Do We Want Enough?

God has certainly never been stingy with the wealth. In establishing an order for His people, under the Law of Moses, God promised the Hebrews great blessings—including material wealth—if they obeyed His law (Deut. 28-30). When He told them to tithe 10 percent for His work, He promised that if they did so, their material blessings would overflow so greatly that they would hardly be able to receive it all (Mal. 3:10-12). Blessing the poor does not require afflicting the rich in God's economy, nor does God require that we impoverish ourselves in order to be aligned with His heart or His purposes. A number of wealthy benefactors did God's work in the New Testament, people who remained wealthy and continued to do more of God's work. His provision for His people isn't a directive to want more, but it clearly resonates with the way He made us: to be motivated by the hope of improving our lot and giving our children a better life.

For the American colonists in 1776, it wasn't even a question whether they had a "right" to want something more and better for themselves. They didn't fear that they wanted too much. They believed instead that what they wanted was in line with God's provision for "natural rights." It may be startling for many of us to recognize the colonists' unabashed sense of, well, entitlement. They believed they had a right to lawfully guard what was theirs from taxation, and to engage in labor and commerce as they saw fit.

They were explicitly not prepared to accept having their level of prosperity and economic self-determination defined for them. No ideology of limits on men's prerogatives or opportunities served to make them self-abnegating in this regard.

America's founding generations had much more of a sense of God's providence and care than we have in 2012, and that made them bolder and more confident about their rights before their earthly government. As we deal today with great changes in the scope and purpose of our national government, we won't be able to make good choices or commitments without understanding what motivated our nation's founding and its unique political idea.

7/8/2012 4:00:00 AM
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  • J. E. Dyer
    About J. E. Dyer
    J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval intelligence officer and evangelical Christian. She retired in 2004 and blogs from the Inland Empire of southern California. She writes for Commentary's CONTENTIONS blog, Hot Air's Green Room, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
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