Profit-making, as we have seen in our study of biblical economics, is not inherently evil. In fact, it can greatly benefit others and society at large as people produce affordable goods and resources to serve their neighbors. People who seek a profit can transform limited resources into vast sums that can be used to help others and support God’s kingdom.
The idea of limited resources is an important one to keep in mind. No one person owns everything, so that means each of us must steward a finite amount of resources. Some people are wealthier than others, but even the wealthiest individuals must choose where to allocate their funds. A dollar spent in one place is a dollar that cannot be spent elsewhere, so we are called to be wise with our material goods. However, that we each have a finite amount of resources at our disposal does not mean we are bound to a certain net worth or can never earn more. Our individual resources will always be finite in the sense that none of us will ever have everything in creation at our disposal; nevertheless, the amount that we do have can be increased. We can acquire more resources than we currently have, though as finite beings we will never gain everything. If nothing else, our deaths put an end to our ability to invest and grow our personal resources.
Speaking of investing, the Bible commends the proper investment of our resources to gain more wealth, and it warns us in many places of the dangers of seeking fast gain or a “quick buck,” as it were. Today’s passage, for example, calls us to invest all of our resources—including our time, our money, and our talents—in order to earn a return for the sake of our Master, namely, God Himself (Matt. 25:14–30). The Lord will commend us if we take what He has given us and increase it for the sake of His kingdom. Other texts such as Proverbs 13:11 tell us that if we gain wealth hastily,we will end up losing it. Patient investing develops in us the skills necessary to maintain and increase our resources over the long term. Impatience that leads to such things as get-rich-quick schemes or taking other foolish risks with our funds does not lend itself to the discipline needed to grow wealth permanently. What can be earned quickly can be lost just as fast as it was gained.
In essence, the Bible commends delayed gratification. Fools spend all that they have now, with no regard for the future (Prov. 20:21). Those who patiently invest and spend less than they earn build lasting wealth that can help others for a long time to come.