When the Communist system of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe collapsed in the 1990s, many thought the debate between Capitalism and Socialism was over. However, thirty years later, the issue continues to be present and divisive, as some nations of the world embrace the system again, while others walk away from it. Even in the US and Europe, we hear a new generation asking for socialist reforms, often in places that would never have considered before.
The View from the Bible
Do we really have to make an either-or choice between two opposing economical systems? As followers of Jesus and Biblical visionary leaders, we actually can (and must) develop a solid scriptural foundation for our dealing with our financial resources – whether we live under Capitalism or Socialism – and everything in between. The Bible actually gives us four truths about our relationship with money and material wealth that should inform how we deal with everything in life.
Everything we have belongs to God. In capitalism, material goods belong to individuals. In communism, everything belongs to the collective (actually the State). Both perceptions are wrong. The Bible states clearly that the entire planet and everything in it belongs to God (Psalm 24:1). As the creator and sustainer of all things, God is the actual owner of all we “possess,” including the material goods that we use in daily life and the means to acquire them.
We are put in charge of God’s creation. According to Scripture, material things are not at our full disposal to do as we wish. On the other hand, we are not simple pawns hoping for scraps from God’s table. The beauty of a biblical view of material goods is that we are actual administrators, put in charge of all of God’s creation for a good purpose. At creation, God gave the first human beings control and dominion over all of creation and we inherited that responsibility and privilege.
We are accountable for God’s trust. Of course, God wouldn’t put us in charge of His planet without requiring some accountability for it. We are responsible for growing God’s wealth through our own intelligent management of it. This includes the planet we live in, the material goods we receive from God, and even our very lives.
Stewardship is a learned skill. As with everything in life, good management is not a natural skill we are born with. God understands this and expects us to learn. He will entrust us with small amounts and responsibilities. As we learn to manage and grow God’s small amounts, He will trust us with larger responsibilities.
Whether you are materially rich or poor, all that you “have” belongs to God. He has greater expectations for those of us who have influence over others (leaders). We are not only called to be faithful managers of the resources He has entrusted to us, but also to teach others to do the same, setting the example and helping others become faithful managers of God’s abundant resources.