The Building of Wealth
“Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another,to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God” (Rom. 7:4).
One widely accepted myth in today’s culture, especially in secular academia and so-called “progressive” politics, is that wealthy people become rich at the expense of others and that large profits come through the exploitation of the poor and the middle-class. To be sure, some men and women have produced their wealth by oppressing or taking advantage of others. However, those who become rich often assist people of lesser means to generate wealth for themselves.
For example, prior to Henry Ford’s introduction of the assembly line to automobile manufacturing, cars were prohibitively expensive and few Americans owned them. Once Ford mass produced the automobile, the cost per vehicle plummeted and average citizens could buy cars for themselves. Ford earned a fortune, yet millions more also benefited. Think of the factory jobs created and the need for mechanics that followed in the wake of the Model-T. The widespread availability of the automobile also made travel easier, growing the tourism industry as well as enabling people to find better jobs in other places. In sum, the standard of living was raised for many.
If increased production lowers costs, and if lower costs enable people to raise their standard of living, then Christians should be the most productive of all people. After all, our Father cares about the physical welfare of humanity, and more people can be fed, clothed, and sheltered as the costs for these things are driven down. Moreover, today’s passage is one among many that tells us we have been redeemed to bear fruit for God (Rom. 7:4). This fruit is not merely spiritual in nature; the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22–23) manifests itself in the form of goods and services. As more money is raised, more can be given to missions. As more food is grown, more hungry people can be fed in Jesus’ name. Material productivity is inseparably tied to spiritual fruitfulness.
Economic theory tells us tools are the prerequisite for increased production, and tools can be purchased, maintained, and improved with surplus capital, or profit. Earning profit is not inherently evil, for excess money can do good things for the kingdom.
We must always be wary of the temptation to seek security in our wealth, for it is the fool who trusts in his riches (Prov. 11:28). Nevertheless, it is not inherently sinful to be wealthy or to make a profit. In fact, we should seek to be profitable and productive so that we may be able to better support the work of the kingdom. Take some time today to look at your personal budget and try to find ways to use more of your money for the sake of the Gospel.
Passages for Further Study
- Prov. 14:23–24
- Eccl. 5:18–20
- Matt. 25:14–30
- 3 John 5–8
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