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Why We Earn?

The Believer's Long Term View

· Biblical Economics

Why Earn? This might sound like one of those so called "dumb questions." Or perhaps a statement from Captain Obvious. However the profundity of a clear answer to the question is the key to better decisions to so many aspects of our professional and economic lives.

There are some common responses that while true still miss the mark of a profound answer.

  • Gotta eat!
  • Gotta make a living, or
  • Provide for my family;
  • finance my lifestyle; 
  • there is no romance without finance;
  • I want stuff!

All these responses are sufficient and typical motivators for most of us. Yet, for those of us whose lives are governed by the Word of God, the answer is more fundamental.

A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. (Proverbs 13:22 NIV)

Ok! I guess I need to qualify this proverb. It only applies to "good persons." Or, at least those desiring a good life. I suppose this means you else you probably wouldn't be reading this.

I have no problem taking the Word literally, especially where it can be understood literally. This hermeneutic rule #1. So, I've applied this to my children. They understand that the inheritance that we leave will not be for them, but for their children. Sorry! We are working and earning for our grandchildren. Of course, we have provided for our children and raised them in the fear and admonition for the Lord. They have been blessed with a fantastic foundation to become like-minded, God-fearing "Good people." Just like the Huxtables, we even corrected them when they referred to the home that they were raised in as "their house." "No, this is your mother's and My house. Just keep your room in our house clean." Perhaps this is too strict of an interpretation for you. However, they, got the point and are working wisely to get their own. So, we pray for the girl's husbands until they appear, and our son's wife until he finds her. These young people and future parents will have an inheritance to handle wisely.

I wonder if you and I would have thought differently about our careers in the beginning if we had the transcendental cause of our grand-children's inheritance in mind at the onset. Would we have trained, earned, saved differently? Perhaps. I was sufficiently motivated by my father's repeated exhortation of "I want you all to have more and do more than we did." Isn't it the goal of every generation, to do better than the previous? It kinda works, but it still a bit short sided. I confess. I was not thinking about grandchildren when began my career. I probably could have easily listed the stuff I wanted to acquire, but I was a generation or two off target. Thank God, I found a wife, and began saving, and investing. Along the way, I grew my commitment to the Lord and I learned His long-term view of trans-generational wealth transfer.

The long term, multi-generational view is better. A short-term perspective might cause you to trade your inheritance for a pot of beans. Esau clearly was thinking this way when he got "hangry" and traded away his blessing. Most of us read that story of his trading his blessing with Jacob, and think, "what a dumbell, I would never do that." Yet, we are constant consumers of the short term mentality. It’s difficult in the uber-consumption world we live in. There is pervasively constant conditioning to get more, now. Why wait? Get it now! stick your hopes in the microwave. Set it for 1 minute. Ok, that’s enough-take it out in 45 seconds. Ever do that? I do. Today's hunger will pass. God's promise for our good future and well-being shall come to pass in due time. We have good futures as we learn to defer gratification. Else we just get beans and our grandchildren will just get our dead instagrams.

So, in keeping with the strict scriptural interpretation, we earn to leave an inheritance for our grandchildren. Hence, we must think for the long term. We must sow, and invest for their futures.

I wanna be a "good person!" How about you?

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