Power, Influence, Responsibility

From Gary North, Christian Economics: Student Edition: Chapter 16: Individual Covenant

This time, my comments are in italics.

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Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3–5).

Analysis

There is an innate desire in covenant-breaking people to avoid additional responsibility. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. It’s not my fault. It’s someone else’s fault. Yet at the same time, people want the blessings that always accompany responsibility. They want these blessings at zero cost or at least a steep discount.

I am a great believer in taking on additional responsibility. Taking on additional responsibility is an inescapable aspect of exercising dominion. I also take this attitude: as long as you are willing to take on additional responsibility, you might as well welcome the accompanying blessings. Use a share of these blessings as consumption items. But be sure to tithe, be sure to exercise charity, and be sure to save. I agree with John Wesley in Sermon 50 (1760): The Use of Money. He said this: gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can. But notice carefully: it takes additional responsibility to accomplish each of these goals.

We are not judicially responsible to God or man in those areas of life in which we have neither influence nor power. This is why everyone needs to take a careful inventory of those areas of life in which he has influence and power.

You are under the terms of four covenants: individual, family, church, and state. Only in rare cases are individuals outside of a family covenant: unmarried orphans. I assume that this is not you. I begin this section of this book with a discussion of the individual covenant. This is where you have the greatest responsibility. You know more about you than any other human being does. Where there is greater knowledge, there is greater responsibility (Luke 12:47–48).

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We are not responsible for the failure of our society.

But, we are responsible for our own failures: personally, familial, religious, and in work & business.

So, we should – after carefully counting the cost – work to change the things we can change. At a speed and price we can afford: year by year, decade by decade.

We have only a little power as children, but the seed is father to the tree. So we should grow as strong and straight as we can when we are a sapling, so we can become honest men, standing tall in the sight of God.

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You see yourself as a Christian. If you are a Christian, you have been baptized: an oath-sign. You have confirmed your judicial position covenantally, or else your parents did this on your behalf. You are therefore under the laws of the individual covenant. You are also under these laws’ sanctions. Furthermore, you take the Lord’s Supper: an oath-sign. Each Lord’s Supper renews your covenant. There is no escape. You are trapped. But you were also trapped under Adam’s covenant. We cannot escape from a personal covenant: either Adam’s or Christ’s. Christ’s is better.

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We are always under somebody’s authority.

Better to live and be governed under the authority of the just, holy, and reasonable King of Kings, Jesus Christ, than the arbitrary, lawless, and brutal (“anarcho-tyrannical”) authority of the enemies of God.

God is eternal. His enemies are not: the second death awaits them.

There is a difference between existing, and living.
God’s enemies will discover the difference.
Don’t be counted among them.

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A. Acknowledge God’s Sovereignty

Point one of the biblical covenant is God’s transcendence, but also His presence. It asks: “Who’s in charge here?” How does this apply to your economic affairs?

Every covenant has a sovereign. God is sovereign. There is no other. And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:1–3). God requires everyone to make this confession in history. Most people refuse. You have already confessed this publicly and judicially: baptism and communion. You must now think through every aspect of your life in terms of this confession. This includes economics.

God is sovereign over all economics. He is in control. This means that everyone must search the Bible to find out what God requires. Few people ever do this.

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To know what’s going on, you need to know Whose in charge.

And when you find your King, you need to know what His Commands are.

As you mature, you will gain a better sense of the Purpose he has, the Spirit behind the Law.

This allows a true Servant of God to make the right moves, when it comes to applying the general Law to a specific problem in life, time, and history.

Some servants need to be beaten, to chose the right thing. Others have a firm grasp of their Master’s will, and need only a touch, a hint, a bit of insight before knowing the right way forward.

Be a good servant to God. And He will be a good Father to you, His adopted child.

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You represent God in everything you do. Therefore, God’s public reputation is at stake. Covenant-breakers are ready to show contempt for God by way of showing contempt for you. Do not give them any opportunity by providing good cause for their scorn. Jesus provided the model in his representation of God the Father (John 14:8–9).

The strategy of dominion is service. This makes it more difficult for critics to criticize God by criticizing you. If you care for the weak and give to the poor, you will gain support, sometimes grudging. Grudging support is still support.

Power and influence flow to those who exercise responsibility. Most people prefer to limit their exposure to uncertainty. They prefer avoiding the limelight whenever public failure is a possibility. They want to avoid failure, but especially public failure. They fear the public’s imputation: “Loser!” They ignore God’s imputation: “Courageous!” God’s imputation is not yet public. So, they do not take responsibility when it is available. Yet there can be no organization or society that is not exposed to the uncertainties of life. So, there will always be opportunities to bear responsibility. Who will take charge? Covenant-keepers or covenant-breakers?

—<Quote ends>—

I do not believe that King Jesus has any intention of allowing a lying, murderous thief – and that liar’s willing servants – to keep his illegal hold on the nations and the world of men.

The wicked are going to lose – regardless of how they boast, and regardless of the whining chorus of despair that can be heard in far too many churches, from both pew and pulpit.

