Solomon on Income Inequality

“Also, every man to whom God has given wealth and affluence and the opportunity to eat from them and to take his portion and to rejoice in his anxieties — this is his gift from God.”

(Ecclesiastes 5:18 {5:19 in English Bibles})

It seems to me that people today are talking a lot about what they call “income inequality.” What they mean by that statement varies from person to person, but in the broadest sense, it simply means that some people have more money than others. And, were this a simple observation, it would not get a lot of press or excitement. Where it gets press and excitement is that there are some who think that they can change the scales, as it were, and take money from some to give it to others as a way of leveling the playing field. Of course, when the government mandates this, that is a form of socialism and socialism, as a political and economic movement, has been one of the most oppressive and murderous movements in the history of mankind (and normally creates an even greater distance between the “haves” and the have-nots” as it eliminates the middle class). 

Yet, that goes beyond our purpose as we look at this verse. Here, if you wish to view Solomon’s perspective on Income Inequality, we find it right here. Some will be poor and work hard for the bread they eat and others will be successful. This, Solomon says, is God’s doing — it is our portion in life, so enjoy what God has provided and give him thanks for it. With both wealth and poverty come advantages and challenges; make the most of them and glorify God in them. Don’t try and use power to steal from those who have more — theft is a sin as is covetousness. 

So, while some in our society will always rail against the wealthy, as Christians, let us hear the wisdom of Solomon and not be tempted into sin and evil. And, one of the glorious things about the American society is that for those who are willing to work hard and to sacrifice, there are always opportunities to work your way up from one economic class to another. In addition, when the free-market system in America is working the way it is supposed to do, then those who are lazy, corrupt, or who seek to manipulate the system always have the opportunity to lose everything, falling from one economic class to a lower one. That too may be our lot. Use it to the glory of God.

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