In a previous article, I pointed out how that gambling is sin. However, this could raise a question about the stock market: isn’t that a form of gambling since it seems to be built on chance, and the focus is making money?
Here are some observations regarding the stock market, as I understand it:
- The Bible is not against the idea of making money or having money.
“…the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”Proverbs 10:
The Bible does however warn against living for wealth and thinking inappropriately about wealth.
“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare…”1 Timothy 6:9
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches…”1 Timothy 6:17
Those two verses in First Timothy 6 showcase the distinction between making the acquisition of money your life’s pursuit, and thinking appropriately about the money that you have. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with making money or having money.
- The stock market is based on a system of buying and selling, not chance.
Clearly, there is nothing wrong with buying and selling “stuff” for profit. Elisha’s counsel to the widow was,
“Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.”2 Kings 4:7
The stock market just deals with “stuff” that is a bit less tangible. However, there is a clear, objective system for determining value, ownership, and bottom-line within the stock market. (I admit, however, that I am not fully knowledgeable about how those determinations are made.)
- Though there is risk in the stock market, there is the potential of recouping some financial investment.
There is nothing intrinsically (or scripturally) wrong with risk (another blog post to come, I’m sure). Gambling, however, is an all-or-nothing pursuit of wealth. That level of risk (when it comes to money) is foolish (Proverbs 1:14). Someone may argue, “Well, I know a man who lost everything in the stock market.” Individual instances of entire loss do not condemn the entire system. Furthermore, there may have been many reasons why someone lost all in the stock market. One reason could have been the level of risk in which that person engaged in the stock market.
- Accrual of interest was an acceptable form of dealing with money in the Bible.
Some people liken the stock market to “usury” in the Bible. The word “usury” refers to interest or fees on a loan or debt. However, in the Bible, God warns His people about exacting fines, taxes, or interest on acts of charity (“lending”) to those less fortunate.
“If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.”Exodus 22:25
“And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.Leviticus 25:35-37
Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.
Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.”
But, Jesus uses an illustration of “talents” (i.e., money) and suggests that the one man should have put his money to usury in order to gain or increase his initial investment.
“Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.”Matthew 25:27
So, exacting fines, taxes, and interest is wicked on acts of kindness or charity, but is acceptable in clear business transactions.
- The Bible encourages us to prepare for the future.
Spiritually speaking, by our motives, focus, and aims, we are to “lay up… treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-21). However, that does not negate the practical aspects of living and preparing in this life. Consider these verses:
“Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:Proverbs 6:10-11
So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.”
“The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.”Proverbs 30:25
The lazy person does not prepare when he should: he’s too busy sleeping. The ants are said to be “wise” (v. 24) because they prepare in the proper season. These are encouragements to us to prepare in the proper season of life.
“Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.”2 Corinthians 12:14
In 2 Corinthians, Paul is reiterating his policy of not accepting financial support from the Corinthian church (he “will not be burdensome” to them). The principle he quotes is that parents are to “lay up” (amass, or reserve) for the children and not the other way around. So, a parent’s preparation for his children’s future was not necessarily a bad thing.