Summary: As we consider politics according to the Bible, we examine what the Bible has to say about the economy.
Years ago I came across the following somewhat humorous view of the economic policies of different political systems:
• In Communism, if you have two cows, the government takes both of them and gives you part of the milk.
• In Socialism, if you have two cows, the government takes one cow and gives it to your neighbor.
• In Fascism, if you have two cows, the government takes both cows and sells you the milk.
• In Nazism, if you have two cows, the government takes both cows, and then shoots you.
• In a Bureaucracy, if you have two cows, the government takes both cows, shoots one, milks the other, and then pours the milk down the drain.
• In Capitalism, if you have two cows, you sell one of them and buy a bull.
• In a Democracy, everyone has two cows, a vote is taken, and whatever the majority decides to do, you do, and that’s no bull!
We are currently in a series titled, “Politics According to the Bible.” We are examining key political issues that confront us today and what the Bible says regarding each political issue.
Today, as we continue in our series on “Politics According to the Bible” I want to examine the “Economy.” What does the Bible have to say about the economy? How should we think regarding the economy?
I would like to draw your attention to Acts 4:32-37. This is an important text, though it is often misunderstood.
Let us read Acts 4:32-37:
32Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:32-37)
Scanning the various polls on the Internet, it is clear that the most important issues in this election are federal spending and the economy. For example, Fox News has a poll that ranks the most important issues for 2012. Here is what they have in terms of votes:
• Federal Spending 5.5k
• Jobs & Economy 4.9k
• Government Regulation 3.8k
• National Security 3.2k
• Illegal Immigration 3.0k
• Health Care 2.7k
It is clear that the economy is, in the minds of the voters, a very important issue. Unemployment is still over 8%, and millions of people are struggling to make ends meet. In every area of the economy, people are finding it harder to make ends meet.
Some years ago, Henry Smith Leiper highlighted American affluence with some startling statistics. Even though these statistics are somewhat dated, I believe that they are still applicable.
Imagine that we could compress the world’s population into one town of 1,000 people, keeping the proportions right.
In this town there would be only 60 Americans. These 60 Americans would receive half the income of the entire town. They would have an average life expectancy of 70 years; the other 940 persons would have less than 40 years. The 60 Americans would own 15 times as much per person as all of their neighbors. They would eat 72 percent more than the maximum food requirements; many of the 940 other people would go to bed hungry every night.
Of 53 telephones in the town, Americans would have 28. The lowest income group among the Americans would be better off by far than the average of the other people in town. The 60 Americans and about 200 others representing Western Europe and a few classes in South America, Australia, and Japan would be relatively well-off. The other 75% would be poor.
Nevertheless, even though we are going through tough times now, America still has the greatest economy in the world.
So, as we consider politics according to the Bible, let us examine what the Bible says about the economy.
Let me use the following outline to guide us:
1. What does the Bible teach about work?
2. What does the Bible teach about private property?
3. What does the Bible teach about the poor?
I. What Does the Bible Teach about Work?
First, then, what does the Bible teach about work?