Rich Toward God

Editorial
| |
God owns every dime we earn, every lace in our personal shoe collection, every cell in our bodies.

In the March editorial we asked you, our readers, to tell us how to get the economy rolling again and get people back to work—but in a sustainable way. Specifically, how do we grow the economy without ruining God’s good creation in the process?

So many took us up on the challenge that we’ve devoted this issue of The Banner to sharing some of the thoughtful responses we received.

Probably the best place to begin this discussion is to pin down, first of all, who owns what.

Some argue that the individual owns his or her possessions, period—including natural resources and the means of production (capitalism). Others argue that society owns these things (socialism). Then there are those who take a mediating position between the two extremes.

Psalm 24:1 confesses, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” The whole shebang belongs to God: the environment, the means of production, our earnings, ourselves.

Living up to that reality requires a serious attitude adjustment, regardless of whether we believe it’s the individual, producers and business, or the government who should fix and run things. Since God owns it all, we need to care about what God cares about. We need to do with our work, our investments, our earnings, our possessions, and ourselves what God wants us to do with them. Jesus calls that being “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).

Scripture reveals at least three things God wants for—and from—us.

The first is that everyone, however “abled,” fulfills their calling by doing meaningful work: “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). Such work should not be restricted to paid employment. Many persons need help finding meaningful work, and it’s our communal responsibility to see that they are provided with the means to work.

The second is that all who work to capacity and those who are shut out from that opportunity through no fault of their own receive their portion of the wealth of God’s good earth, of which there is more than enough to go around. We need to provide for the dispossessed and get them back on their feet. We can argue about the best way to do that—through individual or organizational giving or through taxation and government programs. My guess is that we’ll need to keep doing so through both means—with government picking up on what is not being adequately done through other channels.

The third thing God cares about is the creation. We are mandated to enhance it, not to ruin or despoil it. That means working with, not against, the environment.

If these are all things that God really wants, then we can’t really be radical capitalists, socialists, centrists, or environmentalists.

When we confess that God owns every dime we earn, every lace in our personal shoe collection, and every cell in our bodies, our motivation to work stops being greed or envy or anxiety (see Luke 12:22ff.) and becomes love.

Regardless of what we have in savings, that makes us truly rich—toward each other and toward God.

About the Author

Bob De Moor is a retired Christian Reformed pastor living in Edmonton, Alta.

See comments (1)

Comments

I couldn't agree more with the content of this editorial. In many discussions people will say that individual property rights are essential for the economy and its growth. However, the Bible tells us in Deuteronomy 8:17-18; "You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today."

The Bible even gives us the rules how to the calculate the price for land (Lev.25:14-17) which is based on the number of years left till the Year of Jubilee for harvesting crops. How much more specific do we need to get that whatever we have, we don't own indefinitely. We are stewards of God's creation and whatever we have is His. Individual property rights are limited in time according to God's plan!

Like God reminded the Israelites in the Old Testament that they were slaves in Egypt and that He brought them out of Egypt and slavery, so we were slaves of darkness but set free through the sacrifice and blood of Jesus Christ. As God said to the Israelites He also tells us: "If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land." (Lev.26:3-5)

There is an abundance and great reward for following God's economic principles but we often think that we know better and what is best for us. Isn't that our sinful nature talking and the devil deceiving us? I hope and pray that we may be found righteous in God's eyes in how we handle and execute His economic plans.

X