Exodus 20 v 15 You shall not steal.
You will notice that the first four commandments deal with our relationship with God, the next three with our relationship with our family and the last three with property and our neighbour. God wants to impress on us that man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses – the most important thing is our relationship with God. Human nature reverses these priorities. A relationship with God is of very little importance to most people but properties and possessions are the opposite. We place great value upon them sometimes to the point of idolatry.
However, having made this point it must be said that God’s order for society includes the private ownership of property. The Bible is not against the accumulation of wealth which is acquired honestly; rich people are not condemned in the Bible merely because they are rich. If the rich are condemned it is because of the misuse of their riches or because of greed in their hearts. For instance, in Proverbs 13:11 we read, ‘Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labour will increase’.
Scripture, of course, is full of warnings for those who become proud with their wealth and forget God. In Deuteronomy 8:17-18 we read, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth’. You may get so rich that you sit down one day and look at it all and feel very self-satisfied. ‘But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.’
In Luke 12 we have the parable of the rich fool, God said, ‘You fool! This night your soul will be required of you’. Jesus wasn’t against the man being rich but rather He was opposed to the fact that the man did exactly what the scripture warns us against.
Scripture is full of warnings against those who are not generous with their wealth. Take, for example, the parable the Lord Jesus told of the rich man and the poor man in Luke 16. In this story the rich man did not go to hell because he was rich but because his heart did not belong to God and this was manifested by the way in which he treated the poor – he had no compassion.
In 2 Corinthians 9 we read a great deal about giving. In fact, even the poor need to give. We are urged to ask God to give us money so that we may give not keep for ourselves. The scripture does not condemn wealth or riches nor does it urge the principle of economic equality. What the Bible does commend is that everybody should have an equal opportunity to labour and to earn. Everybody should have an opportunity to become skilled and then, when employed, they should be paid fairly. The man who works hard will then be prudent with his wages and God will bless his hard labour.
In our economy today, many are not given the opportunity to work. This is a great tragedy. Let us commit ourselves to praying for those who have either lost their jobs or cannot find work, that God in his kindness will open doors for them. If you are an employer, can you squeeze in one more? Do it for Christ and His Kingdom.
Meditation: Please read Proverbs 13 v 27 & 28