CHRISTIAN APPROACHES TO WEALTH, MONEY AND POVERTY - CRE FORM 4 Notes

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Definition of the Concepts: Wealth, Money and Poverty

a) Wealth: 

  • Accumulation of materials owned by an individual, family or a group of people.
  • Wealth is property that has economic value e.g. land, animals, money, valuable possessions such as jewellery, commercial and residential buildings etc.

Ways of acquiring wealth

  • Inheritance
  • Business
  • Commercial farming
  • Salaried Jobs
  • Investment of money in financial institution
  • Provision of commercial services

b) Money

  • It’s the medium of exchange that functions as a legal tender.
  • It is something that is generally accepted as a medium of exchange, a means of payment.
  • It is usually in form of coins or notes.
  • Good monetary media(money) has certain qualities.

Qualities of money

  • It should be acceptable
  • It should be fairly stable
  • Easy to divide into small units
  • Easy to carry
  • Should be relatively scarce
  • It should be durable
  • Its value should be maintained through proper control of its circulations
  • Money is a measure of wealth.
  • What it can purchase is the value.
  • Money is used to buy services, goods, pay debts etc.
  • Examples of currencies in the world are Ksh. (Kenya), Rand (South Africa) US & Dollar, Pound (Britain) Euro (Europe), Yen (Japan) Etc

c) Poverty

  • State of being without adequate basic necessities of life e.g. food, shelter, clothing
  • It’s a state of helplessness.
  • It is characterized by poor health, hunger, and lack of education facilities, uncared for environment.

Causes of poverty

  • Adverse climatic conditions (Geographical factors)
  • Poor family background (historical and social factors)
  • Political instability leading to civil wars
  • Poor governance
  • Regional imbalance of natural resources
  • Low level of technology
  • Laziness
  • Over dependence on foreign aid

The Traditional African Understanding of Wealth and Poverty

Wealth

  • In African traditional societies wealth was measured in terms of the amount of land, livestock, grains, and wives, children possessed by an individual or the community.
  • Wealth was acquired in various ways.
    • As a gift from God. Most Africans believe that wealth is a blessing from God.
    • Inheritance. In cases where the head of the family is dead, the eldest son becomes the custodian of the estate. The clan and community elders give direction on how the wealth is to be shared out.
    • Bride wealth
    • Farming
    • Exploitation of natural resources – honey, wood for carving, building materials etc
    • Trade. African communities were involved in barter trade where they exchanged good and services
    • Raids – wealth was also acquired by raiding other communities – goats, sheep, Cattle.
  • People were encouraged to work hard to acquire wealthy honesty
  • Wealthy people were highly regarded and were considered for leadership position
  • Wealth was incomplete without a family

Poverty

  • Poverty was viewed as punishment or curse for wrongdoing.
  • Other causes of poverty according to African Traditional Society were: -
    • Laziness
    • Lack of inheritance
    • Raids by other communities
    • Famine
    • Natural calamities
    • Sickness – rendering the individual weak to acquire wealth
  • In acquiring wealth, principles such as value for human life, mutual responsibility, and sharing, communal ownership were emphasized.
  • Places that were communal include grazing land, rivers, and watering places
  • Laziness was ridiculed through songs, riddles and proverbs.

Impacts of the Introduction of Money Economy in Traditional African Society

Introduction

  • Money was introduced to Africa by the Europeans
  • Before colonial period, Africans practiced barter trade – actual goods exchanged with other goods e.g. animals would be exchanged with food grains, millet, sorghum, cowpeas, children exchanged for food during famine.
  • Trade merchants from Asia had introduced into Africa forms of currency such as the cowry shells, gold and the Indian rupees.
  • Europeans introduced currency still used today

Economy

  • careful management of resources, finances, income and expenditure of a family, a business enterprise, community or a country.
  • The economy of a country is to be well managed if it has the ability to meet the social economic needs of her members.

Development

  • It’s measured by the health of its economy in the provision of health, education, housing, sanitation, employment, and longevity of life, decrease of material and child mortality.

Money Economy:

  • Use of money as a means of exchange in economic activities e.g. banking, investment, insurance, payment of goods and services.

Reasons for money introduction

  • Colonization brought a lot of changes such as unoccupied land declared ‘Crown land’ for colonialists.
  • Tax introduction. Africans were supposed to pay taxes to the government. Taxes were paid in form of money.
  • Introduction of formal education School fees was introduced. Fees were paid in form of money.
  • Introduction of modern medical services. People paid medical services using money.
  • Emergence of new lifestyles. Converts to Christianity were emphasized on to have materials, hence had to work to improve their living standards. They built houses, took their children to schools practiced modern family techniques hence had to use money.

