For many decades, certain detractors have waged an incessant war against the concept of private enterprise. In schools, young people have been indoctrinated with the ideas that:
(1) the principle of private property is tantamount to theft.
(2) the employment of workers amounts to unfair exploitation of labor, and
(3) business profits come out of consumer’s pockets.
That these anti-capitalistic ideas have gained precedence in American society is testified by the fact that our statute books are full of legislation that undermines and hampers the entrepreneurial efforts of private producers, simultaneously burdening the members of society with an expensive and initiative-stifling government bureaucracy. This incessant attack has even affected Christians who should, by their familiarity with biblical precepts, be among the staunchest supporters of private enterprise. But, sad to say, many Christians, because they have not thought issues through consistently on a biblical basis, are in the forefront of those who demand increased government controls and regimentation of the economy.
(1) The Bible upholds the principle of private property. Peter didn’t upbraid Ananias and Sapphira for retaining control of the proceeds from their sale of land, but for lying about what they did. Rather than attacking private property. Peter’s admonition constitutes a strong defense of private property (Acts 5:4). In Genesis 13:2 we read, in a favorable context, that Abram was very rich: and there are a number of passages that point out that the powers to accumulate wealth is a gift from God (Deut. 8:18; Chr. 29:12; Pr. 22:4; Ecc. 5:19).
When Jesus was approached by a coveter who wanted his brother to divide his inheritance, Jesus rebuked. “Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?” (Lk. 12:14). Even in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19- 31). there is not the slightest hint of an attack against the rich man’s perfect right to do what he wished with his own property. To do so would undermine the biblical principle of each person’s direct responsibility to God for the use of wealth while sojourning on earth.
The principle of private property is centered on one’s personal trusteeship to God for the gifts He has bestowed on us. Only by being free from outside (social) control can man be maximally self-responsible to God spiritually (i.e., in his psyche). As God owns us. so we own our bodies and the produce of our labor (Eph. 2:10), for we are His workmanship.
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