As a follow on to the last blog, I’d like to look at three specific questions that are contemporary topics of discussion. . .
A question often wrestled with is how one balances the Old Testament call to good stewardship of finance with the New Testament extreme examples? Consider from the New Testament:
- Mark 10:21-22 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
- Act 2:44-46 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts . . .
Remember that there are Scriptures that are general principles, which can be applied by all to good effect, and ones that are for that specific time or individual. For example, the rich young man who God called to give up everything – this is not a timeless principle for building a strong national economy. But there are thousands of Scriptures that do look at how to live righteously in the area of finance. Jesus was not looking at a national economy when talking to the rich man; He was looking at the heart motives.
Another question is: Are there enough natural resources for everyone?
Today, there is a “pie mentality” to wealth; everyone needs to wrestle to get their own piece of the pie and the pie has a fixed amount. BUT this is not Biblical for God is not limited (consider Genesis 1 & 2 and the command to “be fruitful and multiply . . .”). It can be seen that population builds the economy. A negative population growth negatively affects the community!
Application: Job creation for the poor is what is important to building an economy. It isn’t about building up our own wealth as individuals first and then giving to the poor but starting with them by giving them work opportunities. It is not a top down approach! God’s economy is bottom up!
Consider the question: what do the poor need (job-wise and purchase-wise)? To make the question more specific, here is an example: Do you start a Mercedes dealership where you make money and give it to the poor or do you start a bread shop where the poor can come to buy food daily and expand to have many chain-stores, providing food and jobs?
A final pairing of questions, which are often discussed: How should aid be given? Should it be given?
Aid in Scripture is only for the destitute. The destitute are those who would die without it, and die that day. Look at the Israelites in the wilderness – God daily provided them with manna; they could take what they needed for that day but that was it. However, as soon as they cross into the Promised Land the manna stoped because they no longer need it. When you give aid where it is not needed, you create dependency, laziness, and so forth.
The best, as seen in Scripture (God’s commands to the Israelites), is to help your brother get back onto their feet. We should all be looking out for the poor and destitute in our community but how we respond to each of them should look different.
Principles of aid:
- Stop aid as soon as possible
- Don’t make people dependent on it
- Provide ways for them to get out of their situation through their own work
I know there are probably many more areas of discussion surrounding the economy, but I hope that looking at these three has wet your appetite. Enjoy seeking answers for the rest of your questions in the pages of God’s Word.