Economics from A Biblical Perspective

by Tommy Davis

When most people think of economics, they assume the Bible has little to say about it.  Truth would have it that economic terms are woven throughout Scripture.  The term “economics” stems from a Greek expression which literally means “house management.”   Thus, the usage of the word “economics” describes the fiscal management of resources one has been entrusted with, either in the home or an institution.  Identified in this light, we must conclude that the Bible has plenty to say about the proper controlling of assets.

The contemporary definition of economics does not square well with historic usage.  Many people seem to allow politicians to apply a different set of rules when it comes to managing the resources in our economy.   Citizens who accumulate debt and mismanage their monetary funds will incur disaster.  Since there may be no one to bail them out, they may end up foreclosing on a home, or have their car repossessed.  Wise citizens will decrease the amount of spending and encourage savings so that expenses would fall below income.  Politicians, however, disregard ancient wisdom and rely on the printing press and the raising of taxes to compensate for the mismanagement of the financial system.

All throughout Scripture when God sent a famine, it was in the scarcity of food.  Without this valuable resource, the rules of relationships and commerce changes.  When the famine hit the land of Egypt, the Bible records:  “There was no food in that entire region, for the famine was very severe” (Genesis 47:13). Joseph was second in command in Egypt; he collected all the money from the people “in exchange” for grain.  The famine was so severe that no additional food could be produced; this means that money was no longer a valuable resource because there was nothing to confirm its value (production).  Paper money is a “reflection” of wealth and a means to “exchange” valued resources.

Since money was no longer helpful, the Egyptians cried out to Pharaoh and Joseph:  “Give us bread, for why should we die in your presence?  For the money has failed” (Genesis 47:15).  Thus, no amount of money would relieve the people of the famine.  What mattered was the “production” of treasured resources; in this case, it was food (or Gross Domestic Product).  The people eventually agreed to sell themselves as slaves to the state in order to attempt survival.

The economic lesson is this:  if we discourage domestic production, no amount of cash will cure financial ills.  One way politicians discourage production is to implement all forms of expensive regulation which makes it difficult to run an honest business.  The raising of taxes to fund unnecessary entitlements shift valuable resources in artificial directions that raise prices and result in economic recessions.  Voters who elect politicians who “tax the rich” in an effort to “pay the poor” can only blame themselves for the minimal amount of jobs available and the high cost of goods on the market due to scarcity.  The Lord desires that every able-bodied person contribute to some form of “production” in our lives so that the paper we call money becomes a “certificate of performance” whereby we “exchange” valuable resources in good faith.  Anything other than that is called charity.

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