Christians are called to be generous (Ps. 37:21), but we cannot be generous if we have nothing to give. This is one reason that it is important for us to understand economic issues. We pay attention to the truths learned in economics because doing so will help us be better stewards of what we have, which in turn will allow us to be more generous with what the Lord has given us.
One fundamental economic truth for all of us concerns the finiteness of our resources. Whether we are wealthy or poor, we all have a limited amount of money to spend. When we spend one dollar in one place, we cannot spend it in another. Thus, we must use wisdom to allocate our resources, choosing the best use of our funds for the sake of the kingdom.
Regrettably, this can be more difficult than we often think. Living in a society that emphasizes instant gratification and living beyond our means, we feel the pressure to spend more than we have. Many people even in the church live in chronic indebtedness. In some cases, this is beyond our control—an unexpected tragedy can wipe out our savings in a moment. However, much of the chronic indebtedness is due to poor budgeting and a willingness to borrow money for things that we do not really need. Easy credit makes it simple to buy something now and pay for it later, but interest rates can mean that we are paying for things for years when we cannot afford them right now but think that we must have them right now.
Compounding interest on our savings, however, works to our advantage. If we spend less than we earn, we have money left over that can be invested for long-term gain. Wealth, as it says in today’s passage, is gained little by little. Saving and investing for the long haul can give us greater resources that we can then use to invest in God’s kingdom, assist the needy, and build an inheritance for our children.
Scripture commends saving and investment and warns us against frivolous and wasteful spending. The parable of the prodigal son illustrates how wealth can be squandered (Luke 15:11–32), and the parable of the talents shows us the importance of investing our resources (time, money, and so on) so that they work for us (Matt. 25:14–30). The fool does not think about the future and the money he will need for it (Prov. 21:5), but godly parents work to build an inheritance for their children (13:22).