Don’t lead your brother into sin

Paul tells us in Romans 14:13, “to never put a stumbling block or hinderance in the way of a brother”. That’s sound advice, as relevant today as it was back when Paul wrote it. We read on the reference here is regarding food and drink, but it has other applications.

 My friend, we will call him Tom, because that might be his name, is an architect. One morning over a cup of tea I was busy complaining to him about all the issues I was facing with a construction tender package I was managing.

Tom was our architect on what was a relatively small refit of a retirement village facility, something around a million dollars or so in value. After Tom had completed the drawings, we had gone through all the standard processes of issuing sealed tender documents to four building contractors.

As often happens, there are a raft of questions asked by contractors during the tender period and it was my policy to reply to questions from one contractor to all four contractors, hence ensuring an even playing field, and complete transparency. The reality is that this usually helps the job run with fewer hiccups.

It came about that one contractor nominated by a manager from head office had taken to circumnavigating this process and gone directly to this manager…… who in turn was then calling me on what appeared to be on behalf of the contractor and asking questions when tenders had officially closed.

Enjoying the tea, Tom opened to me about an incident that happened to him over 40 years ago when he first kicked off his practice. Tom had applied to do some work for a major corporation so off he headed for the long drive from his office to Sydney where he met with some of the corporation managers. Hoping for a good outcome Tom put his best foot forward at the interview and it must have paid dividends because not long after he received a phone call from one of the interviewing managers who advised him, they were very impressed, so impressed that they would be offering him ongoing consultancy work.

Tom was over the moon and he certainly needed the work. However, there was a sting in the tail of the phone call. The manager advised Tom that when they gave him a project and when he was ready to invoice, he was a put a few extra dollars on top of his price which he was then to give in cash to the manager.   

As Tom recalled, it didn’t take long during that conversation for him to respond advising the manager that he was a Christian and could not take up his offer.

A day or so passed and Tom received another call from the same manager asking him if he would come back in and meet with him? Tom agreed, but said he would but would in no way consider the issue on loading up the invoice with money for him.

With the hint of a tear in his eye, Tom recounted how the manager broke down during the phone call, telling him that he had been a Christian who went to church, his marriage was on the rocks, and he was looking at losing everything. He and his mates had thought this was a good way to get him out of debt, a scheme the managers and his mates had devised, thinking they were helping him.

Tom did go back and see this manager in person; it must have been a heartbreaking meeting, one filled with guilt and remorse. I understand that manager went back to church. I know Tom led him out of sin and not into further sin. Not always easy, but for Tom, a Christian had only one way to respond, and that was to follow Jesus and honour God and His Word.

Forty years have passed since then and Tom has been getting regular work from this corporation for all that time, thank God. And what about the tender you might ask? One of the four contractors had to be knocked out as his documents were not compliant. Tom remained as architect. My manager from head office took me off the project despite the fact I knew the projects back to front and actually worked in the building due to be renovated – but who got the job? One would assume the lowest priced contractor, but unfortunately not. The contract was split into two parts and the highest overall bidder got the work. The job was redesigned to accommodate variations and more work, none of this went back to tender, (which it should have). Not six months later my manager moved to greener pastures. Life is a complex mixture of truth struggling in a web of temptation.

– Gary McArthur