This is the second installemof a four part mini series. It sits atop the first wherein I built the case from the Scriptures that God established His kingdom in the first century AD and we are living in it now. We are working towards discipling the nations, teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded (Genesis 1 through Revelation 22) and we do this through the mindset or worldview of seeking first the kingdom (Matthew 6:33). Every kingdom is governed by a ruler, a sovereign. This sovereign determines the rules for day-to-day life within his kingdom, the law of the Kingdom. He determines good from evil in every context of faith and life (Genesis 3:5, Isaiah 45:5-10). In talk one I established for you that Christ is the new king, He is the sovereign who is seated on the position of power at the right hand of the Father. It is He who is ruling the nations of this world even now. And the kingdom of God is essentially the reign and rule of the Messiah over heaven and earth. And He will rule until all of His enemies are placed under His feat as a footstool. He reigns until His bride, the Church, has discipled the nations to the glory of the Father and in the power of the Spirit.
These few talks are aimed at giving you a Biblical framework to think and apply what Scripture says regarding economics. I can't tell you how to run your families. Neither is their a silver bullet. We have Scriptural commands, stories, wisdom literature, poetry that all help us deduce principles for a family life that glorifies God. No two families are identical. God did not use a cookie cutter. He was the first and penultimate creative. He has designed beauty and diversity. This reflects the Trinity, the One and the many. We have one Book, the Word of God and it is up to fathers to apply that book to the life of their little churches.
The sovereignty of God is an important issue. It is a watershed in Biblical theology. Christ is the sovereign Lord of all (Matthew 1:2, cf Isaiah 9:6; 2 Peter 1:1, cf Isaiah 44:6, John 1:1 & 1:14). He possesses all authority and power in heaven and on earth now (Matthew 28:18-20). He rules all peoples and nations of this world from the Father’s right hand (Hebrews 1:8-9, Psalm 2); and commands all men everywhere to repent of their sin (Mark 1:15), be baptised (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 16:31-33) and then be faithfully obedient to Him (John 14:15, 1 John 5:1-5). Jesus is sovereign over all. The earth and its fullness belongs to God. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He is the creator of heaven and earth (John 1:1,3, Colossians 1:16. Through the power of His Word all things were spoken into being ex-nihilo (Genesis 1:1, John 1:1,3); and thus by right He sovereignly and independently owns all things (Psalm 24:1-2, 1 Chronicles 29:14). If He was hungry He would not ask us for food (Psalm 50:12). Everything belongs to God and falls within His sovereign will. Nothing can happen outside of His sovereign will, not even the death of one of the tiniest birds is outside of the loving will of God.
Isaiah 46:9-10; “9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” God does as He pleases and no one can thwart His plans.
Daniel 4:35; “35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” Our Lord is sovereign over nations and rulers; and His will prevails in the affairs of all the nations.
Matthew 10:29-31; “29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows”. Even the smallest things in life are governed by the sovereignty of God and His will.
Ephesians 1:11; “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will…” Everything that happens and ever will happen is done in accordance with the will of God. Nothing escapes His sovereignty.
1 Kings 22: “19 And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. 21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him. 22 And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so. 23 Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee.” Even those things which bring destruction and confusion fall under the sovereign will of God.
Even the crucifixion of Jesus was predetermined by the the sovereign will of God. Acts 2:22-24; “22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”
Friends, Jesus established HIs kingdom in the first century and He is sovereign over all peoples, lands and nations.
So, how are we to live within the kingdom of God? Francis Schaffer asked: How Should We Then Live? It is a vital question, a good question. And it is important for us to assess how we even approach it. What is our standard for economic ethics? Our standard is better than the gold standard. As Psalm 19 (7-11) tells us “7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.It is the Law of God that we must use as the only standard for all of life. This includes our economic outlook.” God’s Law is our standard for all of faith and life; it alone ought to be the basis for our household or family economics. The Law of God gives us the objective moral foundation for all of life.
The debate over the validity of God’s Law in the New Testament times has raged for some time. We won’t end that debate today. But I want show you that all of God’s Word shows how the Law of God is valid and needs to be used appropriately in every age as the rule for all of faith and life.
Hear what Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:8-11; “we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” Paul tells us that “we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully” (v8). The Law was never intended to save us nor are the ceremonial laws directly applicable to us anymore. However we know that a lawful usage of the Law of God is good and indeed “according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God” (v 11). Thus, the rightful usage of the Law of God is a gospel issue.
