Wealth Creation and the Poor
God has always shown a concern for the poor. It is clear in laws, commands, and prophetic actions in the Old Testament. Jesus and the New Testament affirm this. Jesus even emphasized the critical importance of concern for the poor and needy from the very outset of his ministry (cf Luke 4:18-19). Thus, as the Wealth Creation Manifesto states, ‘wealth creation must always be pursued with justice and a concern for the poor.’
The church has for 2,000 years practically demonstrated love for the poor, albeit primarily through charity responses. The report gives some glimpses of these interventions.
Poverty can be seen as the absence of shalom (peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, and safety) in all its meanings. It is not just a matter of money; it can also include spiritual and social poverty. The report also discusses the difference between absolute and relative poverty, as well as various causes to poverty.
From the Manifesto: ‘Wealth creation through business has proven power to lift people and nations out of poverty.’
History clearly shows that increased production of goods and services lift people and nations out of poverty. There is biblical support for this strategy. This kind of wealth creation is correlated with life expectancy, less diseases, higher literacy, and healthier environment. Aid alone cannot achieve this.
The church has most often ‘responded to poverty and suffering through charity and aid for temporary and short-term relief. Yet, more often than not, that response has not addressed long-term needs, such as employment, and even worse, these interventions have hurt detrimentally instead of helping.’
Historically, the church has mainly been involved in wealth distribution, and overlooked the importance of wealth creation. ‘Imagine the increase in impact if the church fully embraced its mission to create wealth in addition to the distribution of wealth.’
Our individual response to poverty is reviewed from various aspects, whether we are rich or poor.
This report goes on to argue for a ‘need to continue making this crucial shift, from the giver-receiver mentality to a truly dignified approach to walk alongside people as they work themselves out of poverty.’ To that end, ‘it is time to engage, affirm and support a global movement of entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes.’
We recognize the intimate relationship between work and worship. God created us to be creative, also in business; and wealth can and should be created. From the Manifesto: ‘Wealth creation is a holy calling, and a God-given gift, which is commended in the Bible.’
Wealth creation is good when done for God and for people. ‘God is not opposed to money and wealth, but he is opposed to wealth wrongfully gained and wrongful attitudes towards it. However, for the purpose of this paper, we are focusing on wealth that honors God in its creation as well as distribution.’
The report also deals with prosperity theology and liberation theology. It examines these concepts through the lens of the biblical creation mandate.
Entrepreneurs, professionals and businesses are essential for the creation of wealth. From the Manifesto: ‘Good business has intrinsic value as a means of material provision and can be an agent of positive transformation in society.’
But the report also covers the crucial role of government for property laws and security, for infrastructure and education, as well as the importance of rule of law.
As we do business, we create financial, social, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual wealth. . . . The wealth we create has the potential to make a great difference in the lives of individuals, families, and communities. The gift and calling to create wealth is beyond a microfinance loan or a single small or medium-sized business. It is about building nations and seeking the welfare of communities.