There’s been so much in the news lately about the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that I thought it would be helpful to try to bring some perspective.
First, I am exceedingly thankful we live in a country where there is freedom of speech. It’s a precious birthright in our nation that’s not possible in many places in the world today. I’m grateful the occupiers and all Americans have the freedom to assemble and to peacefully communicate their concerns.
Second, with the stubbornly high unemployment and underemployment rates, I can understand the frustration that so many of our citizens feel. It can be scary to be out of work with a family depending upon you to meet their needs. A natural reaction is to look for someone to blame—whether it be big government or big business.
Third, I believe that capitalism has the best potential of being the best economic system in the world because it fosters individual entrepreneurism. The financial back bone of our country is small business. Millions of our citizens have had the courage to start small businesses because that is the DNA of our country.
But for capitalism to actually be the best economic system, it must be what I call compassionate capitalism. And the only way to foster compassionate capitalism is when it’s practiced from a biblical perspective. This foundation rests on individuals recognizing that God owns their business (Psalm 24:1), and they are simply managers of His business. And as managers, they are required to faithfully operate their business and conduct their financial affairs according to the Owners wishes as revealed in the Bible. “It is required in stewards [managers] that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).
Fourth, what does the Bible tell us about hard work and the individual responsibility to take care of our own needs? What does it say about caring for the needs of others?
The Bible encourages us to work hard to provide for our needs and the needs of our family: “You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest” (Exodus 34:21). “The precious possession of a man [and a woman] is diligence” (Proverbs 12:27). “If a man will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
The Bible also clearly encourages us to be compassionate and generously help the needy—whether the income is earned by a salaried employee or the business: “Let the man who has two tunics share with him who has none; and let him who has food do likewise” (Luke 3:11). “Do not merely look after your own personal interests, but also the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3). “They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I was also eager to do” (Galatians 2:10).
One of the loveliest examples in the Bible of a hard working small business person providing for the family and the needy is the amazing woman described in Proverbs 31:10-27, which reads in part: “An excellent wife . . . works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar. She rises also while it is still night, and gives food to her household, and portions to her maidens. She considers a field and buys it. From her earnings she plants a vineyard . . . She extends her hand to the poor; and she stretches out her hands to the needy . . . She makes coverings for herself. . . She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen . . . She looks well to the ways of her household . . .”
May all of us catch the vision of using our work to provide for the needs of our loved ones and of others in need.
Howard Dayton is the Founder and CEO, Compass – finances God’s way. For more information about Howard, please click HERE.