I hope you are starting to see the big picture. The kingdom of God has been established here on earth with king Jesus ruling with all authority and power from the Father’s right hand. Anarchy does not reign in His kingdom. It is not every man for himself (Judges17:6, 21:25). We do not get to play God and determine/establish good and evil (Genesis 3:5). Rather the only rule for all of faith and life is the Scripture of the Old and New Testaments (2 Timothy 3:16-17). As children of the kingdom, as servants of the King, we are to live according to His precepts, commands and instructions (1 John 5:1-5).
Let’s look at one more passage quickly before we turn to economics specifically. Turn with me to 1 John 5:3; “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous…” John explicitly defines what the love of God is. He does not leave it up to what’s in our itty bitty hearts. Love is linked to faithful obedience (Luke 6:46, John 14:15). Love is mostly a verb, a doing word; and it can be objectively measured.
One point I need to emphasise here is that none of what I have said is a works righteousness or a works salvation theology. Let’s note what has been said carefully:
Jesus came and established the kingdom of God in the first century through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension;
Christ received all authority in heaven and on earth at His resurrection and is ruling the peoples and nations of this world from the Father’s right hand (Matthew 28:18-20);
Man can only see and then enter the kingdom of God once he has been born again or regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-6). Once man has been born again he is able and willing to repent, believe the gospel, and trust and obey Jesus as Lord, Saviour and King (Ephesians 2:8-11, 1 John 5:1-6).
Those who are born again and have entered the kingdom of God are to live lives of faithful obedience to the Law of God (1 John 5:1-5). Christian fruit is that which God loves, it is consistent with the Law-Word of God.
Understanding the sovereignty of God over all things and the ramification of the establishment of His kingdom here on earth lays a good solid foundation for talking about Biblical economics.
Biblical Family Economics 101 can be summed up like this:
God has established Himself as the sovereign Lord;
He owns the heavens and the earth;
He has delegated ownership (private property) to His trustees (us);
We are to apply His Law/Word to every area of faith and life;
Hard work and faithfulness builds wealth/capital for future generations.
Now that we have done some heavy lifting to lay a solid foundation we can see how sovereignty affects ownership. This has a profound impact on how we think about and approach economics. The story does not stop with God creating all things ex-nihilo in six days and then resting on the seventh. God made an image bearer in His likeness; man. The creation of man wasn’t simply one of God’s whims. He wasn’t sitting in the darkness finally though; “umm, let’s make a world and put man in it who will bear our image,hey!” From all eternity God planned to create the heavens and earth; and make man in His image and likeness with a grandiose mission. God’s image bearers were to go out into the world and glorify it or beautify it for God. Man was created by God to take dominion over all of creation. Genesis 1:27-28 states; “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” God entrusted the care of all things in His creation to man as trustees or stewards. Friends, this means that our vocations are important. They are full time gospel ministries. Everything we do must be shaped by our core purpose of “glorifying God and enjoying Him.” We must be good stewards of all the resources that God has graciously entrusted to us. We do not own anything in a primary or ultimate sense. Everything we own belongs to and is derived from God. We work hard in our vocation as stewards of what God has given us.
We are to take dominion over all things through seeking first the kingdom and discipling the nations in everything that Jesus has commanded. Our lives’ objective is tightly woven into the economics of God. He created all things and then entrusted them to man, His highest creation. God made all good and then told man to be fruitful, multiply and go out and transform His creation into something even better. Our central life purpose thus to be good image bearers in copying God by taking His Law/Word out into the world and transforming it into a place of beauty. A place where God is glorified, praised and worshipped. But our first parents failed at the first hurdle. Adam did not destroy the dragon, he succumbed to the talking snake. He rebelled and chose to live an autonomous life instead; one wherein man determines good and evil. Man chose to trust his own heart instead of the command of God.Thus everything fell into disrepair. But God kept pursuing His people. The sovereign creator God re-established His kingdom through the ultimate sacrifice of His only Son, the Second Adam. When God reclaimed planet earth He re-established the dominion mandate and commissioned the Body of Christ to go out and once again take dominion. The dominion mandate is restated to the church by Jesus in two ways in the Gospels: seek first the kingdom of God; and baptise the nations in the Word of God and teach them to obey everything that Jesus has commanded. Jesus, the sovereign God-man now owns all nations, all peoples and tribes as His inheritance. We are to make His rule and law manifest everywhere. Our Great Commission thus flows out of the sovereignty of God.
