Jesus was clear about the futility of hoarding great wealth and avoiding greed. When a certain man asked Jesus to tell his brothers to give him his share of the family inheritance, Jesus cautioned the man about his attitudes.
…life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15
Jesus told a parable about a rich man who had a productive farm and built bigger barns to store all of his grain and goods…so he could relax and prop up his feet. Jesus spoke to the lesson of the parable as “being rich toward God”. A disciple of Jesus must not lose sight of the transitory nature of possessions. If one lives only to store up great amounts of wealth, this is vain and futile. There is a luring power of wealth, it is a warning not to be taken lightly.
Jesus also warned about the avoidance of greed. This too must be linked to the principles of capitalism. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for being “full of greed and self indulgence” (Matt. 23:25) and “lovers of money” (Luke 16:14). The parable of the sower point out how the deceitfulness of riches can make a person unable to respond to the will of God. The desire to become rich can cause one to veer off course and head in a direction ending in ruin.
At first glance these cautions concerning seeking wealth may seem drastically opposed to capitalism. It seems like capitalism encourages the pursuit of wealth and these warnings seem to discourage it. What gives? It is important to understand the truths of the New Testament must be understood in the framework laid down in the Old Testament. The New Testament does not eliminate the teachings of the Old Testament. Instead, it builds on the Old Testament. The Jews were already founded in capitalistic principles. They were industries. They believed God wanted them blessed. So in the New Testament we find cautions that help to navigate the dangers of the capitalistic lifestyle God taught the Hebrews in the Old Testament.
Harold Eberle describes it like driving a car. “We can compare capitalism to driving an automobile. A person may travel fast and great distances by driving a car, however if one is careless they can harm others or easily end up in a ditch. Similarly, application of capitalistic principles will greatly facilitate the accumulation of wealth, however there are dangers involved for self and others.”
I pray regularly for my character to grow so that I can handle the increase in resources the Lord is bringing.
Source: Compassionate Capitalism – A Judeo-Christian Value by Harold Eberle, 2010, Worldcast Publishing.