- What is Right
Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
James 4:17 NLT
Life Application Study Bible
We tend to think that doing wrong is sin. But James tells us that sin is also not doing right. (These two kinds of sin are sometimes called sins of commission and sins of omission.) It is a sin to lie; it can also be a sin to know the truth and not tell it. It is a sin to speak evil of someone; it is also a sin to avoid him or her when you know he or she needs your friendship. We should be willing to help as the Holy Spirit guides us. If God has directed you to do a kind act, to render a service, or to restore a relationship, do it. You will experience a renewed and refreshed vitality to your Christian faith.
Knowing what should be done and failing to do it is just as harmful, and sometimes can be even more harmful within a culture/organization than just doing what is wrong.
Many organizations and people will espouse to values of integrity and honesty in their visible marketing of themselves to others — but what about when the rubber meets the road, and what about when no one is watching?
When you discover that you’ve mistakenly billed a customer for years past for a service that you never provided them — the is a decision at hand. The one only concerned with maximizing profits will say, “Keep on doing it. No sense cutting into our profits for something they don’t even know about.” The one with no true moral center and no heart for cut-throat business either, will prove foolish enough to leave a strong evidentiary trail of fraud (proving both knowledge of past wrongdoing and a conscious decision to not disclose it) by saying, “Just start providing the service now, and we will keep billing for it.” But only the man who gathers wholly the evidence of the oversight, develops a report of the evidence along with a recommendation on offering remedy to the customer is the one who is going to reconcile the liability. To understand this rightly, we must not assume that “hiding” or “ignoring” something wrong will never be discovered. If we were able to recognize and discover the truth, there is a similar chance that the customer will add well. And if they do before we have come to them ourselves with a remedy, chances are that the evidence will either paint us as ignorantly negligent (the liability itself expected to be returned as compensation), or as criminally fraudulent (the liability plus compensation and fines/penalties). We can see that the liability doesn’t disappear by ignoring or hiding it, and that the best option in this case is actually to proactively communicate the oversight and proactively offer a settlement of a portion of the liability.
Think about not only the liability itself, but either the goodwill sown (or the ill will proven), depending on how the situation is handled. If you go to the customer, openly acknowledging the oversight and offering some level of settlement before it is even uncovered by the customer, they will most times see their own mistake in not recognizing the oversight as well, and will find that you are clearly proven trustworthy in your dealings with them. You will also prove to them that the long term viability of ther business relationship and integrity of your reputation is more important to you than the thought of short term gains. This is a valuable commodity in a marketplace of discerning customers, and is a testimony that can be marketed to your advantage for years to come. In comparison, consider what the evidence of a coverup, of fraud, of intentional improper billing would do to your reputation and marketing efforts in the future.
“Right” is not some morality relative manipulating and twistinging of the circumstances to justify what we think is a “reasonably”, “probable risk” to take. That isn’t “right”, it is conscious and intentional “fraud”. And let’s be honest — it risks in the long term liabilities for the promise of short term gains. Let’s not be confused about what is “right”, and let’s not be swayed from seeking to do what is “right”.