Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Honor, justice, excellence: these come to mind easily when we reflect on what makes business commendable. To be fair, to play by the rules, to do an honest day’s work, and to succeed by dint of hard work and excellence - these traits are indeed praiseworthy, and they are often seen in business people. Admirable as these virtues are, however, they are not by themselves enough to nourish the soul: that takes beauty. If business is to inspire the highest virtues of character and enlarge the soul, we should expect to see beauty in it. So let’s reflect for a moment on where beauty is to be found in business. In other words, how can business be “lovely,” as Paul describes praiseworthiness?
First of all, business is beautiful by the sheer force of its witness to God’s covenant and creation. Healthy business builds economic shalom, serving God’s purposes by bringing prosperity, meaningful work, and valuable goods and services into being. These are signs of creativity in fulfilling God’s mandate to be fruitful and multiply, and there is beauty in the creation of such tangible blessings. There is beauty in the talent and energy required to create them. These are all gifts which flow from God’s providence.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” so the old saying goes. In the case of business, beauty is not hard to find if we look for people intent on serving others and contributing to the common good. It is our sense of spiritual calling that inspires the kind of admirable work that enriches the soul. This is as true of serving in the arena of business as it is of serving in the arenas of the arts and crafts. In each case, the beauty is derived from a connection to a greater spiritual reality.
From the beginning, God’s signature was revealed in the diversity and abundance of heaven and earth, and especially in the plenteous life in the Garden. The Psalms glorify the lavish display of life and wonders of the heavens—“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (Psalm 104:24). This multiform creativity also shows up in the variety of works done by humankind (Psalm 104:23). The never-ending innovation of entrepreneurs bears witness to God’s delight in diversity, abundance, and generosity of spirit. Show me a prosperous community where people enjoy the quality of their life, and I will show you a beautiful web of inter-dependent businesses serving one another.
As Abraham Kuyper said, “multiformity is the undeniable mark of fresh and vigorous life.”  The profusion of businesses in a healthy economy is thus a telltale sign of God’s common grace and points to the beauty of God’s design for human flourishing.
 Kuyper, “Uniformity: The Curse of Modern Life”, in Abraham Kuyper: a centennial reader, ed. James D. Bratt, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 25.
© by Bruce D. Baker, 2015