About — April 12, 2022 (version 2)

I realized my plans for this website are likely to change several times as I do the research. So I’m saving all the old “About” pages as blog posts. This is version 2, but it’s still worth reading the previous version here. I won’t repeat everything, mostly just want to share a new potential outline. The previous outline was organized by different parts of the Bible for each section, but this version is organized around Biblical principles of stewardship.

Each principle draws from multiple parts of the Bible in the Old and New Testaments. I would like to find a small (less than 10) set of principles under which everything the Bible says about money and wealth can fit. I think that’s doable, but we’ll see. Here’s my first attempt at it:

Principle 1: Our king’s picture is not on the dollar
Principle 2: Your mission is not my mission
Principle 3: Give consistently
Principle 4: At least once in your life, give extravagantly
Principle 5: Be humble enough to receive
Principle 6: Invest money, don’t hoard it
Principle 7: God’s crash-proof financial system

Principle 1: Our king’s picture is not on the dollar

Jesus is a king, but one who is not of this world. When we follow the king who is not of this world our needs in this world and the next will be provided for. No one can have two masters, we cannot serve both God and money. The love of money is the root of all evil, yet money itself is not evil. Money is similar to that line about humility: “it’s not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” It’s not about having less money (necessarily), it’s about thinking less about money, and more about Jesus. As we do that he will take care of our needs.

Principle 2: Your mission is not my mission

Jesus called some to leave everything and follow him. Others he told to return to their home and tell people about him. The Bible has a number of examples of righteous people with power and wealth (David, Daniel, Joseph, early Christians who supported others) as well as righteous who were poor and mistreated (Jeremiah, Paul, Jesus himself). Others, like Job, went back and forth between wealth and poverty while remaining faithful to God. A corollary of this principle is that whatever your mission is, God will provide what you need to carry it out. For some that will mean owning a business and having some form of wealth, for others it will mean relying on others’ generosity. Each has its place.

Principle 3: Give consistently

Much of the Old and New Testament emphasizes consistent giving. The Israelites were instructed to give the firstfruits of their produce. Part of this went to support the Levites and Priests so they could focus on ministering to the spiritual needs of the people. The New Testament affirms that principle if not the exact amount that should be given. Those who have extra are also asked to share with those in need. The exhortation to give is so frequent that it’s hard to imagine someone with extra money could be a Christian and never give.

Principle 4: At least once in your life, give extravagantly

Some of Jesus’s greatest praise was reserved for people who gave extravagantly, for example, the woman with the jar of expensive perfume and the old woman who gave “all she had to live on.” Jesus himself followed up a life of consistent giving with the extravagant gift of his life. As in principle 2, this looks different for every person. We’ll look at examples of extravagant giving including the Tabernacle, the Temple, and the early believers who sold fields or houses to share with Christians in need.

Principle 5: Be humble enough to receive

Giving doesn’t work if everyone is too proud to receive. None of us has all that we need in ourselves. The Christian life is impossible to live alone with just me and God. Friends, family, and the church are communities of giving and receiving. Part of the reason we have weaknesses is so that we will learn to rely on one another. Even if you never need to receive money or financial help from others, don’t think that makes you above receiving any help at all.

Principle 6: Invest money, don’t hoard it

Most people probably aren’t going to give away everything they own. So what should we do with the money we don’t give? The Bible is clear that hoarding is not the way to go. Think of the parable of the guy who built bigger barns to “have many years of ease.” That very night his life was taken from him and others got what he had stored up. But if worldly “investing” looks suspiciously like hoarding, how can we manage our extra in a way that pleases God?

Principle 7: God’s crash-proof financial system

A number of Old Testament laws describe the economic and financial system God wanted Israel to follow. I believe those laws were chosen in order to prevent the two biggest dangers modern financial systems face: (i) asset booms and crashes and (ii) systemic and absurdly high inequality between rich and poor. We will look at the causes of these dangers and show how the Mosaic Law acts to prevent them. I doubt any nation will ever implement laws like this before Jesus comes back. But by looking into these economic principles we will gain some practical knowledge plus a greater appreciation for God’s wisdom.

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