I. Economy Defined
It would seem that the subject of economy is one of global focus at this point within time and probably for good reason. Economy has a spiritual side in addition to a material and we know them to be related, however as in all things the greater regard is often given to that of the temporal. The world’s economy was given to it by its Creator in a perfect environ consisting of a perfect home with perfect relationships and will end in complete and eternal failure. It is likely that we are on the very brink of that destruction, but there is a knowledge and hope of an eternally perfect economy accessible to whosoever will come and be a part of His program of which we are at the precipice as well.
A. The Word
The English words "economy" and "economics" can be traced back to the Greek words οἰκονόμος (i.e. "one who manages a household", a composite word derived from οἴκος ("house") and νέμω ("manage; distribute")) and οἰκονομία ("household management"). (wikipedia.org)
Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language states that:
Economy is “primarily the management, regulation and government of a family or the concerns of a household…concerns or the expenditure of money…management which expends money to advantage, and incurs no waste; frugality in the necessary expenditure of money…includes also a prudent management of all the means by which property is saved or accumulated; a judicious application of time, of labor, and of the instruments of labor”.
Parsimony might be an antonym for the word. Parsimony “implies an improper saving of expense…it denotes an excessive caution or closeness; in which case it is allied to covetousness”. (Noah Webster)
We see then that economy has its base in the home but moves out from its place of origin having impacts upon society that could be defined in the secular sense as follows:
“An economy consists of the economic systems of a country or other area; the labor, capital, and land resources; and the manufacturing, production, trade, distribution, and consumption of goods and services of that area.”
A given economy is the result of a process that involves its technological evolution, history and social organization, as well as its geography, natural resource endowment, and ecology, as main factors. These factors give context, content, and set the conditions and parameters in which an economy functions.
A market based economy may be described as a spatially limited social network where goods and services are freely produced and exchanged according to demand and supply between participants (economic agents) by barter or a medium of exchange with a credit or debit value accepted within the network. Capital and labor can move freely across places, industries and firms in search of higher profits, dividends, interest, compensations and benefits. Rent on land allocates this generally fixed resource among competing users.
Contemporary Capitalism is a market economy in which most of the production capacity is owned and directed by the private sector. Government role is limited to provide for defense and internal security; administer justice and prisons; make laws and regulations; enforce contracts, laws and regulations; correct market imperfections and failures; ensure full employment without inflation; promote balance economic growth and development; provide for the poor, children, and elderly; protect and assist in emergencies and natural disasters; provide basic opportunities to all members of society; prevent future calamities and disasters; and, pursue national goals established by society at large such as protection of the environment and natural resources.
On the other hand, traditional socialism is a command-based economy in which markets and the free exchange of goods and services, as well as manufacturing, production, trade and distribution are replaced or done by government central planning and state owned enterprises. In this economy all private owners of capital (called capitalist) and of land (called landowners) are not allowed or banned; and the only permitted private ownership is of consumption goods. Capital and land are assigned by the state and movement of labor is severely restricted. There are no profits, dividends, interest or rent. Labor compensation and benefits are decided by central planners.
“Finally, a mixed economy contains elements of both capitalism and socialism which means a market based economy with a varied degree of government central planning and state owned enterprises.” (wikipedia.org)
Ultimately, positively effective economy is the Lord’s program for the frugal management of all resources both temporal and eternal according to His will and according to His understanding which is above our comprehension seeing as He is the only Just Judge sending His rain upon the just and unjust.
B. God is in control
It has been accurately observed that “an economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today”. (Laurence J. PeterI learned more about the economy from one South Dakota dust storm that I did in all my years of college”. (Hubert Humphrey)
Of all of the factors that may affect economy the Lord regulates them all:
“The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”
First Kings 17:1
“And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”
“There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
“Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”
C. Personal Economy
The Goal again in our economy is that we be focused on the Lord’s personal leading in our lives. It is not a sin to be poor, or to be rich in the material state as both are used of the Lord, but there are considerations to be given to both.
Material wealth can be a burden:
“Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.”
“And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 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. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.”
First Timothy 6:6-11
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”
Wrongful desire for material gain is destructive:
Second Peter 2:15
“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;”
“And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak?”
Second Kings 5:15-6:1
“And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing. And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way. But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him. So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well? And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments. And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him. And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed. But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither. And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.”
Beware of the promise of material things by human beings:
“Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times. Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight.”
“And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:”
It is best to earn your way and fitting to be compensated for our labors.
“And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.”
“10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”
The Bible teaches us that we should be focused on giving and not focused on gain (First Corinthians 9, Second Corinthians. 9)
“The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends. He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.”
1. Prayer and God’s Economy
As in all things the outcome of our efforts is a result of God’s provision rather than the power of our flesh and this is impacted by our communication with Him. We must have a personal relationship with the Lord in order to successfully communicate with Him. Failure in economic affairs is often a result of failure in communicating with the Lord.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
2. God’s Word and His Economy
It is not possible to do what the Lord tells us if we have not heard Him. Knowledge of, faith in, and obedience to God’s Word are a requirement for a successful personal economy.
“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
II. Economy and the Home
Economy is first personal, then a family matter, which in turn becomes a societal circumstance.
“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”
“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.”
“In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.”
First Timothy 3:1-5
“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)”
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
III. Economy and Society
If we are in right relation with the Lord we will serve others in the right sense rather than be bound by others in a way that hinders our service to the Lord or hinders others in their ability to serve the Lord. We will not willingly become owned by our enemies. Samson exampled the frustrations that come from attempting to work with those who do not know the Lord in Judges 14, whereas Moses and Israel benefited economically from Egypt when they came out from them (Exodus 3:22, 11:2, 33:6) We ought not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”
“And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives. Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do.”
“All these had taken strange wives: and some of them had wives by whom they had children.”
“And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase. I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God. And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubile: And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return. For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen. Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God. Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.”
IV. Economy and Forgiveness
The Bible tells us how to repair a broken economy in Leviticus 25: forgiveness. Jubile in the Hebrew is an onomatopoetic word meaning a joyful sound. That is what results when we are forgiven and burdens are released: joy. Debts were forgiven, slaves were freed, property was returned every fifty years. This is a good reason not to willfully become a debtor to your enemy: they will not forgive.
God’s economy in this world centers on forgiveness and thus centers on Jesus Christ. Because of sin the world’s economy is broken. Our personal relationship with God is broken, homes are broken, societal relationships are broken. The only cure is forgiveness and forgiveness only comes through the LORD by the confession of our sin; receiving Him Who knows no sin as our Saviour.
First John 1:8-10
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
There is, however; a deadline for this economic recovery program:
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”
“And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Copyright; 2012 by Charles
F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved