Justice and Fairness in Action

Colossians, Money, Thoughts, Work
A recent article in The Tennessean, Nashville's daily newspaper, highlighted the housing challenge for low income workers.  A study found that the average wage needed to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Nashville is $13.75 per hour ($16.35 for a two-bedroom).  This $13.75 per hour is not only about double the minimum wage, but is $1.94 per hour greater than the state average income.  This housing difficulty for low wage workers is just one of the symptoms of our out-of-whack income inequality in this country. But one man is doing something about it.  Dan Price, founder of Gravity Payments, a credit card processing firm based in Seattle, recently announced a startling new wage structure for his company.  Last month, Mr. Price set out on a plan to raise the salary of…
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Justice and Fairness in the Workplace

Colossians, Money, Thoughts, Work
Now let's turn to the big picture of "Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you have a Master in heaven" (Col 4:1).  We have a big problem in this country with income inequality.  We have all seen the statistics that compare executive pay to the lowly wages of the worker bees.  And I will not belabor the point except to summarize that the low end of the economic food chain in this country is grossly underpaid compared to what they contribute.  Free-market capitalism in our wage structure - that is, paying the lowest wage possible that the market will support to hire my workers - is one of the principle drivers of this inequality. But the biblical position is not free-market capitalism in the wage structure,…
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With Justice and Fairness

Colossians, Money, Thoughts, Work
"Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you have a Master in heaven" (Col 4:1).  Our last post covered the responsibility of workers to do their work heartily.  Today, we look at the flip side; the responsibility of employers to treat their employees with justice and fairness. In our rush to join American-style capitalism with American-style Christianity, we are quick to defend a business's right to maximize their profit.  We are quick to point out the requirement that "he who doesn't work, shouldn't eat", highlighting the need for a diligent workforce.  But the responsibility to treat the workforce with justice and fairness may be one of the most overlooked teachings in the New Testament.  There is a big picture aspect to this question that we will tackle later.  But for…
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Following the New Testament Money Trail

Money, Thoughts
What started as a post about "Wealth with Wings" and putting our financial eggs in God's basket has morphed into a series of posts following just a small section of the New Testament money trail (hopefully not a rabbit trail).  I think the length was necessary to really get us thinking about the seriousness of what Jesus said about investing our money.  I hope you have picked up some food for thought along the way. In practical terms, what might this "send it on ahead" approach to financial planning look like in today's world.  Keeping in mind the admonition to use our wealth to make friends that will welcome us into the eternal dwellings, it might look like this: It might be sponsoring a child in an impoverished country, providing…
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Money and the Early Church

Money, Thoughts
The most quoted passage in the New Testament describing the early church is Acts 2:42-47.  "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.  And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.  Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord was adding to…
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Laying up Treasure in Heaven

Money, Thoughts
We closed last time with the idea that adopting a "send it on ahead" investment strategy for our finances is a matter of faith.  But is it safe to say it may be a matter of faith, but it is not necessarily a matter of obedience?  After all, isn't this revolutionary approach to financial planning just one of the choices among many that we are free to consider? Recall Jesus' summary statement regarding His Sermon on the Mount teaching about money, “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys" (Lk 12:33).  Later in the same gospel, Luke records this observation from our Master, “And [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich…
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“Send it on Ahead” Investing

Money, Thoughts
I am always a little nervous about books that identify Jesus' management style or put Jesus in the CEO chair.  While we should always run our companies by godly principles, Jesus did not come to earth to start a business.  He came to launch a kingdom.  But He did promote a financial investment strategy for His kingdom citizens.  I call "send it on ahead" investing.  And I asked last post why we don't see this strategy advertised, particularly in the Christian community, as much as traditional financial instruments. First, we are uncomfortable with the "send it on ahead" approach because the results are intangible.  We can't measure the rate of return on using money to "make friends that will welcome us into the eternal dwellings." (Lk 16:9).  At least, not in…
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A Revolutionary Investment Strategy

Money, Thoughts
Jesus said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Mt 6:19-21).  Is there a specific way to “lay up treasure in heaven”? Jesus addressed this question a little later in His ministry with this story, “Now He was also saying to the disciples, ‘There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and this steward was reported to him as squandering his possessions.  And he called him and said to him, “What is this I hear about you?  Give an account of your stewardship, for you…
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Wealth with Wings

Money, Thoughts
The recent financial news in this country brings to mind these Proverbs, “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it.  When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.  For wealth certainly makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens” (Pr 23:4-5).  Have you ever had a financial planner tell you that your wealth may sprout wings and fly away? OK, maybe that is covered in the disclaimer about risk.  But seriously, putting our trust in our money not only places an idol in God’s rightful place in our hearts, but it also is labeled as foolish throughout the Proverbs.  While it may not be our conscious motive, many of us plan our finances such that if God goes out of…
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