Today’s guest post comes from Chad Wensink, one of an excellent class of students from Bethel Seminary who recently studied the intersection between faith, vocation and work.
The relationship between Christian work and money continues to be a matter of major concern for Christians who seek to fulfill their God-given calling while managing their finances well. In the past few years it seems that economic concerns have–in many cases–been pushed to the forefront of the societal concerns expressed in the mainstream media, and Christian principles and practices in the realm of work and finance continue to be a major concern for Christians who wish to represent Christ well in their work and financial stewardship. Financial management has turned divisive and deeply political in the United States in recent years among Christians and non-Christians alike. Rather than aiming my discussion points around a socio-political agenda, let me offer these Biblical principles to my fellow Christians as a means of representing Christ well with their stewardship of money and work:
1) All of the universe has been created by God, and is His possession alone. (Psalm 24:1-2; Romans 11:36) No one has the right to claim sole possession of goods or property because everything belongs to God alone.
2) God is the one who gives people the ability to produce wealth, and work and wealth are both gifts from God. (Deuteronomy 8: 17-18) Work is not something we can boast about as our ability, for God is the one who gives the ability to produce wealth. In addition, wealth is not something to serve, but it is rather a gift from God. Jesus himself said to his disciples, “you cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:13)
3) Christians will be held accountable to God for their stewardship of both work and money. The parable of the talents which Jesus teaches demonstrates this accountability for both work and wealth. (Matthew 25:14-30)
4) Greed, pride, and envy are all vices which Christians are to avoid in their stewardship of both work and wealth. (Psalm 10:3; Proverbs 1:19; Proverbs 16:18; Mark 7:20-23)
5) We as human beings are charged by God to care for one another, for we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) In loving our neighbor as ourselves, we are to take care of those in need and to share both our work and material wealth with those in need.
With these Biblical principles in mind, we must be more devoted to Christ above all. This means, in practical and political terms, that we must be willing to obey Christ devotedly with both work and money. Inevitably this commitment will lead us into situations where we may be applauded by (or offensive to) people on both sides of the political aisle. Our commitment to love our neighbor and to social justice for those who are truly in need may offend those on the political right. Our duty to Christ and to Christ-honoring work demands that we pursue justice anyway. Our commitment to the Christian community which demands that solidarity must be given on a strictly voluntary basis and not through a legal government mandate or from compulsion may offend those on the political left. Our commitment to Christ-honoring work demands that we give solidarity on a voluntary basis anyway. Our commitment to Christ demands that we love our neighbor by caring for the needs of the poor and simultaneously commands that we live in contentment without envying others even in the midst of the most severe wealth inequalities. This dual commitment may offend many, but our commitment to Christ and to Christ-honoring work demands that we walk the fine line anyway. In this way, work and money are tools for serving the Lord Christ.