As we seek a biblical model of economics, we must first examine what is perhaps the most basic idea in economics: the tension between scarcity and insatiability. Scarcity is simply the truth that all physical resources are finite. Insatiability is the idea that human beings are always in want, trying to get something more. In other words, “we can’t always git what we want.”
It should not be surprising that these observations about the world and human nature are taught as truths in Scripture. First, there are many verses that talk about the desire to accumulate possessions, some with a positive spin and some with a negative. Much of the Old Testament narratives are concerned with the acquisition of the Promised Land and the blessings that accompany the Davidic kingdom. Secondly, however, many teachings of Scripture take for granted the human desire for self-interest. Paul, for example, appeals to the Christians’ desire to receive the blessings given to Christ and the rewards of His kingdom as he urges them to press on in their faith. Pursuit of true self-interest is not condemned by Scripture but accepted as a part of being human, with the understanding that what is truly in one’s best interest is to obey God.
When God begins His creative program, He begins with a “wild and waste” earth. By the process of creation, He “tames” the earth, first by creating light, then by putting the chaotic waters in order, and then further pulling back the waters to reveal land. God’s creation is His cultivation of order. He then gives Adam, as His representative, the mandate to continue and finish the project. God placed Adam in a paradise, but it was a work in-progress-Adam was to name the animals and cultivate the plants. It should not be thought that insatiability-Man’s quest to fulfill his desires-is a product of the Fall, but rather the original state of Man’s creation. Had Adam sat and twiddled his thumbs, he would presumably have starved! Through obedience to God, Adam’s needs and wants would have been met. Only the Creator can truly sate the hunger of the Creation.
In the post-Fall world, scarcity is more acute. The ground will only produce by Man’s sweat and toil. Given Man’s desire to live and prosper, he must find new ways of getting what he needs to stay alive.