Today we’re going to start with God’s economic ideology. God administrates a political kingdom and this kingdom has an economic ideology, just like our political systems. In a communist system for example property rights are vested in the State. The State controls the means of production. But in a capitalist system the individual has property rights. The means of production are vested in the individual. There are no private property rights in communism. A Christian must understand God’s economic ideology. A Christian businessman must familiarize himself with the mechanics of this ideology.
Now, some erroneously believe God’s economic ideology is socialism since it ostensibly seeks to equalize society. But the policy of equalization of society is not found in scriptures. There is no flat equality in scriptures. Rather scriptures recognize economic disequilibrium in society. It deals with it as a fact.
But everyone is given an OPPORTUNITY to prosper relative to his background, circumstances and capacities. The incidence often cited to support the notion of socialism as ideology of Christianity is the report in the book of Acts that the early disciples held things in common: “Now the company of believers was of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything which he possessed was exclusively his own, but everything they had was in common and for use of all…Nor was there a destitute or needy person among them, for as many as were owners of land or houses proceeded to sell them, and one by one brought the amount received from the sales and laid it at the feet of the apostles. Then distribution was made according as everyone had need.” (Acts 4: 32-35 AMP) One can appreciate why people often associate this communal arrangement with socialism because of a slogan popularized by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of Gotha Program, but was in fact first used by Louis Blanc in 1851: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” But the arrangement in the Book of Acts did not vitiate property rights. At best it is radical generosity and it existed side by side with property rights. The Bible for example records that Joseph Barnabas from Cyprus sold HIS property and brought the proceeds to the apostles. The people were not required to liquidate all their assets and put into a pool. And anyway the arrangement was a temporary fixture. It wasn’t permanent. It was nothing but voluntary liquidation of personal asset to support the work of the ministry. And it was against this backdrop that the unfortunate demise of Ananias and Sapphira is juxtaposed. Peter told Mr. Ananias, “Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished. So what got you to pull a trick like this?” (Acts 5:4 MSG) From this and other readings in scriptures we see that God’s economic ideology for his people is Progressive Capitalism. It rests on a tripod of individual endeavour, support for the work of the ministry, help to the disadvantaged in society.
The Abrahamic pedigree was a lineage of entrepreneurs. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were capitalists. Indeed the Bible says God set up the Israelites in business when they left Egypt. David let us into that fact in Psalm 68:7-10 (MSG): “God was on the march. Even Sinai trembled at the sight of God on the move, at the sight of Israel’s God. You pour out rain in buckets, O God; thorn and cactus became an oasis for your people to camp in and enjoy. YOU SET THEM UP IN BUSINESS; THEY WENT FROM RAGS TO RICHES.” So we do know God sets up people in business, and he’s still setting people up in business. And the Israelites became prosperous. So prosperous Moses had to give them a reminder or two: “If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did this all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!” – well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors – as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18 MSG) In other words, God promised Abraham he would make his descendants rich and successful, and he did! If the Israelites went from rags to riches it means God’s prosperity is transformational. Get ready for transformational prosperity. Your testimony will be that God took you from the dunghills of life to the rarefied echelons of society. God’s prosperity is always transformational.
God wants you to succeed: ”I pray for good fortune in everything you do, and for your good health–that your everyday affairs prosper, as well as your soul.” (3 John 1-4 MSG) God’s desire for us is good fortune and prosperity.
But why do we go through hard times before we attain success? The answer is found right there in the Book of Deuteronomy. Moses told the Israelites, “God gave you manna to eat in the wilderness…in order to give you a taste of the hard life, to test you so that you would be prepared to live well in the days ahead of you.” (Deuteronomy 8:16) In other words, hard times are training for the good life ahead. See your hard times differently!
Now let’s turn to Matthew 25. Matthew 25 is the ultimate business chapter in the Bible. It is divided into three parts – the first part is the Parable of the Virgins. It deals with the strategic thinking capacity of the entrepreneur. The second part is the Parable of Talents. It deals with capital allocation. The third part is the Parable of the Sheep and Goats. It deals with social responsibility. So we have a 3-part flow: strategic entrepreneurial thinking, capital allocation, social responsibility.
If you want to understand the concept of the kingdom of God you must study these parables as well as others. They’re called parables of the Kingdom.
The parable of the ten virgins is enunciated in Matthew 25:1-13. Five of the virgins are described as “smart” by Message Bible. The other five are described as “silly”. But the Amplified Bible was more evocative. It describes the first five virgins as “foolish, thoughtless, without forethought”; and the other five as “wise, sensible, intelligent and prudent.” The focus was the strategic thinking capacity of the virgins. Their actions were dictated by their thinking system.
As the story goes there was a wedding reception. And as is the custom in those days, a reception party awaited the night arrival of the groom. The smart virgins did contingency planning. They took extra oil. The silly ones made no provision for redundancy or contingency planning. They assumed everything would go perfectly according to projection. The smarter set assumed things may not go according to plan and made provision accordingly. It is to be noted that both sets had money to buy extra oil. This just shows that without thoughtfulness money can’t help you. Some people still fail in business despite all the means. If you don’t learn how to plan in business you will miss your strategic objectives. The difference between the two sets of virgins is in the thinking and the set of assumptions made. This parable of the virgins hinges on resource planning and risk analysis. Some have landed in police cells not because they’re crooks, but because they’re terrible businessmen operating on a dangerous set of assumptions. And some are so desperate to do a contract they will assume unreasonable risks. And that’s how testimonies become felonies. What assumptions are you making in your business? Always make provision for redundancy. The extra oil carried by the wise virgins was redundancy provision. Things don’t always go as planned in life or business. You must have fallback options. Or you have poor risk management skills. There’s always the risk the groom will come late. You have no control over his actions. Always make allowance for things beyond your control.
The business series continues next week.
If you’ll like to give your life to Christ please pray this prayer: “Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I know that I am a sinner. I believe Jesus died for me and that you raised him from the dead. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Christ is Lord and I receive him as my Lord and my Saviour. I am now born again. Amen.”
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