In order for the Christian today to apply the strengths of the principles of capitalism to their personal finances and experience God’s prosperity, it is important to note the negatives of capitalism and the Biblical safe guards. In the words of Harold Eberle capitalism must be “governed wisely” and the values of compassion must be included. The term “governed” makes us think of civil government but in actuality it is best if the individuals applying these principles govern themselves voluntarily.
As you might have read in previous blogs, God went to great lengths to teach the Hebrews to be self-governing. Hebrew government was built on law with the foundations being the Ten Commandments. So the safeguards for each individual to self-govern start with the first three commandments: worship the Lord and have no other God’s before Him, reverence him (no idols) and fear him (don’t take His name in vain). Only people who maintain an attitude of the Fear of the Lord will govern themselves properly as we find in Proverbs 9:10
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Simply stated, the individual who knows The Fear of the Lord, know they are accountable to God for every decision they make, financial or otherwise. So they will make decisions that are good for both them and for others…whether that is employees, customers, neighbors or family. Why? Because God created and loves all those people too. As the Christian lives in the Fear of the Lord they will be self-governing. Also their involvement in the local church and the relationships developed there; help to provide some real accountability for this governing of self.
Government intervention at even the highest levels cannot control sin, selfish ambition and rebellion. Self-government is best. But if individuals do not self govern, then civil government should step in, although this is far less effective. An example would be those incarcerated and languishing in prisons because they have not self-governed well.
Another safeguard to moderate capitalism is found in the fourth commandment. It is the principle of the Sabbath. For the Hebrews this looked like working six days each week tending his or her own garden. God worked six days and rested one, so we, created in the image of God, should do the same. This is a safeguard against workaholism, greed and putting work ahead of the family.
One day each week was totally set aside for God and family. Working to accumulating money is not the end or a person would work seven days a week. No…God is the end of all things. Though it is not always possible to have a Sabbath every Sunday, like for those of us who preach Sundays or work in healthcare, this becomes a principle we can honor on another day of the week. It keeps things in perspective.
To come in upcoming blogs…more safeguards as well as some examples of how capitalism is supposed to work.