Several years ago I published an article in a magazine affiliated with a Christian family magazine in New Jersey. It was titled “Economics According to Judas.” I thought it would be appropriate to resurrect it for The Lazarus Chronicles.
The Bible has a lot to say about money as well as economic policy. We know that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” from 1 Timothy 6:10. We also know that fair weights and measures were commanded by the Law of Moses in which God demonstrated his concern for a just monetary policy. The Law recognized that money would always be a part of society and sought to regulate it. Regulating inflation today may fall under God’s concern for a just policy. (See “Theft by Inflation” in Touchstone Magazine.)
We live in a time when many advocate for an equal distribution of wealth, the socialist Utopian dream of everyone having access to what others produce. What sounds like justice and compassion by sharing the money pie is actually stealing from those who produce it and giving it to those who don’t. As former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher used to say, “Socialism is great until you run out of other people’s money to spend.”
The English Standard Version translates Psalm 94:20 in this way, “Can wicked rulers be allied with you [God], those who frame injustice by statute?” In other words, unjust policies can be just another means of cheating and stealing. My original article on Judas exposes what is going on in the minds of some who establish bad economic policies. (I’ve split the original article into two parts.)
My Original Article
It is not only in modern society that people have focused on money matters. Well before Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations people understood the importance of and maintained a philosophy about money. Consider Judas. Though we remember him as the one who betrayed Jesus, we also know him from John 12:1-8. Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume and Judas objected claiming the money should have gone to the poor. John disputed his motive for this noble assertion, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6).
Defender of the Poor or Common Thief
Though he cloaked himself in the role of defender of the poor, underneath it Judas was nothing more than a common thief. The story drips with irony: a thief, by definition a person who confiscates other people’s money for himself, expressed indignation that someone else didn’t get the money. And how controversial that the very first “church treasurer” turns out to be an embezzler! Given what we know from this episode the foundations of the first treasure’s economic plan should be scrutinized.
First, Covet What Others Have
The first principle of his economic platform was: covet other people’s money. John comments that Judas’ primary motivation was stealing, and thieves necessarily begin by violating the Tenth Commandment; do not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor. Stealing is merely the next logical step. The power of coveting as an economic policy—personal or corporate—sets a whole string of evils to work. Often the person who covets is happy with two scenarios. One, he wants to possess what he covets, and two, he will be almost as happy if the object of his covetousness is simply denied the person who presently owns it. People who covet are often just angry at others and reserve their most vicious attacks for the person who has what they don’t have.
© 2023 Robert T. Weber, The Lazarus Chronicles, and Words Done Right LLC
Tune in next week for Part II.