The Bible doesn’t talk about stocks, bonds and bitcoins, so what should we do?

This article is published in partnership with The Methodist Church in Singapore.

Rev Raymond Fong // May 6, 2024, 2:30 pm


"Even as current economic systems promote consumerism and relentless consumption, what is the Christian response?" asks Rev Raymond Fong. "I believe it is to allow Christ to redeem our consumption." He suggests 3 ways we can do this. Photo by PiggyBank on Unsplash.

Every Christian aspires to obey God, avoid evil and do good. But some modern day predicaments are not discussed specifically in the Bible. How, then, can we apply biblical principles to our lives?

In this series, The Methodist Church in Singapore shares reflections on its Social Principles which, more than ever before, can help believers live by God’s firm principles in today’s volatile and complex world. 

Here, Rev Raymond Fong looks at how the Church can respond to the economic complexities of our day through a biblical lens, by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

We believe all economic systems are under the judgement of God and that we need to test each aspect of every economic system by the teachings of the Bible and to judge its practices and impact by its contribution towards the common good.

1. Property and Possessions. We believe that ownership of property is a trusteeship under God and all our possessions are a trust from God to be managed responsibly. It is contrary to our Christian faith for any person or group of persons to have exclusive and arbitrary control of any part of the created universe.

How can the Church respond to the economic complexities of our day through a biblical lens?

2. The Acquisition of Wealth.

a) We support all honest measures that would reduce the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. We should ensure that materialistic progress does not undermine our family, weaken our community spirit, dehumanise the individual, and destroy the natural environment.

b) We accept that wealth creation can enrich the nation, find jobs for the citizens and enhance the living standards of the population. Yet wealth creation must not be done by exploiting cheap labour, using unsustainable natural resources, widening the income gap between the rich and the poor, or promoting a selfish profligate lifestyle.

3. A Simple Lifestyle and Consumerism.

a) We call on all Christians to adopt a simple lifestyle and to be ever conscious and vigilant against the influence of consumerism which thrives on pride, greed and the human propensity to acquire more than we need.

b) We need to evaluate our personal and business practices so that we will not be influenced and controlled by the standards and values of an acquisitive society and an extravagant and wasteful lifestyle.

c) A simple lifestyle is not a call for an ascetic life. It is a spiritual discipline that promotes godliness with contentment, and increases our awareness of God’s presence and providence in our lives. A simple lifestyle frees us to be more sensitive to the needs of the poor and the beauty of God’s world.

4 principles of a biblical economic framework

It is imperative that we apply a biblical framework when we consider the sphere of economics. In my view, four core principles undergird this framework.

1. The worth of the individual person

Human beings are created in the image of God. Each person is of immeasurable value and should be accorded dignity, respect and worth.

The example of Jesus is instructive. He demonstrated profound care and consideration for the worth of the individual, whether it is a woman by the well, a leper, despised Samaritans, or the sick and dying.

In our evaluation of any economic system, we must ask the fundamental question of whether it seeks to uphold the dignity and values the worth of a person. 

2. The propensity for selfish gain

This other biblical aspect of human nature is also critical.

While we are created good, human beings nonetheless have the inward disposition to rebel against God through selfish ambition leading to unjust economic structures.

Because of the sin-led inclination to use power for selfish advantage and profit, any economic system that promotes monopolised, unchecked power over resources is to be deterred and avoided.

3. Biblical justice 

The Word of God describes God as one who loves justice and commands us to act justly and love mercy. (Micah 6:8)

The Bible reveals the shape of justice as both of process and outcome. Biblical justice envisions a socio-economic order where the processes are just and the outcome is a fair distribution of justice.

For example, biblical justice mandates that impartial justice is rendered through a fair process to persons regardless of means or status. (Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17–19)

Biblical justice speaks out against unjust oppression and unfair deprivation. (Isaiah 5:7–9; Amos 5:11–12; Micah 2:2) Biblical justice, therefore, mandates an economic system where every person and family has fair access to education, jobs and resources if they act responsibly and diligently.

4. A special concern for the least and last, especially the poor 

There are so many references in the Bible that point to God’s heart for such as these. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19, Matthew 25:31-45) Because God has a special concern for them, so must we. (Zechariah 7:9; James 1:27)

Any economic system must therefore be measured on how it provides for the poorest, weakest and the most marginalised in society.

Any biblical approach to economics should emphasise empowering the poor and breaking them out of the poverty cycle. There should be particular concern with widening income gaps and active assistance for the poor and needy, especially in economically-trying times with rising costs.

3 calls to action 

There are therefore three calls to action in response to these core principles.

1. Redeeming consumption

Even as current economic systems promote consumerism and relentless consumption, what then is the Christian response?

I believe it is to allow Christ to redeem our consumption. Let’s turn to the Bread of Life (John 6:35) who alone can satisfy the longings of our soul and spiritual thirst.

Let the treasure of our hearts not be temporal but eternal. Let Christ satisfy.

Let us eat more of this true Bread that feeds our souls. Let us make Him the centre of our consumption and allow Him to redeem it for His glory.

2. Radical generosity

I believe our Christian response in the face of economic structures which disadvantage the least and a costly, counter-cultural generosity which goes beyond just charity but a bold witness to a radical and transformative love of God.

Will we be willing to go the extra mile to journey with the poor and needy? Will we offer not just our finances but our friendship?

3. Reality check 

In his sermon on “The Use of Money”, John Wesley’s exhortation is to earn all you can, save all you can and give all you can.

There is much wisdom in this and I think the crux lies in whether we are willing to help each other live out these principles of biblical stewardship, especially in the area of giving.

Through our lifestyles as Christians, we exhibit a longing for eternal treasure that will not perish.

I believe that it is only in an accountable community that we will have the much-needed reality check on the lifestyles we are living, the way we are spending, saving and stewarding our resources for the benefit of others.

Often, we don’t venture into such details for the reason that these are personal and private. But if we are to grow as responsible stewards, then I reckon it’s time we pursue such regular reality checks as we help each other spend wisely and give generously.

Economic systems are complex, ingrained and difficult to change. Yet there is a part for all of us to play.

As Christians, our worldview is shaped by a biblical framework. May the Lord give us grace for a counter-cultural witness as His salt and light.

This means, through our lifestyles, we exhibit a longing for eternal treasure that will not perish, we display a readiness to help the least, last and lost with a generosity that glorifies our Father in heaven.

The Methodist Social Principles on the Sphere of Economics articulate the response of The Methodist Church in Singapore to the economic issues that Christians face today. These are not rules, but guidelines drawn from Scriptural and theological foundations as well as Methodist traditions. 

Watch this space for the next Methodist Social Principles article on Creation Care: The Bible doesn’t talk about global warming and recycling, so what should we do?


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About the author

Rev Raymond Fong

Rev Raymond Fong is the Pastor-In-Charge of Wesley Methodist Church. Before answering the call to be a pastor, he was a Government lawyer and worked as a deputy public prosecutor, holding an appointment as Deputy Director (Legal) in the Ministry of Manpower.