God and the Economy
When people think about improving their economic situation, they normally think about things like interest rates, debt loads, and cash on hand. They don’t often think about God.
But perhaps we should get more accustomed to using “God” and “economy” in the same sentence. After all, God, as the owner of all that exists, gives us some vital economic principles in His Word. Just consider a few of them from the ten commandments (Ex.20).
In the first commandment God tells us that we are to have no other gods before Him. Nothing is to come before God in our devotion. Those who honor and obey Him in this He causes to prosper, while those who forget Him are eventually brought to ruin (Dt.8:18-20).
Could it be that our prosperity is eroding because we have taken obedience to God lightly, and have come to see honoring Him as unnecessary?
The fourth commandment tells us that six days we are to labor and do all our work, but the seventh is to be a day of rest. Here you’ll find the first rule of economics: “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” God intends for us to work, by the sweat of our brow, as the means of accumulating wealth.
But there is also another principle here, and that is that each week we are to take a day of rest. In doing so, we honor God as the true source of all gain.
Today both of these principles are commonly violated. How many struggle financially because they have come to depend on others rather than work hard themselves? And how many work every day to find that God always seems to take away on Monday what is made on Sunday?
The eighth commandment directs us not to steal. In doing so, the Bible affirms the all-important right of private ownership. By having the right to call things our own, we have a motive to discipline ourselves, work, and save for the future – activities from which many benefit as people find themselves in a position to start businesses or give to those in need.
But as the right to private ownership is stripped away, the motive to labor is taken with it, and many suffer as a result.
Is this not what is happening today as the state continues to plunder its citizens through increasingly excessive taxation?
The tenth commandment says, “Thou shall not covet.” God wants us to trust Him and learn contentment in every circumstance. But a covetous man cannot contain himself. Instead of patiently working and saving, he does whatever he can to get what he covets – now.
Does this not explain how we as individuals and a nation have become so saddled with debt? Have we not become enslaved by our own covetous hearts?
In his classic The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith spoke of an “invisible hand” that grants prosperity. That hand, of course, is the hand of God.
Tinkering with interest rates and the like may have their place. But such activities are merely rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic if we do not first turn to the one who brings blessing by His invisible hand.