(After re-reading my post, I think a little clarification would be helpful.  I use “love” here not in a biblical or agape sense, but in the same sense as, “I love it when my dog obeys me and is a good boy,” or, “I love tacos.”  Not like a die-on-the-cross love, but a this-is-pleasing-to-me love.  Ah, the strengths and weaknesses of the English language.  Ok, proceed.)

God loves profit.  He encourages wealth-building.

We started The Legacy Journey class by Dave Ramsey this week, and the first lesson covered toxic beliefs and sought to correct misunderstandings about money that can keep us from handling it properly.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin offers some reasons as to why Jews prosper and succeed at a higher percentage than the rest of his population in the excellent book Thou Shall Prosper.  

The first chapter in the book explains this: “Jewish tradition views a person’s quest for profit and wealth to be inherently moral.  Believing that making money is a selfish activity will undermine anyone’s chances of success.”  So a key to financial success is to actually believe that making money and building wealth is moral.  If, deep down inside, you believe it to be morally reprehensible to profit and build wealth, you’re going to have a much harder time doing it.

Our culture teaches us that among us are the “evil rich,” lurking just out of reach, shadow figures who hide behind private jets, shell corporations, and off-shore bank accounts.  They’re sinister in their desire to oppress the people with their profiteering.  Even the word “profit” itself has negative connotations in our culture.  No doubt profiteers exist, who want to make money by dishonest means, but they aren’t limited to rich people.

When we believe that, we warp our view of money out of a Biblical mindset into one that believes that money is bad and poverty is good.  People from Jewish culture have an advantage here, because they already believe that making money and profit through service to others is not only moral, but in fact good.  See Proverbs 10:4, 13:4, and 21:5 for a proper view on the relationship between work and prosperity.

Our pastor has also been doing a series that includes the Parable of the Ten Servants in Luke 19:11-27.  A man is to be crowned king, and he goes away for some time.  Before he leaves, he calls ten of his servants and gives them each one “mina,” which was worth about three months’ wages and says (depending on your translation) “Invest this/Do business/Put this money to work until I return.”

Many of us in the Christian tradition already know the end of the story.  The King returns, and asks for an account of his money.  One servant reports that he made his master’s money back times ten, another servant made it back times five, and another servant was afraid and hid the money, doing nothing with it despite the master’s orders.  The master was angry, and he took the mina from the servant and gave it to the one who had 10 times the money.  WOW!

The most striking verse to me is 26, which says, “…and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given.  But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” (NLT)

I think that you can relate this parable to your gifts/talents/abilities or to your opportunities, as we often do in church.  But the most basic, plain-text reading of this parable relates to money.  What are you going to do with the money that God gives you?

With the most basic, plain-text reading of this parable, it encourages the growth and increase of wealth, with the understanding that the money isn’t actually yours – you’re just caring for it.  The King in this story (representing Jesus) actually praises the ones who build wealth, and condemns the one who doesn’t.

You cannot divorce proper stewardship of what we’re given from wealth building – they’re intrinsically connected.  It’s clear from Scripture that God actually calls us to make profit.  So what are we waiting for?

How has our culture affected your view of wealth, money and profit?  Have you ever thought of wealth building as moral and good?