Developed nations seem to have it all. Wealth, luxury, material goods and modern conveniences. However, the one thing they lack is rest.
Do you feel like you are always working to simply pay for what you bought in the past? Are you dogged tired after laboring to afford your past pleasure?
This is due, in part, to an economic problem … a spiritual problem.
John Law (1671-1729) was an economist whose ideas shaped western nations and their banking systems to this very day. Money, for most of history, was an actual good or asset (metals, gems, tools, animals, produce, property, etc.). John Law formulated and put into practice the trading of “future production.” In other words, trading what does not exist currently but will … probably.
As Christians, we are called to be honest in our dealings, including those in the marketplace (Pro. 16:11). When we buy a good, we have given something in exchange for that good.
Modern governments and financial institutions have implemented the ideas of John Law, requiring citizens and users to “cash in” on future production. When Christians adopt these methods as well, we have failed in our calling to legitimate trade. Here’s how:
First of all, we often pay for things we cannot afford, so we pay with money we do not have. And then we fail to pay our debts. When this happens, either the original merchant loses what is owed him because the debtor will not pay and files bankruptcy, or the merchant must sell that debt to someone else for far less than he is owed because the debtor will not pay him back.
Secondly, trading on the future creates unrest. The brother of Jesus had something to say about presuming future wealth, and we have even gone a step further in our presumption:
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.'”
In our modern culture, we are trading on presumption, empty promises, and fiat creation (which is an act only God can truly perform). This cultivates a culture of unrest. We must work hard in the present for past pleasures purchased with future slavery.
Last of all, trading on future production results in the consumption, rather than the growth of a nation’s capital. R.J. Rushdoony points this out very clearly:
Law’s doctrine that money should be established upon the evidence of commercial wealth, actual or potential, upon land and its potential, or upon the potentials of industrial productivity. This means a nonconvertible currency; it also means a restless society. Such a view of money means that society must forever boom or face collapse. The economics of Law is inflationary: it requires a continual boom, and any abatement thereof leads to a bust or collapse. Because of the inflation of the money (i.e., of a paper assurance of potential production), the economy moves forward rapidly. But the paper money assumes a potential production; it produces, however, an actual consumption, so that it creates a consuming rather than a producing economy. It decapitalizes instead of capitalizing. Its end is destruction.
Excerpt From Law & Society: The Institutes of Biblical Law Vol. 2, R. J. Rushdoony
If your future production is being consumed in the present, then what is there in the future but continual catch-up! This creates an enslaved economy and people.
“A just balance and scales are the Lord‘s; all the weights in the bag are his work.” Proverbs 16:11
Our dealings should be honest; and so should our mediums of exchange.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
God intends for rest to permeate our work week.
So how do we move away from the influence of John Law towards a more Biblical economy?
First, we must look at creating alternative payment methods that do not depend on banks (independent companies with a similar utility such as PayPal and Stripe). We should also look into putting fiat money into something that can store value such as hard metals, productive property, etc. or even a family business. Our medium of trade (what we give in exchange for something) shouldn’t have value based on what it may yield in the future but on current production.
Second, as Christians, we must work and rest. It is the pattern of productivity we learn from God’s act of creation (Genesis 1). It is also commanded of us (Deuteronomy 20:8-11). So what does this look like?
- We must work harder than what most consider to be hard work. Perhaps we must even work longer to be productive and provide for our families and grow the Kingdom.
- We must be diligent in our rest. Taking our hands off the plow (or keyboard, steering wheel, or whatever else we use in our callings) helps us remember that God is our Provider and the fruit of our labor is ultimately from God. The world still spins even when we sit and rest.
“The Lord’s Day, the Christian sabbath, celebrates the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death. On that day, we celebrate His victory and ours, and we rest confident in our victories to come in Him.”
– From, Law & Society: The Institutes of Biblical Law Vol. 2, R. J. Rushdoony
Do you operate under a personal economy of destruction?
If we work to purchase more debt or to pay for past pleasures we could not afford, then our work is in vain. It will only result in destroying rest for ourselves and those that we provide for. Work hard, pay for what you can afford, invest what you can lose, and rest knowing that God will bring about victorious fruit from your obedient labor to Him.