7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
Lionel Robbins gave the classic definition of economics: "Economics is the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses." To define economics as a science is practical and well-meaning, and serves as the basis for quantitative analysis taught in business schools. There’s just one problem—it’s founded on the utterly unbiblical axiom that scarcity drives human behavior, and the corollary that humanity’s fundamental problem is a lack of material goods.
The biblical account of creation and our place in it teaches a very different story—the story of a gracious God who provides abundantly, who invites people to be fruitful and multiply, and whose commandments are designed to establish an economy wherein everyone has enough. This is the same God who rained down bread from heaven to feed a hungry people with “manna” in the desert [Ex. 16:15, 31], and the same Jesus who became himself the bread of life [John 6:35-59]. Jesus turns scarcity thinking on its head in the parable of the talents [Matt. 25:14-30], teaching that those who spread wealth are rewarded while those who hoard it are punished.
There is no “dismal science” in these economic ideas set forth in the Bible; rather, there is an overarching abundance of God’s grace to sustain all creatures great and small. Jesus revealed God’s intent when he said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” [v. 10]
So what does this have to do with business? It’s a fair question, because Jesus is not giving business advice per se; he speaks of the greater reality of the source and meaning of living a fulfilled life. However, this bigger issue matters immensely for business, because it pushes ethical considerations to the front of the line. Ethics in business should be based on a mentality of abundance which trusts God to show up and deliver what is needed. Our job is to make righteous decisions, in faith, and not be distracted by the sort of fear and greed that too often accompany scarcity thinking.
Think about it—business people typically get into trouble when they operate out of a scarcity mentality, trying to grab for more advantage or more profit than is necessary—or right. That path leads to cheating on taxes and financial scandals large and small.
Praying for God’s will to be done, and trusting in his economy of grace, is the righteous path and the road that leads to abundant life.
 Lionel Robbins, An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science (London: Macmillan, 1932), p. 16.
© Bruce D. Baker, 2014