The Bible and Financial Concepts Essay Paper
The Bible and Financial Concepts
The Bible is quite clear on how one should orient oneself in this life towards Heaven and pursuing the kingdom of God (Matt 6:33). However, in the financial world of today, this orientation can easily be lost as secular goals replace spiritual ones. This paper will address the issue of profit maximization, insider trading, and how to convert a sinner from a Biblical perspective to show why orienting oneself towards the Heaven is so important for oneâ€™s spiritual life.
Profit maximization by itself is an inappropriate goal because it is not connected to the moral or spiritual purpose of life, as indicated in Matt. 16:26: â€œFor what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?â€ One who dedicates his life simply to storing up riches for himself here on earth is missing the ultimate goalâ€”which is union with God in heaven for all eternity. If one truly wants to maximize profit, one will focus on spiritual profits that emanate from doing good works to others. As Christ stated, anyone who wants to do Godâ€™s will must love God and love his neighbor, as these are the two greatest commandments (Mark 12:30-31).
The problem with focusing wholly on profit maximization as a goal in and of itself is that it separates the idea of doing good unto shareholders from a spiritual goodâ€”i.e., from doing good for oneâ€™s soul. Oneâ€™s soul benefits from grace, and one must be corresponding with Godâ€™s will to make use of grace. When one aims to distort markets or to exaggerate a companyâ€™s value by artificially boosting a stockâ€™s price either through buybacks or through quantitative easing, one sends false signals into the market which, while certainly boosting shareholder wealth in the short term, do not reflect the reality of the companyâ€™s underlying condition (Heller, 2017; Van Lerven, 2016).
Moreover, chasing shareholder wealth exclusively to all other goals is the same as putting profits before people. It is a secular rather than a spiritual goal. Christ did not say, â€œLove God, and chase profits second.â€ He said, â€œLove God, and love your neighbor,â€ indicating that when one does right by God and oneâ€™s neighbors, good things will come his way. As Matthew 6:33 states, â€œBut seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,â€ when one seeks first the kingdom of God, all else will be added unto one. In other words, by putting God and people first, profits will follow of their own accord, just as the Bible has promised. It is a matter of prioritizingâ€”and making profits the one and only goal is to place oneâ€™s soul in jeopardy.
Insider trading occurs when an individual, acting on inside information that is not accessible by the public, trades shares accordingly by either buying or selling. It is quite a common phenomenon that rarely goes punished (Agrawal & Cooper, 2015). Many companyâ€™s executivesâ€”to the tune of hundreds of themâ€”engage in earnings manipulation to inflate the stock price so that they can sell their shares at an inflated price (Agrawal & Cooper, 2015). The government agency responsible for protecting against the unethical practice of insider trading is the SECâ€”Securities and Exchange Commission. As Pritchard (2016) points out, â€œCongress has never enacted a prohibition against insider trading, much less defined it. Instead, the SEC has led in defining insider trading, albeit without the formality of rulemaking, and subject to varying degrees of oversight by the courtsâ€ (p. 55). Many individuals in government are often accused of insider trading, which shows how unethical the Justice System is, or, as Gerald Celente calls it, the â€œJust Us Systemâ€ as in the ones running the show are typically exempt from all accountability. Hillary Clintonâ€™s stock trading history for instance involving cattle futures which allowed her to turn a small amount of money into a nice big chunk of change is one case (Minor, 2016).
However, when Martha Stewart was convicted of insider trading it was another matter entirely: she did not have â€œprotectedâ€ status. Indeed, the case of Salman v. United States showed that gifting confidential information to other was a violation of securities lawâ€”and so Stewart was punished, as there was evidence showing she had been gifted the information. It is called being â€œfriends with benefits,â€ according to Becker (2016). Usually, friends donâ€™t let friends go to jail, which is why Hillary and many others have avoided prosecution and why Elon Musk only received a slap on the hand for his blatant market manipulation earlier this year in an attempt to â€œburn the shorts.â€ Musk was fined $20 million dollars by the SEC, a pittance to him, while Stewart served jail time (for it is a crime punishable with up to 20 years in prison). Ps. 62:9-10 applies to insider trading especially as it refers to people taking pride in their ability to act on secret information and their ability to have an unfair advantage over others. The purpose of life is not to pursue vain status and wealth but rather to live according to the Word of God, in grace.
