This week I am excited to continue on with the last and final part of my series on God’s Purpose For Wealth: The Five Foundations of the Jewish Economic Theory. It is through these foundations that we are able to see how God intended us to utilize and steward wealth.
Today we are digging into foundations four and five.
Foundation Four: Caring for the Needy
The fourth foundation is about caring for the needy out of your wealth. Jesus made it clear when He said, “The poor you will always have with you.”
When we look at poverty in our third-world countries, there is an important distinction we need to make about caring for the needy.
If we take Africa where I’ve personally had the most experience, there have been many studies done in recent years showing that aid from western nations has created a welfare mentality among the people. People don’t feel the need to till their garden – so they don’t. And the reality is that they don’t have to because they can just go to a truck and get a meal.
Let me be clear. Aid is important when people cannot help themselves. For example, in an emergency crises, like the ebola outbreak of 2014 or earthquakes and famines, we should definitely be sending aid.
Sometimes people are sick or there are other types of devastation they’re facing where they are unable to help themselves. Then aid is absolutely important. We must send it. We should never, ever neglect this.
But we need to understand that there can be too much of a good thing. I always like to say it in the classic way. Instead of giving somebody a fish so they can eat the fish, teach them how to fish. Then they will always have food.
There are times with Tricord Global where we will go in and spend money just to drill a water well because the people in the area don’t have the money to do so. Sometimes it’s necessary for us to step in and supply some sort of infrastructure that the people need.
The reason we give loans is not because were trying to get the money back. That’s not the point. But here’s an example of what can happen. Sometimes, philanthropists buy sewing machines for people in developing nations. A year later, they go back over and the sewing machines have been dismantled for parts. Or the machines are sitting covered in dust because no one trained the owners how to use them. No one taught them how to do business.
The reason we do loans is because it brings them back to us every week. We collect the loan payment, and then we offer teaching, training, coaching, and mentoring in order to empower them. And they feel empowered too. They get to walk away from the deal saying, “I paid my loan back. I’m worth something.” And I would say that about 95% of them completely break into another level of empowerment in their lives. Additionally, the dollar that was lent to that person to be lent now to another person, thus perpetuating the empowerment.
What’s the point? If accumulation of wealth is a virtue, then we as Christians and as a people who master our money never, ever want to neglect caring for the needy. But we want to do it in the right way.
Foundation Five: Limited Government
The last foundation of Jewish Economic Theory is limited government. We don’t want the government intervening in our affairs. The government is here to serve – not dominate.
All throughout the Old Testament, we see the Israelites pressing God for more and more governmental structure. Israel at its finest reported straight to God for everything they did. And while God pushes back, trying to let them know that more government is not always a good thing, they keep asking. They asked for a king even though God told them they didn’t need a king. So he delivered. And we can read story after story of how their leaders and kings dominated them.
The reality is that more government means higher taxes. And higher taxes stifle enterprise and business. Most employment in America is provided by small businesses, but most employees have no idea that they’re costing their business at least 15% more than they’re being paid because of matching social security, health insurance, unemployment, etc. Most people don’t realize that if you take sales tax and add it to your payroll tax, then half your income is going to taxes.
The average employee in America who does not own his own business is basically functioning with half of his or her income going to taxes. You pay a gasoline tax every time you shop. It adds up.
Now taxes are in their nature a good thing. It’s important to pay your portion of the national defense. Taxes that benefit us mutually as a society are important. But there can come a point where we are stealing wealth out of people’s hands in an overburdensome way.
This last foundation, limited government, is more about the tax structure than anything. The Jews believe there should be government, but it should be limited to allow people freedom to live and to engage in enterprise.
Has this series hit home for you? Let me know in the comments below!
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