What Does the Bible Teach Us About Wealth

Thanks to The Institute of Faith, Work, and Economics for publishing this piece on biblical teaching about wealth. You can download a free electronic copy here and read an interview I did with IFWE’s Elise Daniel about the work. Here’s a snippet:

What inspired you to write on this topic?

Christians have always struggled with connecting their faith to the various aspects of their lives. The Scriptures give us wonderful guidelines, values, and insight into the way that God has designed us to live in this world, but we still have to do the hard work of understanding our own worlds and applying the Scriptures into our own context. And it is really hard work, which is why some Christians give up on it. They say that the Bible only speaks to our inner life but not to our outer life, that somehow our faith doesn’t have any say about how we live or what we do with the opportunities God has given to us. That way of thinking is a cop-out.

Abraham Kuyper famously said that there isn’t one square inch of creation that Jesus has not claimed as his. This is true of the Christian life as well. There is not one part of our lives that King Jesus has not claimed as his, including our hearts, our minds, our bodies, and our influence in the world. There ought not to be any private fiefdoms in the empire of the human heart. The Lord claims them all.

When Christians study Deuteronomy 6:4-5, many might not connect it to the idea of wealth, as you mention in the booklet. Why do you think this is?

The idea of wholeness as the goal of redemption had been something that I had been thinking about a good bit. Many in my generation, including myself, have complained about a sense of fragmentation that the modern world seems to encourage. Fragmentation is really the opposite of wholeness. Modern life is complicated with multiple forces at work in our lives with cross-purposes, and this complication can lead to fragmentation, the dividing up of the self into discrete units, different personas operating in different contexts according to different rules and values. The person can be lost in these fragments.

I knew that the Scriptures called us to a more unified sense of self, and Deuteronomy 6:4-5 definitely gave voice to that. I think people read this passage, or they read Jesus’s use of it (Matt. 22:37; Mk. 12:30; Lk. 10:27), and they think that loving the Lord with “all of their heart, soul, and strength” means they are called to love God a lot. The categories of “heart, soul, and strength” seem general and not entirely obvious in their meaning.

As I explain more thoroughly in the booklet, the Shema is saying that our relationship with God ought to find purchase in every aspect of our lives, inner and outer. We shouldn’t think that there is a hard divide that keeps the Christian from applying the teaching of Scripture to every aspect of her life. As Jesus taught, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21).

Read the rest here.