For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-8 (NIV).
Rush Limbaugh is fond of telling the true story of Thanksgiving. He even wrote a children’s book about it. Without diving into politics, the gist of the story is this: the Pilgrims resorted to the concept of trusting God while “working for one’s self” in matters of earning a living and providing food to eat. They had tried communal pooling of everything and nearly starved. The next season, they scrapped this socialistic approach, accepted help from friendly Indians, and began to practice free-market capitalism. This soon thrived. At the end of the growing year, they held a giant feast to thank God and celebrate all the ways He had provided for them. Within a few years, the indebted Pilgrims had repaid in full the English and Dutch sponsors who had been their financial backers.
It seems the Pilgrims put 2 Thessalonians 3 into practice.
Now, even I am not going to try to justify capitalism with the Bible. Instead, let’s focus on the idea that God gives us talents to provide for us. Further, especially when in the company of strangers, He gives us talents and abilities to prove ourselves to these strangers so that His word may spread from credible sources. Paul was a tentmaker and worked as such to earn his way in Thessalonica so that his expenses and living wouldn’t be a burden to newly-made friends and believers. He would pay his own way so that he would also have the available resources to continue his ministry unimpeded.
All because he could work using the talent that God gave him. Paul could earn a living, spend his earnings on Kingdom work, and thrive. Sounds pretty capitalist to me.
Again, my purpose isn’t to defend capitalist, though the combination of freedom, capitalism, and Judeo Christian fundamentals have done more to advance the human condition than anything else in all of human history. Instead, this is a reminder that God gives you interests, talents, knowledge, abilities as a means to provide for you. Like to play video games? Figure out a way to make a living at it. Like to write? Write a blog or a book and sell them. Good with wood-working? Make furniture and sell it. Paul and Rush would agree: what you’re doing is actually glorifying God by using what He gave you for His good.
For further reading: 1 Corinthians 4:16, Acts 18:3, Ephesians 4:28, 2 Thessalonians 3:9.
Lord, thank You and I praise You for the talents you give to me. Help me today to use them to your glory and for my godly benefit as well as to benefit others around me.