Let’s review the five points of the biblical covenant model:
1. God’s sovereignty
2. Man’s delegated authority
3. God’s law
4. God’s sanctions (positive and negative)
5. Inheritance in history
This is understood in terms of five questions.
1. Who’s in charge here?
2. To whom do I report?
3. What are the rules?
4. What do I get if I obey? Disobey?
5. Does this outfit have a future?
These five points are inescapable in economics.
1. God’s original ownership
2. Man’s stewardship
3. God’s kingdom: “seek first”
4. God’s blessings: “all these things”
5. The inheritance: “the meek shall inherit the earth”
All These Things
Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him (Matt. 4:8-11).
“All these things”: This was the third and final temptation of Christ in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus later announced this to His followers:
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:31-33).
“All these things”: This is a promise of capitalization. Christians as a fellowship community will receive all the things that they need in their efforts to extend the kingdom of God in history. God does not short-change His people.
This promise re-confirmed what Moses had told the generation of the conquest, just before they invaded Canaan.
The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways. And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee. And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them (Deut. 28:9-14).
These positive sanctions are what fund covenant-keepers in the first half of this verse: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” Without this as the guide, “all these things” become a snare and a delusion. Jesus was clear about this.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? (Matt. 6:24-27).
What was mammon? It was not a local god with a temple. The Jews who listened to Jesus would not have been tempted by such a god. Mammon was and is a way of life: man-centered. Its creed is simple: More for me in history. Mammon is the most widely worshipped god in history. It attracts many followers. It does not take active evangelism to recruit dedicated followers.
The biblical goal for greater wealth is to increase your level of responsibility. All increases in wealth produce greater responsibility.
And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more (Luke 12:47-48).
People who want greater wealth with less responsibility are pursuing a mirage.
By increasing your level of responsibility, you extend the kingdom of God. This is why Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added. The things referred to in this passage are mainly tools of production — kingdom extension.
There are other benefits besides tools of production: a safe neighborhood, better health, longer life, a peaceful marriage, a more serviceable house, more reliable transportation. Some of these things can be purchased with money, but not all. Solomon wrote: “It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house” (Prov. 21:9). Then he wrote it again, word for word (Prov. 25:24).
Examine your budget. Where do your interest payments go? To mammon or to God?
Go through your budget categories. Mark them by hand: mammon and God. Then decide: “How can I convert the mammon expenditures to kingdom-extending expenditures?”
If you cannot find an answer, ask this: “How can I reduce these payments?” One way is to sell the asset and use the money for debt-reduction. Another is to start speeding up the principal payments.