As we have been discussing God instilled certain restrictions on capitalism to protect his people from abuses and oppression. The Biblical principles of capitalism must be governed wisely and incorporate compassion.
Consider the Tithe – In the Hebrew world the tithe…giving ten percent to God…was at the core of their financial worldview. It was not considered to be generosity but a requirement to remind the tither that everything they had belongs to God. It was an act of surrender to God and honored his ruling of every area of their lives. I have blogged extensively on the tithe in the past so I will not spend much time on it here. Additionally people gave offerings to God after the ten percent, which expressed their joy of having relationship with God.
Care for the Needy – In the Hebrew world the widow, orphan and the poor were to be taken care of financially because as we have stated many times all people are created in the image of God so all life is to be respected and valued. This Hebrew view God gave was distinctive and divergent from the ancient pagan religions of the day, which offered not motives for charity. The Greeks taught it was disrespectful to associate with the poor and the Romans were brutal towards the needy. So the early Christians created a stark contrast with both of these worldviews.
God taught the Hebrews charity in many ways. In Deuteronomy (24:19-21) farmers were instructed to harvest their crops only once so the poor could come along and get what was left as financially destitute Ruth did in the field of Boaz. Leviticus (25:35-39) teaches the Hebrews to loan money to the poor without interest as a vehicle to help them get a new start. Additionally…The Hebrews believed God would bless financially those who helped those in need. Proverbs states:
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done. Proverbs 19:17
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:29
These Biblical restrictions to govern capitalism are so important we will spend another few blogs on them. When these restrictions are in place it creates what Rabbi Lapin calls “ethical capitalism” and Harold Eberle calls “compassionate capitalism”.