God’s Economics – Collateral

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

One of the important ingredients in economics is an understanding of collateral. The world has one view—God’s economics has quite a different perspective.

The world’s economics have gotten into trouble because collateral has been taken lightly. We are seeing what happens when money is loaned to people who do not have proper collateral. The subprime loans, mortgage lending, creative financing, etc. have helped cause the bottom to drop out of our economy.

God’s economics teaches us that with God you don’t have to put up anything. All you have to do is to confess what God wants you to do, then do it. The only collateral used in God’s economics is what I say and what I do.

Read Matthew 21: 28-31. Jesus told a parable about a man who had two sons. He asked both of them to go to work in his business. One of them said, “Sure dad, I would be glad to go to work. I look forward to working in your business.” But he decided not to go. The second one had a different attitude. He said, “Dad, I don’t care about working for you today,” but later he changed his mind and went to work.

Jesus then challenged the crowd by asking the question, “Which of those sons did what his father expected, the one who said he would do it, but did not, or the one who at first declined, but then followed through and performed?” Collateral in God’s economics is commitment with integrity. It is obedience. It is not just talking, but walking.

Malachi makes this very clear in Malachi 3, when he raises the question about robbing God. The people insist they had not robbed God. Malachi makes it clear that their command was to bring the tithe into the storehouse and the people of Israel had not done this. He even invites the nation to test His economic policy.

As always, God offers a second chance. He does this through Malachi when he invites them to do what he has told them and then gives them a promise that He will open up the windows of heaven and pour blessing like they have never known. That is God’s economics.

In the 1830’s, John D. Rockefeller was born in New York. He became interested in crude oil production. In 1878, he formed the Standard Oil Company.

He became the largest producer of crude oil in the United States, then ventured out into other things. He was a very successful businessman.

When he retired in 1911 he was worth $1 billion. When asked about his secret of success Rockefeller said, “When I was a child I was taught that everything I had was a gift from God. God gave me talent in order to use it, but it is to be returned to Him, so I started returning 10% of everything that He allowed me to make. I have always done that.”

When Rockefeller retired over half of what he earned had been given away. Someone commented, “It is easy to tithe if you have a billion dollars.”

A lot of people reading this would say that you would do it if you had billion dollars. Mr. Rockefeller replied by saying, “I started out making $1.50 a week. The first $1.50 I got I gave a tenth to my church.” He said, “If I had not started tithing on $1.50 a week, I would not be able to tithe on a billion dollars today.”

Understanding collateral is essential to understanding God’s economics. It is not anything tangible that you put up—it is a commitment to be faithful and obedient.

God’s view on collateral has worked for thousands of years and will continue to work forever. “Creative financing” will always have a hole in it and will never substitute for “commitment and integrity.”

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