Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The Power to Create Wealth: Ability and Means

And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is to this day. (Deuteronomy 8:18)
What is the power to create wealth? Power is simply the ability or means to do things. God has given us the ability and means to get wealth. The Hebrew word for “get” means to do, accomplish, make, acquire, bring about or use.

What is wealth? We often think of it in terms of money, property and substance. The Hebrew word translated as “wealth” refers to the “force” of resources. It is itself the ability to get things done and supply what is needed. In some contexts it may refer to the force of an army (in Exodus, for example, references to Pharaoh’s “army” uses the word that is translated in other places as “wealth”). In this present context it refers to the wealth of material abundance and resources, for God was preparing the children of Israel to cross over into the Promised Land:
For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing,; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:7-10)
We often think of wealth as a “zero-sum game.” That is, in order for one to have an increase in wealth, another has to have a decrease. In some cases that may be true. When the children of Israel entered the land of “milk and honey” they had to conquer the evil and perverse Canaanite people. The Bible also promises that “the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22). But those are unusual cases. The acquisition of wealth is not usually about taking it from others — that sort of wealth does not usually last — but it is more often a matter of creating wealth.

Once in the land with its wealth of resources, the children of Israel still had to do something with it. The land had to be developed, the fields planted, and the crops cultivated before there could be a rich harvest. The domestic animals needed proper tending if the flocks and herds were going to multiply. There were storehouses and homes to build, settlements to organize and city gates to be established if the people were to have lasting prosperity. All of this required vision and creativity, and people operating with insight, wisdom and skill.

That is the creation of wealth — recognizing the potential of available resources, developing those resources for meeting needs and solving problems, adding value and causing them to abound with blessing for many. This ability is a gift from God, part of the divine likeness in which we were created (Genesis 1:26-28).