“The earth is the Lord’s…” (Psalm 24:1)
In the early centuries of man’s history, neither metal nor paper money existed. Therefore, simply trading goods and services became the normal way for meeting a family’s needs. Slowly copper, silver, and gold were each discovered and utilized. Copper was the oldest metal dating back to about 9,000 BC and the first coins began to be used in about 5,000 BC. Some of the oldest forged coins have been found in China.
It will be important for future generations to understand that the natural free market financial process now known as capitalism, had its earliest Western roots in the Middle East. Much later, it advanced widely to other parts of the world. This happened especially rapidly following the Protestant Reformation. The reformers understood and taught the scriptural principle that everything belongs to God. For that reason, during the new era of Bible-reading Christians, it became normal for believers to understand that all finances were and will always be His. This explains why His financial resources are to be utilized, enjoyed, and given in compliance with His will.
God’s sovereign ownership is the spiritual foundation on which all earthly human stewardship securely rests. The Bible explains that “The earth is the Lord’s, and all that it contains…” (Psalm 24:1)
In stark contrast with God’s continued ownership and oversite of all that He created; state-centered socialism has never claimed to be a Biblically motivated economic system. Like Communism, it has always operated with an intentional secular agenda. This is definitely understandable because the movement’s best-known thinker and social architect was Karl Marx – who was an ardently Atheistic humanist.
Before Marx, early socialism was born in the violence of the French Revolution, so its often radical political upheavals have sadly reflected its turbulent origin. Socialism must never therefore be confused with the peaceful freely chosen generosity experienced by the early believers in the first century’s rapidly growing Christian communities (see Acts 4:32-35).
It has always been considered wise for Christians to live – debt free, spiritually fulfilled, and financially generous out of their love for God. That reality can easily be observed in the many thriving communities that have long benefited from the protestant work ethic and its well-known generosity. The Reformation encouraged such Christ-centered thinking, productivity, and giving in the daily lives of all born again believers. As an example, Christian churches were and still are expected to look after the pressing needs of their widows and orphans (see James 1:27). Nowhere in Scripture was this type of watch-care taught to be the responsibility of a government. Each local church and individual believer share equally in this spiritual opportunity for ministry.
The writer of Proverbs 31 describes a Godly woman’s faith and finances by saying, “…she has no lack of gain…willingly works with her hands…considers a field and buys it; and from her profits she plants a vineyard…she perceives that merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night…she reaches out her hand to the needy…” (Proverbs 31:11-20) This is how God actually designed our lives to accomplish His will (see Philippians 2:13).
Concerning our many natural human needs, the Bible teaches, “Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) Additionally, the Psalmist assures us by saying, “I have been young, and now I am old; but I have never seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants begging for bread.” (Psalm 37:25)
The Bible simply teaches us to look to God rather than any other source for our physical requirements (see Matthew 6:11). Heaven’s highly dependable financial provision is based on faith, prayer, honesty, hard work, and God’s all-knowing love for us! The Bible explains, “… your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8) God’s love, our faith, and His provision all work together in perfect harmony. Our part is to simply listen, obey, and be diligent. Remember the little ants (see Proverbs 30:25).
Because the Bible, ethics, and civics are largely neglected in today’s public education, students in our generation are no longer privileged to understand the powerful impact that Christianity and the Ten Commandments have made on the world’s – legal systems, arts, ethics, morality, and economics. Unless succeeding generations attend good Bible-believing churches and are also taught at home, then their social environment will steadily decline toward pagan pre-Christian spiritual darkness! (see Romans 12:2) We must be diligent and always remember the Lord’s searching question, “… when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)
In the financial world, free markets operate through personal initiative and astute national planning. This long-proven economic process is critical to the free world’s future success. Sadly, many of today’s Christian youth are unknowingly being taught highly ineffective and temporary state-centered values rather than God’s faith based spiritual values (see Mark 8:36). This is happening without students ever even realizing what they are missing! Christian families must therefore help today’s students understand the significant difference between Kingdom-centered thinking regarding both personal and national finances and all state-centered forms of financial ownership.
Historically, state provided income that was not earned but simply received at the expense of other workers has frequently produced– dependence, laziness, greed, and low self-esteem. In contrast, the daily work, independence, honesty, and personal responsibility that is taught in Scripture produces lasting – fulfillment! The Bible unapologetically states, “…If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) Generous personal giving from heaven’s resources performed under the Holy Spirit’s leadership – results in joy, gratitude, and self-respect (see 2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
The time-tested market driven approach to finances which is currently called Capitalism came about very slowly and naturally. This is understandable because in recent centuries the world’s emerging Western thinking following the Reformation focused on personal freedom, order, and stewardship rather than dependence on any government. The Bible affirms living by faith when saying, “…my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
In summary, Socialism had its early roots in the violence of the French Revolution, and it declined into Communism which has been the enemy of Christianity in every nation where it has been imposed on freedom loving people. God’s teaching on the other hand has always been Kingdom centered and has never been state centered, so Christians are to enjoy living by faith!
By Billie Hanks Jr.