The society believes that economic development is a good thing and shows the excellence of the earth

Sometimes a culture promotes beliefs that oppose economic development, such as the “spiritual”-sounding idea that making more products from the earth is mere “materialism” or wrongfully promotes “greed.” Sometimes people think economic development is wrong because they hold animistic religious ideas and are afraid to disrupt the religious spirits that they believe are inhabiting the earth, the soil, plants, and animals. A similar fear is expressed by modern environmentalists, who argue that development projects might upset the ecological balance in a region or might use up an important natural resource.

But an economically productive culture that is moving from poverty toward greater prosperity will have a different view. It will believe that wise development of the earth’s resources for human benefit is a good thing and that it demonstrates the excellence of the earth and all its resources.

This second view is certainly the perspective of the Bible. Of course, the Bible affirms that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Ps. 24:1), but it also says that he has given it to us as stewards and he expects us to develop its resources: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion” (Gen. 1:28). Also, “The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man” (Ps. 115:16).

Therefore, what Paul says about various kinds of foods (which come from the earth) can also be applied to other products made from the earth: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4-5).

This means that a productive culture, one that is following biblical values, will welcome with joy the development of new products (such as computers and cell phones), better crops, new materials for making durable clothing, or higher-quality homes and other buildings. A growing economy will not hinder and criticize but will encourage the development of these and many thousands of other products from the earth.

In general, when a culture believes that economic development is a good thing, the people in that culture will view economic development with joy and with moral approval. This value, then, will provide the society with a tremendous incentive for economic growth and for moving from poverty toward increasing prosperity.

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