ONE PURSE

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Thursday, February 3, 2005
"We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:" (Pro 1:13-14) In the context of these words, Solomon is warning against being enticed to join hands with the wicked in their plundering enterprise. It is revealing that these wicked conspirators (conspiracy being a combining together privily to do something immoral, illegal, or reprehensible) espouse a basic Marxist/Socialist/Communist doctrine: "Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse." Here then is a communal wealth arrangement which has one basic purpose: the enrichment of those within the "club" through the plunder of the gainful labor of others. We ought to be wary of any system, no matter how idealistic it seems, which purports to prosper through the "one purse" concept. Somebody, somewhere, is likely to be targeted for plunder. Communism (or its variants) appears outwardly to have a noble goal: the satisfying of human needs through the elimination of private property. The problem with this is that when individual ownership disappears, so also does individual incentive to work---both through the ease of relying upon the labors of others and through the futility of laboring industriously only to have the fruits of one's labor seized for the support of non-producers. The obvious failures of communist nations of the last 100 years are not unique. When the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Settlement first established their economy in the new world, these God-fearing people tried a communal property/wealth system. It was a disastrous failure. Governor William Bradford in his journals recorded, ""The young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense." He observed, "The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice." Animosities grew amongst the Pilgrims and their society was becoming unraveled. So desperate was their condition that the Settlement abandoned their commonwealth arrangement, opting for privatization of land and resources. Bradford wrote, "This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression." Private property brought not only increased production, but self-respect, motivation, and harmony. What the Pilgrims had discovered is that the Biblical order for work is always best: "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread." (2Th 3:10-12) "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (1Ti 5:8) Some will point to texts like Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:32-35 which seem to justify the idea of a communal wealth/property system. Whereas the Jerusalem church members were evidently very forward to make their personal wealth available to those in need (and "need" was the determinant for charity, not "desire" or "subsidized laziness"), rights to title and private control were still in force (unlike the collectivist system of Communist Russia, for example). Peter makes clear, during his rebuke of Ananias' dishonorable charity, "Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?...." (Acts 5:4). It is possible that the Jerusalem church's forwardness in liquidating property was a prudent measure against the coming destruction of Jerusalem of which Jesus spoke (Mat.24:15-21). Whatever was going on in the Jerusalem church, it was decidedly different than 20th Century Russia. The Lord Jesus Christ said, "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?...." (Mat.20:15). This is the very antithesis of true Communism, of "One Purse" Plunderism. "But wisdom is justified of all her children" (Luk.7:35).

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