Is God a Capitalist?

As the old joke goes, “What is the difference between capitalism and socialism? Capitalism makes social mistakes while socialism makes capital mistakes.” So much of what we know about money and how to make it, save it, spend it, handle it, is wrapped up in our own economic background and our culture’s economic systems.

Have you ever wondered, what is God’s mindset when it comes to money? The Bible is filled with instruction from God on Money. One in ten verses in the Gospels (288 total) deal with the subject of money. The Bible has 500 verses on prayer, under 500 verses about faith, but an incredible 2,000-plus verses on money and possessions. Clearly God wants us to understand His thoughts on money. Perhaps because as our creator, God understands that whatever we treasure also guides our entire thought process. As Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

When we think about God and money, we might wonder where God stands with respect to our monetary systems and practices. Does the Bible tell us to be socialists, sharing all of our resources equally? Or does God encourage capitalism, being industrious individually and giving out of our hard work and prosperity? Are elements of God’s design for money reflected in any of our economic systems?

The simplest explanation of God’s view of money can be found in two verses in the Psalms. Instead of offering God’s program for money, they reveal God’s purpose for money. Psalm 67:1-2 says, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.”

The first verse confirms that indeed God does desire to bless us, and we should be thankful for the resources He gives us. Money is not a bad thing according to God, and working hard and accumulating resources is not bad either. The reality is that, as Creator, God’s view of money is beyond and above any economic system, or political structure, that we might assign to it as a nation or as a culture.

The key to understanding God’s view of money are the first two words of Psalm 67:2… “so that”. Because God is always interested in the “why”. Our blessings, resources, money—these have a purpose in God’s design: “so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” Our blessings are for His purposes. And because God’s purposes are above man’s purposes, that means His goals come before our comfort, our dreams, our desires, our families, our plans, and our own purposes.

When we ask God what He thinks about money in the context of our culture, His reply is to ask us what we think about Him with respect to our money. Psalm 67 flips the question and reorients our wallets. That’s why it’s such a simple explanation of God’s view of financial resources. And it demands that we ask of ourselves, “Am I first, above all other purposes, using my resources to advance God’s plan and agenda on earth?” Or, “Does the way I save and spend reflect God’s goals for His blessings in my life, or my goals for the riches He has blessed me with?”

Either way it’s asked, it’s a tough question. Anyone who has even a modest net worth spends time every now and then “taking stock”—an inventory of what you have, assets and liabilities, as you plan for today and tomorrow. When you take inventory of your assets, consider how they are being used, in the context of Psalm 67, and God’s priorities for His mission on earth. We are not promised a long life, or health, or riches or comforts in this world. But God promises His children riches and comforts beyond our imaginations in the next. Let your labors rest in the economy of God, valuing the people around you, the purpose He has given you, and working “so that” His name may be made known, near and far.