President Obama is wrong. The goal of good public policy is not to reduce income inequality but to remove the barriers to upward mobility. Redistribution doesn’t solve the problem. True concern for the poor requires that we help people achieve financial independence. By encouraging economic growth and promoting the stabilizing institutions of the family, the church, and local schools, we create an environment in which people flourish, poverty rates plummet, and prosperity abounds.
But isn’t the Bible against trying to increase financial resources? If I had a dollar for every one of my college professors who told me that “the Bible says money is the root of all evil,” I could have taken my friends out for a very nice meal. When I finally got smart enough to study it myself, I discovered that the Bible doesn’t say any such thing. The love of money — not money itself — is the root of evil.
The Bible is not anti-money. It is anti-idolatry. God is generous in providing the resources needed to advance His kingdom, but he opposes those who divert those resources to self-worship. The problem with the rich young ruler confronted by Jesus was not that he had money, but that he exalted his money above God. In the words of Bernard of Clariveaux, “he did not own his possessions; they owned him.”
Scripture’s primary weapon against idolizing money is generosity. “God will generously provide all you need,” Paul writes. “Then you will have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others” (2 Corinthians 9:8). Scripture especially emphasizes being generous with those who have been downtrodden (Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 1 John 3:17).
And guess what? Generous people are happy people. I’ve observed this personally just in the last couple of weeks of visiting with individuals who have provided scholarships to send students to our summer conferences. Every one of these donors told me they experience joy when they give because they know they are investing in future leaders who can make this country a better place.
And it is working. Last week, a dad wrote to me about his son who had received a scholarship last year to attend Summit: “When he came home, he was energized and pumped up in a way he hadn’t been before. He had a better understanding of his place in the world, his ability to have an effect, and how subtly culture permeated thoughts and decisions. His priorities changed, and his desire was to see what God had for him.” And thanks to the generosity of our donors, this young man’s younger brother will have an opportunity to attend a Summit conference this year. Who wouldn’t feel joy in knowing they helped these brothers become “double trouble” for Satan’s kingdom?
If you know of young people who ought to attend this summer, please get them in touch with us right away. We are on pace for record enrollment but still have seats available in Colorado (late summer), in Tennessee (July), and in California (June).
On behalf of our Summit team, I want to express how grateful we are to these generous givers. It fills us with a sense of humility and resolve, and a desire to do everything within our power to prepare godly, courageous leaders for these desperate times.