Engrave the below in your mind:

“The strategy of dominion is service. This makes it more difficult for critics to criticize God by criticizing you. If you care for the weak and give to the poor, you will gain support, sometimes grudging. Grudging support is still support.”

Know it. Live it.

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Continue your upward path to positions of influence, and perhaps even power. Do not grab the robes of authority prematurely. That was Adam’s sin. Here is the model.

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 14:7–11).

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Start small. Dream big. Work hard.

Earn your victories.

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You must stop asking the government for handouts. Do not vote for them. Do not support political candidates who promise them. Most important, you must stop deceiving yourself. You must stop trying to justify these handouts. You must stop saying to yourself: These are not political handouts. They are owed to me. They are moral obligations on the part of the government. Handouts are what all those other special-interest groups want. I am not like them. I am morally superior. My cause is morally superior to theirs. I deserve the money. So does my cause. No, you aren’t morally superior. No, you don’t deserve the money. No, your cause doesn’t, either.

Stop voting for government handouts of any kind.

[…]

Never vote for a bond issue that is not solving a true emergency. If some predictable project is worth doing, the government should have the money saved up to pay for it. Bond issues subsidize governments that refuse to set money aside. Governments ask for loans when they need extra money. They do not plan ahead. This is also what alcoholics do. It is what bums do.

There are private forms of theft. People borrow, but they do not repay. Here is what the psalmist said: The wicked borrows but does not pay back (Psalm 37:21a). This is a widespread sin in Christian circles. If you agree to do something, do it. If you sign a contract, fulfill it.

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Christians must live straight in their private lives.

And in their own business and jobs.

As this is done, and we hate and stop our own private theft, then we (or our descendants!) will in time get an opportunity to put an end to “legal”, socialist-welfare state theft.

The first must be done, before we can do the second.

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By paying your tithe to your local congregation, you do the following. First, you acknowledge that God is the source of your money. Second, you acknowledge that God has a legal claim on 10% as a covenantal obligation. Third, you acknowledge that the local congregation represents God covenantally. You are not lawfully in control over where this money goes. God is. He has designated the church: the common storehouse. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need (Malachi 3:11). There is only one designated storehouse. You choose which church to join. That is the limit of your authority to choose where your tithe money goes.

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While I do support the tithe, I don’t claim to have found a biblical basis to claim that it must be given to the institutional church. To understand North’s reasoning, see The Covenantal Tithe.

Note that I find Bojidar Marinov’s reasoning for refusing to back a divinely mandated tithe to the institutional church (as opposed to the church as the general Body of Christ) rather persuasive in his book One Holy Local Church?

That being said, I am a member of a denomination, attend church, do give the tithe, and am blessed for doing so.

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Point five of the biblical covenant is inheritance. It asks: “Does this outfit have a future?” How does this apply to your economic affairs?

You have a moral obligation to leave an inheritance to your covenant-keeping children. There should be no debate over this. A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous (Proverbs 13:22).

To leave an inheritance means that you must save more money than you spend. You must also invest wisely, so as not to lose this money. Every generation owes this to at least two generations down the covenant line: children’s children.

[…]

Even more important than money as a legacy is a Christian education. Parents should be sure that their children know the difference between secular humanism and Christianity. This is especially true in the debate over creationism vs. Darwinian evolution. Children should understand that the two worldviews are not compatible. The tax-funded public schools teach evolutionism. In the United States, teaching any view other than evolutionism is prohibited by law.

—<Quote ends>—

Money is good, but understand how reality works is better.

Having both is best.

—<Quote begins>—

Each individual is responsible before God to bring his thoughts and deeds into conformity to biblical law. This includes economics.

Each individual is also required to think through the presuppositions and implications of whatever he has been taught about how the world works. If he has been taught by evolutionists, he has a lot of re-thinking to do.

This book is my attempt to think through economics from a creationist, providentialist, anti-evolution mindset. Evolutionists have discovered accurate facts about how the world works. They have offered theories of how the world works that are compatible with what Christianity teaches. “You shall not steal means” much the same for a free market humanist as it does–or should–to a Christian. But when it comes to explaining why we should not steal, and what we risk if we do steal, the humanist economist and the Christian economist do not agree. When Adam Smith wrote about the invisible hand, he did not have in mind this invisible hand: “Stretch out your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me from the many waters, from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood” (Psalm 144:7-8).

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Don’t fall for the sin that poisoned Adam and all his descendants, and also murdered uncounted millions in history.

(Communism’s 100 million+ death toll is only a portion of all those who died because their wealth, lives, and liberty were unlawfully stolen from them.)

Don’t steal.

And don’t steal your stuff back, either.

Buy your stuff, your liberty, your prosperity back.

Christ redeems – buys back – what is stolen, giving His life to God the Father for the evil we did.

(Satan is a squatter, on stolen land, stolen lives, stolen wealth. He gets nothing.)

We are to follow the example Christ set for us, as true adopted brothers and sisters of the Only Begotten Son of God.

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