Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Bible and Economics

Biblical Economics: In the constant struggle between competing economic policies, namely capitalism and socialism and their various relatives, one wonders how did God lead the Israelites? It appears that capitalism, rather than being a form of economics, is simply freedom. While that may seem simplistic to some, in essence what does one have where people can own things and share what they want without coercion or violence? One has at least a form of capitalism. People are free to raise their own resources, save them, spend them, fritter them away, or give them away. They are free to pay the wages of others to motivate them to help them be successful in their own business ventures. Workers are free to say no to a wage, or to agree.

Of course economics is much more involved than this but at its essence isn't freedom what God wanted His people to have and isn't that what this country was founded on?

Freedom from coercion and oppression

A. The exchange of goods should be free of oppression, coercion, or violence. - Free enterprise.

Lev 25:14 And if you sell anything to your neighbor, or buy from your neighbor's hand, you shall not oppress one another.

B. Poor should not be favored or oppressed in justice.

Exo 23:3 And you should not favor a poor man in his cause.

Exo 23:6 You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor

C. Poor should be provided for but they should work if possible.

Lev 19:10 you shall not gather the leavings of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor …. I am Jehovah your God.

Ignoring the poor is a sin.

Amo 5:12 For I know your many transgressions and your many sins. They afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate.

D. Justice should be blind to economics; Mercy should recognize need.

Lev 19:15 You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty.

Pro 19:17 He who has pity on the poor lends to Jehovah (Pro 14:31)

E. Sometimes the poor are poor because of their own sins.

Pro 14:23 In all labor there is gain, but the talk of the lips tends only to poverty.

Pro 21:17 He who loves pleasure shall be poor; he who loves wine and oil shall not be rich.

F. Some people champion the poor out of their own greed.

Joh 12:5 Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor? 6 He said this, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief and held the moneybag …

G. Work is good; it is how God expects you to provide for yourself. People should enjoy the fruits of their own labor.

Ecc 3:13every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God. (Ecc 2:24)

Eph 4:28 Let him who stole steal no more, but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, so that he may have something to give to him who needs.

1Th 4:11 and that you try earnestly … do your own business, and work with your own hands, …, 12 so that you may walk becomingly toward those outside, and that you may lack nothing.

2 Th 3:10 when we were with you, we commanded you this, that if anyone would not work, neither should he eat.

H. Both wealth and poverty has its problems.

Pro 30:8 … give me neither poverty nor riches; tear for me my portion of bread, 9. lest I be full and deceive, and say, Who is Jehovah? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and violate the name of my God.

New Testament:

A. Early Church shared without coercion, motivated by love.

Act 4:32 And the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul. And not one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own. But they had all things common. 33 And the apostles gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power. And great grace was on them all. 34 For neither was anyone needy among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 3 and they laid them down at the apostles' feet. And distribution was made to every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles which is, being translated, The son of consolation), a Levite, a Cypriot by race, 37 a field being his, selling it, he bore the proceeds and placed them at the apostles' feet.

The death of Annanias ans Sapphira was not related to holding back but to lying about it.

Act 5:1 And a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the price, his wife also knowing, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart for you to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own authority? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God.

B. Believers are free to use money as they see fit.

Rom 15:26 For it has pleased those of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

Jas 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their afflictions, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

C. Believers are expected take care of their own families. It is not up to the church (a social structure) to provide when family members could do so.

1Ti 5:16 If any believing man or believing woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be charged, so that it may relieve those who are widows indeed.

D. The employer has complete charge over his own money.
E. Employers and employees are free to contract with each other for wages.
F. What the worker deems as fair for himself is all that should concern him. The Employee is free to handle his money however he chooses.

Mat 20:1 For the kingdom of Heaven is like a man, a housemaster, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. 2 And when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius 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 he said to them, You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you. And they went. 5 And 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 said to them, Why do you stand here all day idle?
7 They said to him, Because no one has hired us. He said to them, You also go into the vineyard, and you shall receive whatever is right.
8 So when evening had come, the lord of the vineyard said to his steward, Call the laborers and pay them their wage, beginning from the last to the first. 9 And when they who were hired about the eleventh hour came, they each one received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would received more; and they also each one received a denarius. 11 And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, 12 saying, These last have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13 But he answered one of them and said, Friend, I do you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take yours, and go; I will give to this last one the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I want with my own? Is your eye evil because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last, for many are called, but few are chosen.

Simply because all of the laborers decided to acquire more of the vineyard owners wealth by force of their numbers does not make it right. It is stealing even if it is done by popular vote.


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