Monday, August 31, 2009

As Stewards of God's Gifts

I wrote the following as a comment on another comment on an article about the opposition between Socialism and Christianity. This is something I have pondered off and on, though my knowledge of economics is pretty limited, so I don't tend to take too strong a position on these matters.

This is one area where I think it may be right to behave one way in the political realm and another in the personal realm (though the law should support, rather than discourage the personal behavior).

Generally, I think it is best to vote like a capitalist, work like a capitalist, and live like a communist (by sharing what he has, not by thinking like an anti-Christian Marxist).

What I mean is that a free market is simply the most effective economic system, though it should be restrained by some degree of law, to avoid dangerous work conditions, for example.

But also, as Christians we must recognize that our wealth is given to us by God, not simply for our own good, but for the glory of God. Our wealth should thus be freely given to support the Church and to support the "widow and the orphan."

Of course, since it is to us that God has given the stewardship of these goods, it should be up to us how we use them, and it is not wrong to consider them our private property. We do have rights over what we have been given. But as stewards, we cannot imagine these gifts as being solely for our own pleasure.

God gives us graces so that we might pass them on. Then God will reward us with more abundant graces, though not necessarily of the same kind as those we passed on.

Now, this is one of those times when my advice is hard for me to follow, but with God, anything is possible. I must repeatedly remind myself:

"What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world..."

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