Section 2: The Entrepreneurial Life
Part 4: Kingdom Entrepreneurs
A couple of hundred years ago there were two Christian grocers in London who ran market stalls. One of them said to the other (this is what I imagined to have happened), "You know, as Christians we're supposed to have honest scales. It says so in the Bible. So, how should we do that?" "Well, I'll tell you what, I'll come and check your scales on Wednesdays to make sure their accurate and you come on Sundays and check mine, we'll make sure they’re accurate. There is a Biblical principle here that we'll make part of the way we do business."
As these two grocers met together, they came out with a list of twelve principles that they felt were the guiding Biblical principles of the way that they should do business in London. Then something interesting happened. People preferred to buy from them because they knew they would get a good product, at a fair price, with honest scales, etc. They preferred to buy from these grocers.
And other grocers who were Christians said this isn't fair, we need to be honest. "So the two grocers said, "OK, if you sign up to these twelve principles and we hold you accountable for these twelve principles, then you can join our association of Christian grocer's." In those days it wasn't called exactly that, but it is still in existence today and is called the Most Worshipful Company of Livery Merchants. The Master of it is the Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Company. It's very odd and peculiarly British.
And then the bakers came along and said, "Yeah, these grocers are doing so well by applying Biblical principles. We're Christians; let's apply these same principles to our baking business." And then came the saddle makers and the fan makers. There were twelve original companies. There were thirteen separate trades in the city of London and twelve of those trades agreed to live by a set of twelve biblical principles to govern their businesses; they were the most successful businessmen. The thirteenth trade was the masons, and the masons became known as the Free Masons because they were free from the principles of the other twelve companies.
Very interesting. The twelve great companies of the City of London are still known this way today. Now there are 300 companies in the City of London registered as Livery Companies. The latest one was the Most Worshipful Company of Information Technologists. So everybody that joins one of the companies in the City of London, even today gets a list of the principles they have to sign up to. There are 36 Biblical principles to guide your life. They call this list, Some Rules for the Conduct of Life to Which Are Added A Few Cautions.
The livery companies re-formed as companies that would live according to these biblical principles. They effected change and what happened was that the rulers of the nation in Britain began to see the effect of these companies and said, "What we need to do is make these law in the whole nation. Instead of just these grocers having their honest scales, every scale in Britain needs to weigh accurately." The government Weights and Measures Department which we have today can trace its history back to the day when these two grocers decided to keep themselves accountable for Biblical principles. The government, the King, then adopted that principle and said this should be an issue of law- every scale in Britain should be honest. Every product should be a good product at a fair price and all of the government institutions that we have today in Britain can trace their history back to the Christian Grocers Association of 1600 and something or other.
Each trade in the City of London appointed what they called a foreign officer. His job was to manage the import of products from overseas to make sure they adhered to the same principles and standards that are set out in the 36 principles. So the whole thing of fair trade came out of that. If they were using slave labor to produce something, and we were not, then they were not allowed to compete against us because that was unfair trade. And the governments of the twelve companies each had their foreign officer and they used to meet in a place called the 'foreign office.'
And the government of England's foreign office today, which deals with all our international politics out of London, is the historic home of these foreign officers who managed trade. Weights and Measures, the Health and Safety at work, all of these things come from these companies.