The "Sharing Economy" November 20 2015

The cover of the magazine said “Trust Me.”  In it was an article that addressed a new frontier called the “sharing economy.” The article explained how entrepreneurs are helping people save money with services like UBER and AirBnb (which help you get rides and lodging respectively).  With these innovative services, complete strangers can be connected as buyer and seller. However, the need then arose for checking the “trustworthiness” of both the one served and the service provider.

It is the trustworthiness part that I’ve always been most interested in. The inventors of these systems have figured out how to provide incentives for people to keep their commitments. You earn a reputation (either good or bad) by how you keep your commitments to provide or pay for the service. Failing to deliver on your commitments, even a little bit, can hurt your reputation for trustworthiness.  

While this “sharing economy” is relatively new, the need for trustworthiness is not. It has always been necessary in the marketplace, the workplace, and in relationships. And the Bible has a great deal to say about it. For example, it says:
  •  A good name is to be more desired than great wealth (Proverbs 22:1)
  •  In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. (I Corinthians 4:2)
  • Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.  (Proverbs 12:22)
It is a great thing to help people keep their commitments.  Perseverance in trustworthiness and faithfulness leads to proven character. However, there is a difference between godly trustworthiness and the type of secular trust sought in the emerging online services mentioned above.
 
With online commitments, you do not really know whether people are inherently trustworthy or whether they are simply fulfilling obligations for their own benefit. Someone is truly trustworthy when they will do what is right even if there is no corresponding reward in doing so. They do it even if no one notices. Look at the following passages:
  • Matthew 25:14-30 – The servants were faithful even while the master was away.
  • Colossian 3:22 – God calls slaves/servants to work with sincerity of heart.
  • Ephesians 6:6 – God calls us to obey – not as “people-pleasers” or by way of eyeservice
This is trustworthiness at a higher level.  As a believer, our trustworthiness should not be motivated primarily by what we can reap. It is not out of fear of consequences. It is out of love for God and others, in response to God’s love for us.

Does God provide  rewards and discipline based on our obedience and faithfulness (or lack thereof)?  Yes He does - much in the same way that parents should be helping children (see Hebrews 12:7).  We will look at that in a future blog post.  But while we appreciate and depend on the earthly systems for helping us be trustworthy, doing these things out of gratitude for God’s love is what sets the believer apart from the world's way.  May God help us show our love for Him and others as we seek to make (and keep) our earthly commitments.