“Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the LORD demanded. “I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me.” — Numbers 22:32

“What you see is what you get” is not always true, particularly in the business world. Take Balaam, for example. He is one of the Bible’s most perplexing characters.

When King Balak of Moab saw the children of Israel approaching the Promised Land—through his own backyard—he sent for Balaam to pronounce a curse on them and thereby halt their progress. Balaam consulted the Lord and was told not to accede to the king’s request, even though the offer was financially attractive. King Balak, on hearing of Balaam’s refusal, increased the offer.

In response, Balaam sought and was given permission by the Lord to go—on the condition that he only say what the Lord told him to say. Then, when Balaam set out, the Lord was upset that Balaam was going, even though the Lord had said he could! Either the Lord was being incredibly fickle, or Balaam was hiding something and the Lord knew it. The latter solution is most in keeping with what we know of God’s character.

After being rebuked by his donkey and the Lord for “stubbornly resisting” Him, Balaam finally came through and did what was right. It would appear that he continued to struggle with whether to obey or disobey the Lord; otherwise, there would have been no reason for him to respond repeatedly to Balak’s requests that he curse the people. Also, even though Balaam blessed Israel verbally, he was later responsible for causing them to rebel against the Lord (Numbers 31:16; see 25:1-3; Revelation 2:14).

On the outside, Balaam was claiming to do what was right, but on the inside he was flirting with a desire to do what was wrong (see 2 Peter 2:15-16). The pressure point in this case was money, and the motive was greed.

There’s nothing new about that. When money enters the equation, principles come under pressure. The natural tendency is to opt for that which is comfortable, profitable, and popular. Sometimes the choice is between what’s comfortable and what’s right, what’s popular and what’s true, or what’s profitable and what’s good. The right choice is to opt for what is good and right and true.

Those in business must constantly scrutinize their inner motives and make these tough decisions. A torn heart may beat under a well-cut suit, but God knows the heart and examines the motives, and He is the one who passes judgment. Better to be poor and right than wrong and rich.

For further study: Numbers 22:4-41

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.