The Christian Conception Of Wealth -- By: Charles C. Merrill

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 056:222 (Apr 1899)
Article: The Christian Conception Of Wealth
Author: Charles C. Merrill

The Christian Conception Of Wealth1

Rev. Charles C. Merrill

Second Paper


The Christian, then, is not to have his heart set upon wealth, but still he is not to separate himself from it. Under such circumstances, what is he to do with it?

In general, it may be said that he is to look upon his actual possessions or his capacity for acquiring wealth as a trust, not at all as belonging to himself or subject to his own disposition. This principle of stewardship is taught in the parable of the talents or pounds (Luke 19:11–27; Matt. 25:14–302 ). Although the reference here is not to wealth alone, that is certainly included; and the teaching regarding it is, that men are not to consider it as their own, but as entrusted to them by a Master, who will hold them to strict account for their manner of using it. This is also the basis of the parable of the Unrighteous Steward (Luke 16:1–8), where it is distinctly implied that the dis-

ciples of Christ are like the steward in one respect, at least; in this, namely, that the goods they handle are not to be thought of as their own, any more than he had a right to regard as belonging to himself that portion of his master’s property over which he had been set. He was only a steward; and they are only stewards. The passage concerning faithfulness in the use of the unrighteous mammon which seems to be a comment on this parable (Luke 16:9–12) likewise suggests that men are to manage their property not as possessors, but as trustees. By their faithful service in this capacity in the lower order they are to show their worthiness of a similar position in the higher realm.

The chief reason for the truth of this principle is, of course, the fact that this is God’s world, that everything in it belongs to him, since through him it all came into existence and he has made over his rights in it to no one. The psalmist was giving utterance to no mere poetic fancy when he said, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps. 24.). But another reason why a man should look on the wealth he may happen to have as not his own, is that he has come into possession of it as a member of society, and without its aid his gains, if any, would have been much smaller than they now are. To say nothing of the protection which one rece...

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