A Biblical Perspective on Economics – Reflection
Economics has traditionally been defined as “the study of the allocation of scarce resources among competing interests.” Most economists would probably agree that religious views don’t usually play much role in economic thinking; in this field we tend to pride ourselves on our objectivity, eschewing the “normative” values of faith for “positive” analysis driven by theory and facts. However, Managerial Economics seeks to apply economic theory to real life, in the business arena and beyond, where values are very important and indeed essential. And, of course, at JBU we seek to bring our faith to bear on all of our intellectual pursuits – “head, heart, and hand,” as we say.
From a faith-based perspective, one might look at economics as a study of the stewardship of the resources God has given us. We each have time, human capital (as educated people), financial resources, access to technology, and more – so we have a lot of things to “steward” or manage. To take us beyond the traditional definition of economics, I’d like for you to reflect on some passages of scripture from the gospel of Luke and develop at least the beginnings of a biblical perspective of economics, and specifically, a “theology of stewardship.”
I’d like for you to think first about the “parable of the minas” in Luke 19:11-27 (you might also look at the “parable of the talents” as recorded in Matthew 25:14-30). When I ask people about things Jesus said that are most applicable to business and economics, they often mention these parables. Then I want you to choose at least one or more other passages in Luke from the list below, and using these passages, discuss Christ’s perspective on managing the resources God has given to us. You may reference any translation of the Bible that you’d like, and you’ll find a number of translations available online at BibleGateway (biblegateway.com). Here are the passages to review and choose from:
Luke 8:1-15, the parable of the sower
Luke 10:25-37, the good Samaritan
Luke 12:13-21, the rich fool
Luke 12:22-34, “Do not worry”
Luke 12:35-48, the faithful and wise manager
Luke 14:25-35, the cost of discipleship
Luke 16:1-15, the parable of the shrewd manager
Luke 20:20-26, paying taxes
Luke 21:1-4, the widow’s offering
Again, you do not need to address all of these – just choose one or more that help amplify a lesson from the parable of the minas. Here’s the specific assignment:
Write 1 to 2 pages on how the study of “economics as stewardship” can be informed by an understanding of the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. Your insights can address what the study of economics is or should be about, how a biblical worldview might help one apply economic principles in business or elsewhere, and could certainly address points of conflict or tension. Your essay can be informal and personal (meaning you can use first person and you don’t have to write in typical academic prose; however, that’s not a license to be sloppy or use poor grammar!) If I think your essay leaves questions unanswered or does not dig deeply enough, I may ask you to develop it more!
A Biblical Perspective on Economics – Reflection
The prospects of stewardship from the point of view of Jesus Christ have been described in the passages of the book Bible (2011). The understanding and knowledge regarding the transfer of wealth, consumption, and production in the discipline of Economics are required to understand the actual meaning of becoming an upright stewardess. First of all, the necessary thing to know is the meaning of stewardship being the management and utilization of every resource provided for the grandeur of God by God himself and the enhancement of the creations of God which includes the talent of every individual, the environment, and several other resources so that the gifts provided by God can be taken care of (Christianstewardshipnetwork.com, 2020). For example, living and life are the core of economics as stewardship. Individuals have the right and liberty to live and also share the resources available on the earth. For sustainability in the long run, for the survival of mankind, decisions are taken to distribute resources efficiently and rationally for both the own interest and the interests of the rest of human beings residing in the world (Bradley, 2020). The combination of these two understandings will lead individuals to be good and well-behaved, bringing a better world into being through their contribution to society.
According to the belief of the people around the world, there is a strong connection between Economics and Christianity. The interest of God is regarding both the creation of material and spiritual aspects. Hence, there is an indication of the connection between the Christian view of nature and humanity and the economic theory through many truths and realities. The glory of God which is revealed through the creations of God is reflected by the actions taken by individuals is a sign of the implication of economic laws. The principles of the Bible connect with Economics through the spiritual and materialistic ways as it talks about people dealing with capitalism, theft, fraud, moving property barriers, capital, and taking into account every aspect of spiritual and materialistic life Biblical principles guide individuals in becoming a decent stewardess (Tifwe.org, 2019).
The Parable of the Rich Fool, mentioned in Luke 12: 13-21 is an excellent illustration of the regular life of people and the way individuals are just concerned about themselves. Unfortunately, there is just not enough wealth or funds to keep them satisfied and happy, and when they are permitted to return the favor, they opt out to do so. The owner of the farm is provided with resources in this passage which enables the farm owner to enhance the earnings of other landowners, enabling them to have a happier ad richer life, that is, a stable family life. This is the way how the working of Economics goes on; the ability to transfer wealth is essential for being a respectable and decent stewardess and looking after the neighbors. The person mentioned in the passage refused to share the property; instead, he preferred to develop more, flaunt his avarice, and witness the suffering of his neighbors. Having lived in a materialistic culture may put a lot of stress on people to conform, but this should never be done at the expense of Biblical principles. However, as a small owner of the company, I have experienced obstacles that caused me to conclude that now can be seen as not ideal. I once had to raise my rates to make more money, but it would have resulted in my clients who could previously purchase a big cup o coffee would have to settle for tiny cups or purchase from somewhere else.
Bible, H. (2011). New International Version: Biblica.
Bradley, A. R. (2020). Biblical Stewardship and Economic Progress. In Faith, Finance, and Economy (pp. 31-51). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
Christianstewardshipnetwork.com (2020). What is Biblical Stewardship? Christian Stewardship Network. Retrieved from https://www.christianstewardshipnetwork.com/blog/what-is-biblical-stewardship [Retrieved on March 11, 2022]
Tifwe.org (2019). Five Ways the Bible and Economic Principles Are Connected. Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics. Retrieved from https://tifwe.org/five-ways-the-bible-and-economic-principles-are-connected/ [Retrieved on March 11, 2022]