Impact of the introduction of money economy in traditional African society

  • Introduction of wage – labor
  • Break up of family ties as people migrated from rural to urban areas in search of employment
  • African land taken by the colonialists, reducing people to squatters hence need to work
  • There was creation of a gap between people – the rich and the poor
  • Emergence of vices e.g. corruption, bribery, prostitution, robbery
  • Deterioration of cherished African values e.g. bride wealth has become commercialized, customs lost etc.
  • Loss of African human dignity. Africans had to pay taxes to the colonial government. They were forced to work in European farms so as to get money. They worked under dehumanizing conditions.
  • Production of traditional food crops declined replaced by cash crops.
  • Individual ownership of land was emphasized. Land could be sold at will
  • There was increase of rural – urban migration leaving the rural people less educated.
  • Exploitation of the poor by the rich – poor wages, overcharging prices on foods.
  • Destruction of the natural environment to create room for building projects, urban centers
  • The cost of living increased. Almost everything is acquired by money.

The Christian Teaching on Wealth, Money, Poverty

Teaching on Wealth

  • Wealth is a blessing from God
  • Those who obey God’s laws, teachings of the prophets are promised blessings by God Deut28: 1 – 4
  • Wealth has duties associated with it e.g. 10% tithe, alms to the poor, and an aspect of stewardship.
  • Wealth should be used wisely. People are not owners of their property but are stewards. Should share with the poor and needy.
  • Wealth is not permanent e.g. parable of the rich fool. When people die, they take nothing with them. Naked into the world, naked out of the world. Job. 1:21
  • Wealth can create a false sense of independence feeling of self reliance no need for God
  • Wealth should be obtained justly – no happiness for a person who gets riches in the wrong way.
  • Wrong attitude to wealth can lead to idolatry and other dangers. Matt.19: 23 – 24 danger of materialism – making riches their God, the love of money is the root of all evil (1 timothy 6:10)
  • It is wrong to discriminate against others on the basis of material possessions. Jesus associated with the rich, the poor, the sick etc.
  • Seek spiritual wealth, which is permanent and more fulfilling than material wealth, which is transitory – temporal. Matt 6:19 – 20)
  • Acknowledge God as the source of one’s riches
  • Use wealth to help the needy
  • Wealth is an instrument to enable us live decently.
  • Obsession with money and wealth leads to sin
  • Church leaders should avoid greed for wealth (1 Timothy 3:3)
  •  God will judge rich exploiters.

Christian Teaching on Poverty

  • Christian teachings discourage irresponsible behavior and habits e.g. laziness, idleness and negligence. Some people became poor because of such.
  • Some people become poor because of misfortunes
  • Others are poor because of judgment due to disobedience to God
  • God cares for the poor
  • Those with more should share with the poor
  • People should work to alleviate poverty in the society
  • Jesus helped the poor so should we.
  • The poor in spirit will be blessed

Christian Approaches/Response to Issues Related to Wealth and Money

  • Christians can respond by:
    • Insistence on fair distribution of wealth
    • Fighting against bribery and corruption
    • Using life skills
    • Practicing Christian values

Introduction

  • Affluence – having a lot of material possessions and a luxurious standard of living. Poverty is a state of lack of the basic necessities.
  • Illegal means of acquiring wealth include fraud, grabbing public land, selling narcotic drugs etc

Factors that have Contributed to Poverty

  • Political instability
  • Lack of formal education
  • Laziness
  • Negative attitude towards work – choosing jobs
  • Historical factors – colonization lack of land
  • Exporting unprocessed agricultural products cheaply then sold back expensively.

Fair Distribution of Wealth / Resources

  • Christians to promote the value of justice, fairness, social responsibility. How? By having anti – corruption crusades, be role models, teach or import skills, advocate for cancellation of foreign debts, taxation to all etc.
  • Fair salaries
  • Promotion of affordable and decent housing
  • Favorable terms of loans
  • Encourage Jua Kali artisans
  • Christians to demand transformation of society through implementation of just economic policies that can ensure fair distribution of wealth.
  • Encourage foreign investors through good infrastructure, incentives e.g. shorter process to register business, security.
  • Christian to encourage investments by churches and inculcate in people the values of hard work, proper time management free education free health care for the poor or needy.
  • Fair distribution of wealth / resources refers to jobs, infrastructure, hospitals, water, agricultural products etc.

Bribery and Corruption

Fighting against Bribery and Corruption

  • Bribery and corruption are related terms.
  • Corruption: – practice of giving a bribe in the form of money, goods or privileges in return for a service.
  • Bribery: – act of giving money, material goods or services to someone to influence the recipient to give underserved favor. It is aimed at influencing a decision to favor.
  • Bribery is a form of corruption.
  • Corruption is some kind of moral degeneration. A practice whereby someone uses his/her influence in an activity that is not morally acceptable.
  • Example of corruption include promotion by a senior for a favor, colluding to miss work, use of government vehicles to attend to personal matters.
  • In Kenya, Kenya Anticorruption commission KACC is a national body formed to fight corruption.

