Americans are reeling under an inflation rate now estimated at nearly 10%. This not only reduces the value of people’s earnings and savings but also violates the biblical principle of sound money.
The Bible contains more than 100 verses dealing with the importance of honesty and reliable standards of value. For instance, Proverbs 20:10 says, “Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord.”
Likewise, Leviticus 19: 35-36 declares,
“You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”
Whenever inflation rages, it robs people of their wealth and also their faith in a stable monetary system. By reducing the value of their money, it changes the “weights and measures.”
In a recent Wall Street Journal column, Dylan Pahman of the Acton Institute and Alexander William Salter, who teaches economics at Texas Tech, note that,
“Scripture is replete with teachings about the importance of sound money. The Torah, the first five books of the Bible, contains 25 references to the ‘shekel of the sanctuary,’ a coin of a fixed weight placed in the Tabernacle of the Lord to ensure that all commercial transactions took place on the basis of a ‘perfect and just weight’” (Deuteronomy 25:15).
Perhaps the only positive aspect of inflation is that it reduces the impulse to stash away savings without regard to future earnings. Money sitting under the mattress loses value every day instead of working for the investor.
In the parable of the talents, Jesus Himself rebukes an unwise servant who did not bother to invest money entrusted to him by his employer. In Matthew 25:14-30, a man goes on a journey and entrusts his workers with varying amounts of money. One gets 10 talents, another five, another two, and one receives only a single talent.
Upon his return, the man praises the first two for investing his money. He gives them more responsibility and compensation. But he is very displeased with the one with the single talent, who merely hid it in the ground, gaining nothing for his master. Calling him “wicked and slothful,” Jesus takes the single talent away from him and gives it to the one who did well with the 10 talents.
The lesson is not just about money, but about how faithful we are to use what God gives us to His glory and to ours and others’ benefit. In Jesus’s time, inflation probably was not anywhere near what it is now, but the lazy servant still cost his master by doing nothing. If this incident occurred today, it would be like giving away a tenth of the value and getting nothing in return.
Inflation is “the cruelest tax of all,” since it most hurts those least able to bear the reduction. In America, an estimated 5.4 percent of households are “unbanked,” that is, lacking any kind of checking, savings, or any other kind of account. They are the hardest hit when money loses its value.
The Bible contains more than 2,300 verses regarding money, and Jesus devoted 15 percent of His recorded words to this topic. What we do with money, individually and as a society, is a profound moral issue. Jesus made it clear that whatever our station, we are merely stewards, since God owns everything. Thus, we have a responsibility to God to manage our assets well.
Anytime, and especially during high inflation, we need to invest wisely and morally, knowing that God is watching. We neither want to invest in anything evil nor make the mistake of the “wicked and slothful” servant who chose fear over faith — and did nothing.
Art Ally is founder of Timothy Plan and biblically responsible investing.