A drunken gambler who agreed to accept Pascalâ€™s wager it would be binding unto God, in spite of the gamblerâ€™s drunkenness, for all things are binding unto God. However, the ultimate goalâ€”union with God in heavenâ€”can only come through an act of faith, and a gambler who makes no such act but only behaves in a manner that might be pleasing to God while never affirming in his heart or mind that he is in fact acting to please God will not be likely to merit eternal salvation. Salvation is for those who seek it and ask for it. It is not given just because an individual conforms his lifestyle to an outward show that is all pretense. One can look virtuous on the outside and still hate God on the inside or deny His existence internally. But God is the ultimate judge and cannot be deceived. Therefore, however one acts, he is bound to be judged. However one thinks, he is bound to be judged. For whatever he holds in his heart, man is bound to be judged. One who acts in ignorance and not out of any malice is likely to be judged more favorably than one who knows and acts against his knowledgeâ€”like Solomon (Towns, 1989). Thus, whether the drunken gambler agrees to the wager or not is immaterial: he is still subject to judgment at the end of his life, and God will judge him according to how he has lived and how he has believed. No one can read the hearts and minds of men but God and this ability alone and His promise to judge the living and the dead shows that no one is free from being judged, regardless of whether one is an atheist or a deist.
My witness polemic on how I would witness to a drunker gambler, an unbelieving skeptic, or one who says there is no God or does not know Christ would be to demonstrate Christian love by way of admonishing the sinnerâ€”â€œAnd we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyoneâ€ (1 Thessalonians 5:14), and demonstrating charity like that which Christ demonstrated to the sinful. The first thing to do would be to show that the gambler, atheist or agnostic is being kept from a special grace and state in life. He is selling himself short by refusing to come out into the vineyard to meet the Lord. It is not as though the Lord is hiding or cannot be found: he is there waiting.
I would not press the point, however. I would make this simple statement and then demonstrate through my actionsâ€”my refusal to gamble or drink to drunkennessâ€”that I am committed to being with the Lord. Actions speak louder than words and people know that. That is why I would not start preaching, as people hear preaching all the time and they are not moved by it. But when they see an individual live the words that have been preached, it is a different story. Therefore, my polemic would be a polemic of actionâ€”and when the drunken gambler loses all his money because he is drunk, I will take him in and show charity to himâ€”as that is what speaks loudest to the heart. And when his family is in the lurch because he has lost all their money, I will show them charity too and provide for them until their father is on his feet again. And when some further misfortune befalls him or his refusal to acknowledge God creates an existential crisis for him, I will not refuse him comfort or advice but rather will tell him of why God allows bad things to happenâ€”namely, because we are not made for this world but rather for the next; we were made for Him and we were made to love Him. But to love Him we must know Him and by knowing Him we are bound to serve Him. To know, love and serve God is the purpose of this life: that is what I would eventually explain to this manâ€”but only after he is willing and able to listen, and to get to that point, a great deal of charity will need to be exercised. People have erected walls around their hearts and minds, and those walls can only come down by the great grace and strength of charityâ€”no other force can knock them over to let Godâ€™s light in.
In conclusion, one has to orient oneself to the spiritual purpose of life that God has ordained every person of good will pursue. One cannot put profits before people or attempt to live as though one could be ignorant of Godâ€™s call. One has to live a life of love for Good who is goodness itself and a life of love for oneâ€™s neighbors, who need to be supported by charity so that they can hope in the promise of Christ and have faith in His Word.
Agrawal, A., & Cooper, T. (2015). Insider trading before accounting scandals. Journal of
Corporate Finance, 34, 169-190.
Becker, W. R. (2016). Friends with Benefits: Redefining Personal Gain in Insider
Trading Under Salman v. United States. Duke J. Const. L. & Pub. Pol’y Sidebar, 12, 47.
Heller, R. (2017). Monetary mischief and the debt trap. Cato Journal, 37(2), 247-261.
Minor, D. (2016). Risk Preferences and Misconduct: Evidence from Politicians. Harvard
Business School Working Paper, No. 16-073.
Pritchard, A. C. (2016). The SEC, Administrative Usurpation, and Insider Trading. Stan.
L. Rev. Online, 69, 55.
Towns, E. L. (1989). A Journey Through the Old Testament. Books. Paper 8.
Van Lerven, F. (2016). Quantitative easing in the Eurozone: A one-year assessment.
Intereconomics, 51(4), 237-242.
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