It is imperative for parents, especially fathers, to teach their children of the sovereignty of God, His ownership of all things, and that it is He who entrusts us with all that is in the world. We must instruct our children that all of our possessions belong to God and must be used to further His kingdom. No possession is to be viewed as insignificant. All we have has been graciously given to us by our loving Father and we must be faithful stewards. And at the same time we must be willing to sacrifice it all.
The sovereignty of God and His ownership of all things is the basis of the doctrine of private property. Private property in turn is the foundation for an economy to work well and be consistent with Scripture. Thus in history the distinguishing factor of all Christian nations has been the establishment and existence of private property laws within the economy. Where does this come from? The 7th commandment. "Thou shalt not steal" (Exodus 20:15) presupposes private property. If you can steal another man’s possessions then those possessions are privately owned. In other words what is mine is truly mine and what is yours is yours. Economies that do not recognise private property are not Biblical and historically have not thrived. Any economic system that discounts or does away with private property and ownership of possessions is essentially unbiblical. This means that all forms of communism, socialism, fascism and any other forced communal ownership system is essentially evil in the sight of God. Free markets wherein private property is legally recognised and enforced by the civil magistrate are key markers for a Biblical economy. So, as Christians we must believe in private property and ownership over against forced communal ownership. And we all know what communal ownership really means. It means a select few get to reap the rewards of the labour of the majority. Communist, socialist and fascist governments the world over steal from their citizens to feather their own nests. This is not only wrong, it is sinful in the sight of God. Our economic system should promote private property and ownership. Private property is the basis for long term economic growth and the reduction in poverty.
The concept of private property brings an interesting perspective into family life. When your son comes to you and says that so and so has taken his truck and that he wants it back, we have an economics lesson at hand. The 7th commandment says “thou shall not steal.” If so and so forcefully took your son’s truck then it is theft and we should not discount his appeal to your authority. What is his is truly his private property, no if or buts. He gets to decide whom to share his possessions with. So, understand the economics lesson that your son is giving you without discounting him as being selfish straight up. It is important for us as parents to recognise private property and instil its importance in our children. Yes, we must also teach Johnny to share and play well and not be a talebearer. But we must also not forget the 7th commandment. Parents it is vital for us to instil a love for the private property in our children. It is something that we must demand in our families and fight for in our communities. Private property is the foundation of Christian economics.
The Free Market
The free market is another essential aspect of Biblical economics. The disciplined allocation of scarce resources is important in our consideration of Biblical family economics. The ability for to freely allocate their resources and contract freely with each other is another economic bedrock that creates wealthy families, communities and nations. In Matthew 20 God establishes that all individuals have the right to freely contract or trade with each other. A man ought to be able to do with his own possessions whatever he wishes. Individuals ought to be free to contract for employment with each other and negotiate agreed wages and terms. The Bible gives both employer and employee responsibilities in this regard (see James 5:4 & Ephesians 6:5-9). Civil governments and other parties should not have the authority to enforce conditions to private contracts between individuals. In fact the very mark of the beast is that he intrudes into the market place, restricts trade and tells people under what conditions they can trade (Revelation 13:17).
The free market is established in Matthew 20; “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. 8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”
Man is free to do with his possession as he sees fit. This is an important lesson in Biblical freedom that we need to teach our children. Our possessions belong to God, they are truly ours and we can do with them was we please. As Christians we are to seek first the Kingdom of God in all things; even the way in which we allocate scarce resources of time, money, possessions.
The goodness and pitfalls of wealth
So what then of wealth. Wealth is not sinful. Matter is not gross. Corrupted and fallen man using matter unlawfully is sinful. Man can and does sin in loving money but this does not mean that wealth is in and of itself evil. Wealth is to be considered the blessing of God. It is not something to be despised. Yet, it is also a temptation and a snare. God uses wealth to test the hearts of people; to assess whether they trust in their own strength or that they know that everything comes from the hand of God.
The Word of God has a lot to say about riches, wealth and affluence. Family economics is central to the way we live as Christians. The etymologically economics is stewardship or household law. The Greek word oikonomia is what we translate as economy. You can hear the English word in the Greek. Economics or economy literally means “house-law" or the “rule of the house” or “household management.” Biblical economy is essentially the management or stewardship of a household, per the laws of God. Economics means stewardship; and the steward was the manager of a household. The steward ruled over and managed the owner’s possessions. Stewards must be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2) and they will be held accountable for their actions. It is important to understand that economics primarily sits in the realm of families and households, not high flying bankers or economists or even financial advisers. Economics is fundamentally the stewardship of those things which ultimately belong to God. Now you should see why I have spent so much time building the Scriptural case for the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth, the sovereignty of Christ and the rule of His Law. Fundamentally, economics is how we use the resources that God has graciously given us.
