And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
I wanted to take a detour from my journey to discuss something that has been on my mind regarding the nexus between the Bible and economics and morality. This will happen often so do not be surprised or puzzled.
The parable of the talents is a story that I have always looked to for an indication about what the Bible says about income inequality. I believe it shows that it is not the problem that people make it out to be. However, I think that the Bible does show that it can be a symptom of a problem that we do need to resolve.
Our theologically and/or politically liberal friends view income inequality as a social injustice that must be rectified. They have been very successful in that it seems natural for us to view such inequality as unfair. We believe in the equality of men and that no one is inherently entitled to more than anyone else because of their birth, race, gender, other arbitrary characteristic. But there is one fatal flaw in the argument.
The problem with this perspective is that it confuses equity with equality. It says that inequality is necessarily, and inherently, wrong. Since all men are created equal they must all be equal in terms of material wealth. While we would like everyone to enjoy a quality of life that meets certain basic necessities and provides some physical comfort the Bible does not go as far as those on the Left go.
This parable shows, among other scriptures, that God does not distribute His gifts equally to all His people. We are not equal in many respects. Everyone is not equally skilled in athletics, academics, art, or strength. And not everyone is equally wealthy. We can easily think of examples of Godly men and women who were both wealthy and poor. Abraham and Solomon were very rich and Jesus and John the Baptist were poor.
We must keep our focus on a person’s spiritual condition. For those who do not believe the most pressing issue is their salvation, more important than their physical needs. Among believers the main concern is whether we are using the gifts that God has given us to be fruitful and produce a return on His investment. God also shows us that our tendency is to neglect the vulnerable among us which include the poor, orphans, and widows. To deny them justice and even to take advantage of them is an evil that God will avenge.
Jesus taught us to seek the kingdom first, and His righteousness, and trust that God will provide for our physical needs. He may call us to a life in which we are blessed financially or He may call us to a life of poverty. We have to be willing to follow the Lord in either scenario and be content. That is by no means an easy thing to do but the Holy Spirit enables us to do the will of God and please Him. And by pleasing Him we discover our true purpose and joy in this life.