Step 6. Execute Your Stewardship
Economics is defined as the science that investigates the conditions and laws affecting the production, distribution, exchange and consumption of goods and services. The biblical concept of Economics has to do with the wise stewardship or management of a household’s resources.
We first learn economics at home since the running of a household includes meeting its needs and managing its resources. For a close look at the ideal house manager, we can turn to Proverbs 31 and see the activities of a good steward of time, talent, and treasure.
First, we are told that a good house manager is equipped with a godly belief and value system which instills the fear of the Lord in a person’s heart. The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A good house manager must possess wisdom. Proverbs 31 presents a picture of a large and prosperous household that functions with good management. This passage shows us how to apply the noble wife’s policies in our own stewardship so we may make good economic decisions.
Part of the ethic of economics is the consumption of goods and services that are “true (what conforms to the word of God), good (what pleases God) and right (what conforms to the will of God).” This wife does not buy just any food or clothes. We are told that she is selective. She knows what is good or bad for her family. She buys quality items only. The quality of the items we buy is important. Low prices do not always translate into savings. The business world will do everything it can to make you buy their products whether you need them or not. Its objective is to make you spend your money. A bad economist will tell you high consumer spending is good for the national economy; a good one will tell you to buy only the things you need.
The sinful nature of man can manifest itself through an out-of-control and insatiable appetite for fine cuisine and designer clothes. But, though the noble woman is described as wearing “fine linen and purple,” indicating that she is of wealth and position, we understand that she does not overspend nor wear her clothes for show. The noble wife works vigorously and she is never idle. Work is good. However, there are those who in practice would not agree. Paul had to give this rule to lazy believers in Thessalonica: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).” A perennial economic problem in any society is the presence of sluggards among its members who prey on the generosity of others.
A government which rewards indolence by taking care of the physical needs of the lazy is helping neither the welfare recipients nor the society as a whole. Laziness, if rewarded, will inevitably affect any nation’s productivity and therefore its economic well-being. Another part of the ethic of economics is to be productive but to produce only those things which are “true, good and right.”
There are those who have become poor because of injustice (like exploitation or even legal plunder), natural or business disaster, denial of opportunity, prolonged illness, or the forsaking of wealth for the sake of the gospel. With regards to these poor, generous giving is the right response. Christians should give generously toward the meeting of the needs of the poor but not of the lazy.
The noble wife has influence in her community. She is a person of authority and ability dressed in fine linen and purple. Verse 20 indicates her genuine concern for the plight of the poor. It should be no surprise to us if she heads a great charitable organization in addition to her responsibilities of overseeing the affairs of a large household. Wisely, she employs servant girls (verse 15). With the profit or surplus she makes in her trading transactions, she can well afford to hire a household staff. Part of effectively running a household is knowing how to properly delegate tasks. The noble wife being a manager (verse 29) could effectively direct a great philanthropic society or volunteer organization. Certainly, we cannot underestimate the impact of some such organizations upon national economies or upon the global community. Transfer of technologies and organizational skills to developing countries boost international productivity which in turn benefits more of the earth’s inhabitants.
Luke 12:48 tells us that “from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” The person who fears God knows this by heart and gladly implements the noble undertakings she is capable of doing. She knows that while the people of God are in the world but not of it, they have the tremendous privilege of being salt and light to it, and of making every opportunity count for the glory of God. Works of charity are the good works referred to in Matthew 5:16. They are the works of love that can only be attributed to God – – especially charitable works that feed, teach, and train the poor so that they may be equipped to join the work force and become more productive citizens of their nation. Christian charity should endeavor to teach and train the poor toward economic self-reliance.
In the New Testament, the parable of the talents makes it clear that burying the resources entrusted to us by God incurs His displeasure and that doubling the value of investments is achievable (Matthew 25:15-30). The noble wife understands these concepts. Just as idleness is bad for the body and soul of man, so is idleness of resources bad for the entire society.
Money expended for consumer goods and services, invested, given to charities, and spent in payment of taxes are recycled back into the national economy with various degrees of effectiveness. The continued re-circulating of money stimulates growth. We all want economic growth which is a good kind of growth. If we buy goods and services which are “true, good and right” more of the same will be produced and offered to the public. The reverse is also true. We, likewise, need to be concerned about the means used in production and possible environmentally hazardous repercussions that may be associated with production. In this regard, well-defined governmental regulations are needed.
Believers are often not as conscious and informed as they ought of the far- reaching consequences associated with the economic activities they undertake (whether in areas of consumption, production, exchange or distribution). It is a great loss of opportunity to fail to influence the economy of one’s nation, and thereby, one’s society.
The ethic of economics is the production, distribution, exchange, and consumption of goods and services which are “true, good and right.”
God has a carefully designed plan for mankind. As part of that plan, it is not good for a man to be alone. That is why God made Adam a suitable helper. The task they faced, representatively, was the cultivation and subduing of the whole unformed earth, inside and outside the Garden of Eden – – the making of the earth as productive as possible. The job ahead for humankind was, and still is, the bringing of the kingdom of God visibly on earth. In this human partnership, let us praise God for noble wives.