Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What to make of wealth...

I took this past year to read several books on development (e.g. wealth and poverty of nations) and mainly those from an economic model background. I re-read Adam Smith's 1776 classic, "An Iquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of the Nations." I also re-read David Lande's excellent book, "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations". I then read a book recommended to me written by Barry Asmus and Wayne Grudem, "The Poverty of Nations."

In this last one, I ran across a chart cited from Lawrence Harrison (a purporter of socio-cultural causes for development/lack of development). It showed the standard measure of wealth (Gross Domestic Product or GDP) per major faith and religious backgrounds. The chart showed the following:

Religious Background to Culture of Nations Per Capita GDP (Annual)

1. Protestant - $29,784
2. Jewish - $19,320
3. Roman Catholic - $9,358
4. Orthodox - $7,045
5. Confucian - $6,691
6. Buddhist -  $4,813
7. Islamic - $3,142
8. Hindu - $2,390

What does this mean? Some would use this to show the wisdom and practicality of living life according to God's mandates thus resulting in His blessings. Others might be tempted to use this as an illustration that the prosperity gospel works. I think Harris (the original compiler of the info) would point to the social-cultural values (e.g. hard work, honesty, fairness, etc.) underlying Christian/Biblical teachings and their resulting effects on a particular group.

I think that we should look at it from a different angle. I propose that we don't look at it and try to dissect it to the point of prescribing a formula to wealth or blessings. While I do believe deeply that God's plan for life as revealed in His scriptures does carry subsequent blessings, I think the main point here is not how we got there (or tell other how to get to financial welfare) but what do we do with what God has blessed us with.

If God has blessed me (and He has a million times over) because I have committed my life to Him and His principles for life, the main question is, "what am I going to do with that blessing?"

Abraham in Genesis 12 was told that he was to be blessed by God and then that blessing, through him, would become a blessing to all the nations.

God' way and plan for life is by far the best. God's blessings on His children are amazing. But if that blessing stops with us, we miss the point.

Your thoughts?


  1. Our Christ ordained mandate with the wealth he has allowed a person to have who chooses to commit and follow Jesus is "go ye". Wealth is not only measured monetarily, it is measured by the values of the gifts God has placed in my care. A gift only has value when shared and placed into practice.

    Many people take a cautious approach to sharing the gifts God has given and many share freely. A gift given by God placed on a shelf becomes an idle. A gift shared yields riches for the giver and the recipient of the shared gift,

    1. Good word and reminder, Bill. Ironically, the parable of the "talents" in the NT has to do with material wealth but as you so well point out can also apply to all that we have - gifts, abilities, etc. The central truth here is that if Jesus is Lord of all, He is in fact that - Lord of all…all we have, are, do, etc. So every blessings - physical, financial, talent - is to be used for the sole purpose of honoring and glorifying Him. And the way we do this is to live in obedience and make His Name known among the nations. Good word!