From the Pastor's Study
From the Pastor’s Study
June 7, 2023
Economics is the study of how we can use limited resources for our best possible advantage. Normally we associate economics with money, and rightly so, for money is the currency which we use to acquire and dispense of resources. Yet, economics has a far wider meaning: it comes from a Greek word pertaining to a household, and economics should be understood as the “art of managing a household.” A household has access to resources, and the manager of the household needs to understand how to properly manage those resources so that the household thrives. Usually the manager focuses his/her attention on those areas where resources are potentially scarce (food, for example) while giving lesser attention to those resources which are in abundance (air, for example). Because the manager focuses on those areas with limited resources, economics has become associated with the art of using scarce resources to their best advantage.
When economists tell us that hard times are coming, what they mean is that what we have to offer will be less valuable than what we need to live. In difficult times we might become unemployed, meaning that our skills and time are not in demand which results in us not being able to acquire that which we need. Or, as we are experiencing now with inflation, the same labour and time we offer does not enable us to acquire as much as we did before. In other words, our resources become scarcer while our needs remain the same. How do we best manage this? This is the study of economics.
It seems to me that while we will always think about economics in terms of finances, the bigger problem we seem to be having currently is limited time. I am among the many who lament that they do not have enough time, that there are not enough hours in the day or enough days in the week. A lack of time seems to be more of an issue with us today than a lack of money. Thus, economists who have learned the art of managing a household, would do well to focus our attention on how to best use the limited resource we call “time.”
It should not surprise us that the economics of the Kingdom of God are quite different from the economics of Canada. In Canada, while we are rich in resources, we are still limited. There is only so much of anything to go around. Yet, in the Kingdom of God, those places where God’s reign is known and experienced, there is no limit to our resources. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) said one missionary, and therefore we do not need to worry about a shortage in God’s Kingdom. Further, when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, the length of our lives is extended dramatically, far beyond just the few decades we live on this earth to the unending experience of eternal life. To put it another way, there are no scarce resources of either time of money when God is involved.
This is easy to say, but it seems difficult to experience. Yet, God has designed into his will for our lives two very practical ways to experience the fullness of his provision. He asks us to give away those resources that seem so scarce to us. First, he asks us to give our time, and he provides a day of rest for us. In a world where time is so scarce, it seems foolish to give a whole day every week to cease from gaining resources for ourselves so that we can live. It seems a foolish waste of time, yet God urges us to engage in this “waste of time.” Likewise, God has told us that we are to give away a significant portion of our money. Our money represents our ability to acquire resources for what we need, and God asks us to give it away. It doesn’t make sense if both money and time (especially time) are so limited, unless, of course, they are not limited.
Surprisingly, although it goes against every economist’s predictions, giving away both time and money so that we cannot use them to our best advantage results in no less for the giver. People who refrain from unnecessary work on Sundays generally do not have less time than their neighbours to acquire the necessities of life. Further, those who give away a significant portion of their money do not suffer greater want than their neighbours. In fact, they experience God’s provision and know that it comes from him. It would be safe to say that those who give away their time and money, not being able to use them for their own advantage, generally have greater peace of mind. We might say that they are carefree, not having to worry about their own care for they know that God cares for them.
In the world, economics is all about managing scarce resources to gain the best advantage from them. In the Kingdom of God, economics is about managing the vast resources God has given to us for the advantage, not of ourselves, but of all of God’s creation. If we want to experience the limitlessness of God’s resources, part of our management practice is to give a significant portion of it away.