Acts 5:1-4 says, “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession and kept back part of the price (his wife also being privy to it); and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” Today we will take a look at Biblical economics. While there is no perfect economic system in place on the earth (simply because men are involved), there are certainly economic systems that are more Biblical than others. Our job is to find out what the Bible says about economics – and then practice the system which best represents it. Let's get into the Word.
In the opening verses of Scripture, we see that Peter acknowledged Ananias owned property, he had the right to sell property, and he had the right to keep all the money from the sale of his property. We see in the eighth and tenth commandments (thou shalt not steal or covet) that God endorsed private property. We see in Isaiah 65:21-21, that in the Millennial Kingdom, all will inhabit the houses they built, and enjoy the works of their own hands. We see that God gave the descendants of Abraham the land of Israel as an “everlasting” possession (Gen 17:8). Under Mosaic law, we see (Ex 22:2-3) if someone breaks in to rob you at night, then you could kill him. If it's during the day, you can't kill him – but he must restore what he has stolen, even if he has to sell himself into slavery. Why do I say all of this? Because we must understand this to understand the difference between Socialism/Communism and Capitalism.
Socialism is an economic system based on the abolition of private ownership of the means of production. Communism is an economic system based on socialism, in which no classes exist and everyone works according to his ability and receives according to his need. This might sound good in theory, but it never works practically – and it never will. Karl Marx said, “The theory of Communist may be summed up in a single sentence: the abolition of private property.” Lenin said, “Communist society means that everything- the land and factories- is owned in common." Ludwig von Mises said under Socialism "It is no longer the consumers, but the government who decides what should be produced and in what quantity and quality." Why did I quote all this? Because it violates God's Word as seen in the previous paragraph.
Capitalism, also known as free market or free enterprise, is based on private ownership of the means of production. It's based on an individual owning and controlling his own property. Biblical economics is more about freedom, dignity, and justice than it is about money. It's about sowing and reaping. It's about seed time and harvest. It's about God blessing what you put your hand to. It's about “You don't work – you don't eat” (2Thess 3:10-12). It's about “If any man does not provide for his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1Tim 5:8).
You see, a man's rumbling tummy will cause him to get off his blessed assurance and go work (Prv 16:26). Under Socialism, the man who works is robbed by the central government of his reward through excessive taxes, and then his money is given to satisfy the belly of the sloth. Does this motivate the sloth to “work according to his ability?” No. It makes him worse. If he does anything at all, it will be to become a political activist, lobbying in favor of the party or system that will give him his free goodies. While the working man …... well, he's at work.
Socialism 101: Let’s say you are an A+, honor roll student. You work hard, study, sacrifice, stay up late, miss some “fun” times - but you are going to be Valedictorian. After four years of high school, the School Board tells you it’s not fair you are an A+ student, when there are so many D and F students. So, they are going to take points off your 4.0, and give them to the D and F students, so everyone - including you - will have a C. Now, everyone will be equal. Come on - isn’t that fair? To a Socialist - yes.
This is something Socialists just don't get: once you have punished productivity, squelched innovation, rewarded sloth, and taxed the producers into poverty – who is left to work and provide for the lazy? Hmmmmm. You see, in a Biblical system, according as you have sown will you reap (2Cor 9:6). Diligence is rewarded, slackness is not (Prv 10:4). Labor is rewarded, idle talk is not (Prv 14:23). It is the laborer, the producer, who is worthy of his wages (Lk 10:7). Government is not to play favorites with the rich or the poor (Lev 19:15). The Bible agrees that all men are equal before God and should be before the law. However, this does not mean all men are equal in gifting, talents, abilities, education, income, motivation, desire, etc. - and government is not to try and make it that way by force. That is called tyranny.
The Bible makes it clear that the truly poor – those who are totally not able to work – should be provided for by the free will offerings and benevolence of those who have an abundance (Ps 112, Eph 4:28, 1Tim 6:17-19), and relatives were to take the primary responsibility. Even in the Old Testament, while the producers were commanded to leave behind some food for the poor – the poor still had to work to get it! (Lev 19:9-10). This entitlement mentality is a cursed thing in our nation. Biblical principles of economics are what works. When we stray from God's way, destruction is at the door – as we see right now.
As Christians, we should work as unto the Lord, honor God with our firstfruits, and give free will offerings when possible. We must study and understand the Bible so that we may develop a Christian worldview, and pass it on to our children and grandchildren. Perhaps then one day, we can return to being a truly free nation once again. Until next time, rejoice in the Lord!