On the intersection between faith and economics – by Waldo Malan

On the intersection between faith and economics – by Waldo Malan
A good friend of mine recently wanted to know if I had any peculiar thoughts on the intersection between faith and economics. At first I thought… what rubbish… and then I thought-ed some more. Not rubbish at all but a Godly principle. Yes, I discovered (while pondering) that I actually do believe there is an intersection between the two, and in fact, an intersection that was put in place by God himself. Allow me to explain through a connect-the-dots picture, since these I really love.

Firstly I think that it is important for us to distinguish between two different economies at work in our world today. There are economics that is the result of a relationship with God, and then there are economics as a financial system invented by man. The interesting thing about this, and the reason we often flounder in ambiguities, is that both these systems are at work all the time, no matter which one we subscribe to!

God’s economy is simple:
1) everything belongs to God
2) everything that belongs to God he has given to man
3) God requires man to believe (intrinsically and inherently) that He is good, and all He created is good
4) God smiles broadly and is pleased when we believe Him and operate according to the guidelines that He has set out

So simply put, to operate effectively in the economy of God faith is a pre-requisite.

World economy:
1) there is a lot of stuff in the world that belongs to no one
2) man must put systems and strategies in place to collect as much stuff as possible, and then place a stamp of ownership on it
3) man’s effort, talent, ability and tenaciousness will guarantee a collection success.
4) man must believe in himself to play the game well

God’s economy goes beyond material things and includes spiritual realizations as well. Hence the axis of a Godly economy is “seedtime and harvest”; this means that for every action there is an equal consequence (and no, I didn’t steal this from Newton!). In the beginning God created the whole world, then gave that world to us with an instruction to tend, look after and increase it in all it’s glory. We know from Scripture that all glory belongs to God, that all earth belongs to God, that God’s glory covers the earth, and that the sole expression of His glory is Jesus Christ. It stands to reason then that as we work with the things of God, and as the things of God increase, we bring glory to His name. Our faith in this process, our belief that we are appointed as stewards of a Divinely created environment would ensure the smooth sailing and favourable outcome of His system. The only thing that really matters in our life (that really has any value) is the fact that we can love God! Then, because we love God we are able to love others. Yet, we can only love God and others if we too believe that God loves us and that we are able to love ourselves because He has chosen to be our Breath, Source, Author and Finisher.

A failed God-economy would include a personal stamp on stuff that really belongs to God, a belief that accumulated possessions was the result of personal effort, and where other people do not benefit equally or in a greater measure through our efforts. It will only be the faith in God (the faith of God?) that will be the differentiation measure we have to stay on course.

In this context it is easy to delude ourselves into thinking we can use the economy of God for our own benefit. It is easy to throw around phrases like “blessed to be a blessing” as a justification for spending more time accumulating stuff that we spend in conversation with God. It is easy to treat God like a casino slot machine by reminding Him that we’ve “sown” some money (financial seed) and that we expect (in faith) a good harvest.

Here’s the deal: for every ounce of love that we give out (sow) we know that we already have an endless harvest in the love of God for us. For every kind word we speak and grace we show others, we already know that we are living in the harvest of God’s everlasting grace! The principle of seedtime and harvest is really simple – we are given the ability to sow simply because we are already living in the benefit of the harvest. It has nothing to do with only possessions – we love bandying about examples of big houses and fancy cars, healthy bank balances and successful businesses. It has to do with the fact that we are “living beings”… the Hebrew word ‘nephesh’… encompassing spirit, soul and body.

Faith? Well, we need to believe that this is the system designed by God, and that we have a critical role to play in it. We need to believe, have faith in the love and goodness of God.

A successful Godly economy will see all needs met, from orphan to prince, from widow to whore, from rich and poor, from hungry and stuffed and from loved to unloved. A successful Godly economy will see the gaps between rich and poor being erased to where everyone can see the riches they have in Christ (the riches that are part of the glory of God). A successful Godly economy is where all people realize that if birds can eat and if flowers can be decked out in splendour, so will we!

Our faith is the key to the door of our Heavenly Banker (excuse this borrowing of a world-economy title).

Where a worldly system requires us to “sow” effort and time in order to reap a “harvest”, God’s system is opposite. God’s system requires us to believe that the “harvest” is already given to us and than now we are able to “sow” into a world (and people) God had created, so that everywhere, every one can see that harvest for themselves. And really, isn’t this “harvest” we are talking about simply another way to describe the glory of God?

If we can wake up to the truth of this simple picture, everything will change. If our faith in God is secure He is able to use anything and everything we have to offer to ensure the success of His system. (Would you call me a heretic because I call the God’s love a system?). The successful play out of God’s system would also ensure that false teaching would be eradicated and that people wouldn’t be manipulated out of their stuff (money), simply as a means of possession-exchange.

I’ve left much unsaid… but the connection between faith and economics is essential. Without it only man will be honoured.

[Waldo Malan – husband, father, son, worshipper, musician… just another regular guy]

[1] How does this statement: “A failed God-economy would include a personal stamp on stuff that really belongs to God, a belief that accumulated possessions was the result of personal effort, and where other people do not benefit equally or in a greater measure through our efforts”  resonate with you? Have you ever taken time to consider the things that you ‘own’ in the light of your faith with God and how the two are related?

[2] “Where a worldly system requires us to “sow” effort and time in order to reap a “harvest”, God’s system is opposite. God’s system requires us to believe that the “harvest” is already given to us and than now we are able to “sow” into a world (and people) God had created, so that everywhere, every one can see that harvest for themselves.”  Does this sound like something that is easily attainable? Or is it a bit of a stretch for your faith?

We would love to hear your thoughts on this below. Thank you for engaging with us on the intersection between FAITH and ECONOMY [and JUSTICE].

 

 

Brett Anderson

Brett "Fish" Anderson from South Africa (the country) is passionate about seeing the church live out what it says it believe in all areas of life. He is married to the beautiful Val (tbV) and hates raiSINs with a different kind of passion.
  • Ania Garnett (nee Ruzyczka de Rosenwerth)

    My faith seems so simple on these matters,,all I have is from God..He is my provider..I sow into peoples lives from the storehouse of Gods provision..I hate the big differences between the rich and poor..yet Jesus said the poor will always be with us..materialism doesnt sit well with me..and, if I have missed the point of the “two cents: please comment on my comment!! MAybe am responding from a tired space..the comments not fully processed yet!!Am ertainly not into accumulation of possessons..and into sharing what i have when i can..sometimmes god asks a “big aask” sacrifial giving..He provides even then..always..even my salary is from God, meagre maybe but a gift from him..I work hard for it..a (godly) principle of mine..you are really challenging me to ponder longer..and deeper..and ask God for his opinion!! thank you!! Ania

  • Brett Anderson

    hey Ania, thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It is incredible how often we manage to take something that in essence can be so simple and make it complicated. ‘All I have belongs to Him’ sounds very simple indeed. I guess when it can become complicated is when we are presented with a need and need to decide if our compulsion to give is out of guilt or the prompting of the Spirit? Or when the giving starts to cost us?

    The idea of this blog is to create a place that encourages people to ponder longer and harder and then hopefully come back and share their ponderings with the rest of us so that we can try and figure this stuff out togethyer, so seems like we’re heading in a good direction. Thanks for visiting and commenting and hope to see you more.