and unequivocal. For the Christian, obedience means complying with everything God has commanded. It is our duty to do so.

The compliance industry is structured around a mountain of rules that are designed to force corporations to adhere to rules designed or perceived to make our businesses safer, pay their fair share, benefit the public, and structure an even playing field for all the other businesses in each industry. I’ll admit that many of the rules are one-sided, underhanded, and illogical. Obedience, especially obedience structured around the Bible, creates a world where we want to be compliant because it is the proper, ethical, and humane action. We want to take actions that are safe for both our employees and the environment. We want to be fair. And we want to pay our share.


Think and pray

If we are obedient to our Lord and Creator, all compliance issues will fall into place.

Heavenly Father, help us to obey you in all you have called us to and demonstrate our love for you by being compliant in Jesus’ name, Amen.



Philip W. Struble is the President of Landplan Engineering and is passionate about helping business leaders steward their companies in a way that honors God. He is the author of Zebedee and Sons Fishing Co.: Business Advice from the Bible and hosts a weekly blog atwww.zebedeeandsonsfishingco.com. Philip and his wife, Stephanie, have four adult children and currently reside on a small farm in rural Douglas County, Kansas.

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