Factors Leading to Bribery and Corruption

  • Unemployment – one will bribe to secure employment
  • Greed for money – caused by peer pressure, poor moral values, wrong ethical foundation about money etc.
  • Fear – fear of being imprisoned
  • Ignorance – giving bribes in form of gifts
  • Disintegration of traditional African values
  • Lack of moral integrity – no Christian values, one having no spiritual basis
  • Frustration in the place of work
  • A perverted conscience

Consequences of Corruption and Bribery

  • Leads to injustice
  • Leads to incompetent supplies of goods or services being awarded hefty contracts – leads to poor services e.g. road construction
  • Poor infrastructure, poor public service delivery
  • Leads to undermining moral fabric of society – leading to social hopelessness and despair
  • Has led to lack of trust in public servants, and the government
  • Discontentment among people.
  • Degrades the personality of an individual
  • Can lead to imprisonment and lose of job

Christian Attitude towards Bribery and Corruption

  • It is condemned as an evil practice (a social evil) Ex. 23:8
  • Bribes cause injustice proverbs 17:23
  • Seen as morally wrong as they negatively affect one’s family
  • Jesus drove out merchants from the temple. They had started exploitation of the poor.
  • Condemned because it degrades the personality of an individual
  • Amos condemned taking and giving of bribes
  • Bribes blinds the eyes. In the parable of John the Baptist condemned soldiers from taking bribes. Corrupt judge and the widow, corruption is condemned
  • Christians are to live righteously and not give bribes or receive. They are the light of the world.
  • Money gained from corruption is not acceptable before God.

Using Life Skills

  • Life skills are abilities, which enable a person to face the challenges of life in an effective way they are
    • Decision making
    • Critical thinking
    • Creative thinking
    • Self esteem
    • Assertiveness

a. Decision making

  • Process of identifying the best alternative to overcome a challenge encountered.
  • Often decisions we make do not only affect us but those around us.
  • Steps to decision – making
    1. Identify the challenge (problem) what’s the problem? What is bothering you?
    2. Understand the challenge / problem: – What is really bothering you?
    3. Find out possible solutions
    4. Find out the possible options and alternatives
    5. Consider the possible consequences for each option
    6. Select the best option
    7. Implement
    8. Evaluate the outcome of the action

b. Critical Thinking

  • Ability to examine and assess a given situation impartially or objectively.
  • It involves reasoning carefully.
  • Getting detailed information, consider the option before making a decision.
  • Critical thinking makes a person responsible for their actions.

c. Creative Thinking

  • This is the act or practice of using ideas imaginatively to solve a problem

d. Self-Esteem

  • This is the regard one has about himself or herself.
  • Self-esteem can be low or high, positive or negative.
  • A positive or high self-esteem person has confidence, is outgoing, social, appreciates self, realistic and independent.
  • A person with low, negative self-esteem is naïve, withdrawn, shy, feels inadequate, and no self-confidence.

e. Assertiveness

  • Ability to express ones feelings and wishes without hurting others.
  • Assertive people are confident; direct in dealing with others assertive people have a high self-esteem.

Christian Values Related to Wealth, Money and Poverty.

  • Values – Beliefs, which guide people on what is right and wrong.
  • There are
    • Social values
    • Cultural values
    • Moral values
  • Values related to wealth are: -
    • Love
    • Honesty
    • Reliability
    • Fairness
    • Justice
    • Respect
    • Faithfulness
    • Humility
    • Persistence
    • Chastity
  • Love – intense emotion of attachment, affection, warmth, fondness, regard for a person or something
  • Honesty – quality of being truthful, fair trustworthy, sincere, genuine. The opposite of honesty is dishonesty.
  • Reliability – being dependable, faithful, predictable, unfailing. The ability of being relied upon and keeping promises
  • Fairness – condition of being unbiased, free from discrimination.
  • Justice – fair dealings with the people, as they deserve according to the law. Being fair, giving people what’s due to them. Opposite of justice is injustice.
  • Respect -Quality of having high regard for somebody or something.
  • Politeness. It’s important to respect other people’s property.
  • Humility – quality of not thinking that you are better than others. Being humble. Opposite of humility is pride, being proud. Those who humble themselves shall be exalted.
  • Faithfulness – quality of remaining loyal or true to someone. Christians should be faithful at their places of work and in allocating their wealth to God’s work. Those who are entrusted with public resources to manage on behalf of the people should show a high degree of faithfulness.
  • Persistence – quality to persevere. Quality to continue steadfastly, unrelentingly despite opposition e.g. the unjust judge and widow, job =, Jeremiah are people who persisted.
  • Chastity – a state of being pure, holy, innocent modest. It is abstinence from actions that may make one impure before God. Christians should strive hard not to defile their bodies in search of wealth. Christians should strive to live holy lives, avoid prostitution, drug abuse; corruption, people use sexual favor to get jobs or promotion. Christians should thus avoid such.

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