Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Don't be evil."

Romans 1

"Don't be evil" is Google's unofficial motto. It is a nice little catch phrase that is easy to remember and supposed to bring reassurance to users of the Google products. Google has become pervasive in everything interwebs. There is a good chance that you use their mail service, search service, and calendar service. In fact if you are reading this you are using their blog hosting service. And the photo on this page...hosted by a Google product. There is a very good chance–assuming that you use the Internet with any regularity–that Google knows more about you than you know about yourself. So Google has this motto in order to assure you that even though they hold on to all this information that they won't do anything "evil" with it.

So imagine my surprise when I saw this headline:

"Con Artist Starred in Sting That Cost Google Millions"

So I read the first few lines of the article (because I don't have a WSJ subscription to read the whole article) and was shocked, shocked to find that evil might be going on here...

"Wearing leg irons and guarded by federal agents, David Whitaker posed as an agent for online drug dealers in dozens of recorded phone calls and email exchanges with Google sales executives, spending $200,000 in government money for ads selling narcotics, steroids and other controlled substances. 

 "Over four months in 2009, Mr. Whitaker, a federal prisoner and convicted con artist, was the lead actor in a government sting targeting Google Inc. that yielded one of the largest business forfeitures in U.S. history."

I don't recall hearing about the sting but apparently Google was caught taking ads for illegal prescription drug sales (among other things) from Canadian Pharmacies. There was even evidence that co-founder Larry Page knew that the ads were illegal but did nothing to stop them. Google admitted no wrong-doing but settled the case for $500 million. But the company is keeping the rest of the revenue from those illegal ads. Google gets to profit from facilitating the sales of illegal drugs. That sounds "evil."

We can have all of the mottos and mantras that we want about not doing evil or wrong. But the problem arrises when we do not have a stable foundation for those mottos. Paul tells us that our foundation of obedience comes through our faith in God.

"Through whom (Jesus Christ) we have received grace and apostleship to bring about obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations."

What is important is that the obedience brought about by faith is only brought about by an active faith. It is not merely agreeing with the main principles of the Christianity. Rather it is brought about when we seek after God on a daily basis. It is only then that we will be truely obedient to God. It doesn't mean that we will instantly be perfect. What it means is that we will continually attempt to become more obedient. It also means that when we do evil that we admit to it and make it right rather than profiting from it.


Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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