Let’s call God something humans have made up and we’ll find it inadequate. Describe him in human terms and we’ll just come up short. Box him up and limit him to a simple set of rules and dogmas and you’ll find that God does not sit remain inside a box. He will leave, and you will be left empty and hollow.
God is not a capitalist. He’s not socialist. He’s God. And he expects a few things from us no matter what government we have.
First is the ultimate measure of focus in our lives.
Matt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.‘ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Second, he’s outlined the simplest of laws to live in peace with each other.
- I am the Lord, your God.
- Thou shall bring no false idols before me.
- Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
- Honor thy father and thy mother.
- Thou shall not kill/murder†.
- Thou shall not commit adultery.
- Thou shall not steal††.
- Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
- Thou shall not covet‡ your neighbor’s wife (or anything that belongs to your neighbor).
Third, he outlined how we should manage our currencies, economy and assets. (Source)
- Acknowledge God’s Ownership (I Chronicles 29:11-12)
- Establish a Budget (Proverbs 16:3)
- Keep Giving & Saving at the Top (Proverbs 3:9, I Timothy 6:18)
- Get Out of Debt ASAP! (Proverbs 22:7, I Cor. 7:2)
- Avoid Indulgence and Hasty Decisions (Luke 12:15, Proverbs 21:5)
- Establish Goals (Habakkuk 2:2)
- Learn Contentment (Philippians 4:11, Colossians 3:15)
And it must be fair to say that you can live a God-filled life in capitalism or socialism. You can serve God in any government, be it monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, junta, democracy, republic … you name it. God separated himself from government.
Matt 22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
God doesn’t need your government to reach the needy, the poor or the hungry. He doesn’t need bigger government programs or more institutionalized control of national assets. What he needs is you, engaged.
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
This is a personal mandate, not a license to take from others, nor the right to force others to give on God’s behalf or behest. Giving to the poor cannot be institutionalized, but must come voluntarily.
2 Corinthians 9:7
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
And this comes with a personal mandate for everyone, individually, to help the poor. With that mandate comes consequences for those who do not follow it, too.
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
1 John 3:17-18
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
1 Timothy 5:8
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you.
God allows for Welfare, but leaving gleanings in fields again must come from property that is first controlled, worked and first benefitted by the individual who owns it, otherwise the poor would own the first crop, not the final.
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.
But the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the beasts of the field may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.
Also, helping the poor is paramount to serving God, Himself.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, …
My final point is to address what many believers claim as proof that socialism is God’s preferred lifestyle for his people.
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
I want you to pay special attention to every verse posted. In no verse posted here or elsewhere in the bible was there a mandate, license or permission to take what belongs to other people in order to give to the poor. What you see in Acts 4 is a group of voluntary believers who came together by choice to live in a communal fashion. They did not force nonbelievers into this lifestyle, nor prevented their own number from coming or going from the community.
God has offered us freedom in every aspect of our lives, and has never mandated that we control the behavior of those around us. Instead, he calls us to do it, ourselves.
Imagine, a society full of individuals, each choosing to help those in need. When a society institutionalizes helping the poor, individual charity drops. Why help the poor where there’s a government program to do that for you? It takes that personal decision to do it, yourself.
Is God socialist? He is capitalist? He’s neither. He’s God, and he’s calling you to be more, yourself. You don’t need government to help those in need, to love your neighbor, to be good to those around you. You just need to be willing to let God move through you, to step out with the blessings of your wealth, for it is not your wealth, it is not your government’s wealth.
It is all God’s, as are you. Live like it.