Biblical Economics, Part 6

Landon Vick taught our Biblical Economics Sunday School class yesterday on “Money: what it is and why we don’t have enough of it.” (Brad, write me a summary of parts 2, 3, and 5 and I’ll post them.) Landon started out with a history of money, based on R. C. Sproul Jr.’s chapter on money from Biblical Economics. The first form of transactions, bartering, became complicated when more than two individuals were involved, or if you didn’t have what other people wanted, or if you wanted what someone far away had. So eventually a representative type of money evolved: a clay tablet – 1 spear, then 15 beads = 1 clay tablet, and so forth. Eventually silver and gold became standard commodity currencies, and coinage occurred. Landon mentioned the year 1971 as the year America finally went off the gold standard, and our dollar bills became backed by nothing but the good faith of the U. S. government. This is called fiat currency. We weren’t able to get into this question in class, but many would argue that fiat currency is a very bad thing.

Landon emphasized the fact that money is not wealth. Yes, it does purchase goods and services that make us look wealthy, but wealth should be defined much more broadly, particularly as an ability to produce and a support network (family and friends).

Why don’t we have enough money? Landon gave six reasons:
1) We don’t save (see Proverbs 6:6-8; 21:5; 30:24);
2) We don’t budget (Prov. 24:3-4; Luke 14:28) or spend less than we make;
3) We don’t talk about money (like sex, the topic of what other people make is taboo; nor do we speak about money enough with our spouse or with a financial adviser, cf. Prov. 15:22);
4) We covet (James 4:1-3);
5) We don’t work (Prov. 10:4);
6) We seek contentment in money (Eccl. 5:10; Phil. 4:11-13; Mark 8:36; Heb. 13:5).

He concluded by reminding us that Americans (even poor Americans) live more comfortably than anyone else on the planet or in history. Money is not inherently evil (though the love of money is a root of all the evils, I Tim. 6:10), but it is a part of the world that we must engage since we live in the world. It is a gift and creation of God, but we must beware making money a god that we worship. There is a “both/and” balance that the Bible maintains between relying upon God for our daily bread and wisely saving for the future. We are not all called to sell all that we have and give it away to the poor, as Jesus commanded the rich young ruler – for note that He did not rebuke Zaccheus a few verses later for his resolve to give half of his possessions to the poor (“No, Zaccheus, didn’t you hear what I said to the rich young ruler? You have to give away all your possessions to the poor!”). We are called to provide for our own household (I Tim. 5:8), to refuse to fix our hope on the uncertainty of riches, to be generous and ready to share (I Tim. 6:17-18), and to pray Agur’s prayer: “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God” (Prov. 30:7-9).

Ezra and the Farmer


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