Biblical economics deals with the law of God’s household. As Christians we must be interested in economics because all of us are stewards; all of us own things that belong to God. All of us have been entrusted as trustees or stewards with the wealth of God’s creation and our individual abilities. All of our wealth belongs to and comes from the hand of God. On the day of judgment we will give an account of our stewardship over those abilities and financial resources that He has entrusted to us. What have we done with what He has given us? Have we squandered our money? Have we used it for pure slothful entertainment? Or have we sought first the kingdom of God with our wealth and abilities?
The Protestant Reformation recovered the very important doctrine of individual calling. Every individual has a God ordained calling. Unfortunately our modern Christian understanding of calling is usually limited to the preaching ministry. This could not be further from the truth. Calling is vocation. God call calls every one of us to use our gifts and talents to further His Kingdom. Every Christian is thus in full time ministry. God has called some people to be stay home mums, some to be businessmen, others engineers, some farmers and others salesmen. He calls people to all sorts of tasks within His kingdom. Each calling is a vocation. When God calls you He is giving you a vocation or job to do in His Kingdom. God has entrusted certain things to you in your vocation; and He seeks for you to improve your outward estate. This called wealth.
But God has given some dire warnings about trusting in wealth, it is a great danger, but at the same time He wants us to strive to increase our wealth:
Wealth is good, it is not inherently wrong. The primary example of faith in the Bible is Abraham. We are the seed of Abraham and Paul tells us to walk in the footsteps of father Abraham. The book of Genesis is explicit that Abraham was a very wealthy man (Genesis 13:2). He had property, livestock, servants, means of exchange (gold & silver). He was affluent. Wealth is not dirty. When we obey God He says there will be outward benefits.
The 28th chapter of Deuteronomy is full of promises of wealth and other blessings due to faithful covenant obedience to the Law of God. Friends, wealth should be respected and not scorned. We should honour those who have done well and gotten ahead in a godly manner. Proverbs 12:9 “he that is despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.” We should respect that a person has done well. However, we should not be covetous. And it certainly does not mean we give the rich preference over the poor. We do not favour the one with wealth due to him being rich. Proverbs 22:2; “The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.” But wealth is not dirty nor unclean; it is good and through obedience it is the blessing of God.
Invest for increase
In the parable of the talents the faithful servants or stewards are those that invest the master’s money and make an increase. They are rewarded with further wealth or blessing. The steward who buries the talent refused to seek an increase on his master’s possession and was judged as an unfaithful steward. What wealth he had was taken away from him. Matthew 25:14-30; “14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
We should be encouraged to add to our outward wealth or estate in a faithful manner. Encourage your children to work diligently, hard and most of all in faithful obedience to God. And make sure that there is economic reward for their work. God operates in a covenantal fashion wherein there are rewards for faithfulness and curses for unfaithfullness (Deut 28). This covenantal structure and concept is vital for home life. If you want to teach a Biblical view of wealth creation to your children show and teach them that faithful obedience to God’s Law leads to an increase, whereas unfaithfulness leads to a decrease (Deut 28). This does not mean that every task is a paid task but encourage your children to work for profit or wealth increase in a manner that pleases God. Your household law ought to have rewards for obedience & thrift; with punishment for disobedience and slothfulness.
Even though wealth is good and we should seek to increase our outward estate there are also pitfalls. It is also a very great danger. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus warned that ; “no man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” In Matthew 19:24 Jesus went on to say that; “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” The Eye of the Needle was a particular gate for entrance into Jerusalem. The gates to the city were closed early and anyone who arrived late would need to disembark their camels and go through the Eye of the Needle to enter the city. The camels had to be unloaded and would hobble on their knees through. It was very hard for a loaded camel to go through the gate. In the same way it is hard for a man who has many possessions to enter the kingdom of God. Possessions might easily keep you from the Kingdom of God, possessions are a great danger. Jesus warns in the parable of the sower, Luke 8:14; “and that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.” Choking can take place because of riches in this world. Riches can be used for so many good and godly things.
But here’s the issue: people tend to make riches the goal and end in and of itself. When we do this riches can help us to forget God. The living of the Christian life is difficult when wealthy.
Listen to the warnings God gives of wealth accumulation in Deuteronomy 8:11-20; “11 Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: 12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; 13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; 14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; 16 Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; 17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. 18 But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. 19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. 20 As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.” God says beware, be on the alert. When your outward wealth increases you will have the tendency to forget God. You will be tempted to say in your heart “my power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth” and rebel against the ultimate owner and giver of your wealth. When you have attained wealth you will be in danger of claiming that all has come from your sweat and hard work.
So, wealth is good. We ought to seek to increase our outward estate. However, there are also dire warnings of the pitfalls of wealth. When we become wealthy there are new temptations. In all of this our national and family’s primary economic goal ought to be increasing the wealth pie, not redistributing other people's money (stealing) and hence simply cutting the pie into smaller pieces. This means encouraging our children to be income or wealth generators not mere shifters of wealth from Dad and Mum to them. This means encouraging all godly forms of entrepreneurialism. And we are to instil in our children that we as a family are to use our wealth to further the advance of the Kingdom of God. Three final warnings regarding wealth acquisition.
Wealth through diligent work
Godly wealth is ordinarily the result of diligent work or labor often over the long term. Gary North rightly tells us that “diligent labor produces wealth as a sign of God’s blessing; sloth is ethically repulsive; judicious attention to one’s calling is required (Proverbs 27:23-24). Plenteousness is promised to the obedient, so long as they persist in their attempt to satisfy God’s standards.” There are hordes of passages such as Proverbs 20:4; “4 The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.” We should not seek to gain wealth the easy way. I will touch on this in the next talk on work.
Secondly, gaining quick or ungodly wealth is not the objective We are to plan and work for long term intergenerational wealth, old money. Proverbs 20:21 states; “An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.” Do not believe nor install in you children that wealth ought to be gained in a hurry. Rather godly wealth is the result of God’s covenantal blessing of obedience to His Word and calling on your life. This is vastly different to the repugnant prosperity gospel that teaches wealth is one of the auto blessings from the genie in a bottle.
Finally, to all you men. God warns about over working. Yes, we are to work hard. This ought to be the standard or law in our households. However, there is the danger of over working to be rich. Discipling your children when they are young must be important to you and take precedence. ”4 Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! 5 Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven." Proverbs 23:4-5
Multi generational stewardship
In conclusion Proverbs 13:22 tells us that “a good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the righteous.” The attitude of not wanting to leave an inheritance for your children is an ungodly one. There are so many grey nomads in Australia (and I’m sure in NZ too) who are travelling around the country and world spending kids inheritance. This is totally sinful. I’m not saying grandparents shouldn’t travel or have fun. But those who purposely seek to spend every last cent of their children’s inheritance are not being godly. Yes, our children should grow up and learn to make their own wealth. But we the godly thing to do is to build up your estate to provide an inheritance to not only your children but also your grandchildren. In fact Proverbs 13:22 is telling us that creating wealth in a godly manner is spiritual. And friends, you cannot do this if you are a bad steward who mis-manages the possessions entrusted to you. By necessity Biblical stewardship must have a multi generational outlook. We are to be wise stewards who seek to leave an inheritance for our grandchildren. A good man increases his outward estate to leave wealth for future generations to use in advancing the kingdom even further. This must impress upon us the importance to instil the idea of old money in our children. We want to save capital to do our work more efficiently and we want to save to allow future Christians the opportunity to stand on our shoulders. Our goal should be for our children and grandchildren to start their lives free of debt. God is interested in us being good stewards and building up inter-generational wealth. Why? So that the gospel can go out. Gospel work needs funding not deep long-term inter generational debt.
The gospel message is about God redeeming the world. Jesus pays the ultimate price, His blood, for the redemption of His people. At it’s heart the gospel is a transaction within the God head. The Father’s justice and love need to be satisfied; the Son pays the price by laying down His life; and the Spirit applies the redemption purchased by Christ to His people. The heart of the gospel is an economic transaction. And the gospel of the kingdom demands all of the people of God to apply His Law to the rule of their households. You cannot glorify God by hating His Law. Love of Christ is essentially faithful obedience to His revealed Word-Law in all of faith and life.
Find the whole series of articles here: http://www.reformedresources.com.au/index.php/component/tags/tag/55-biblicaleconomics-101
Trevlyn McCallum presented this mini-series on Biblical Family Economics at a home education conference in Palmerston North New Zealand, 6-7 November 2015.
- The gospel of the kingdom
- The gospel and wealth
- The gospel and work
- The gospel and family economics
The audio for this mini series is available for free below. It is an introduction to Biblical Economics that gives you the Biblical worldview framework to examine your household rule or stewardship.