"Boaz, inspiring example for Christian economics"

2015-05-29 16.39.15zaterdag 30 mei 2015 21:18

Op vrijdag 29 mei, tijdens de ECPM-Jaarvergadering in Zuid-Duitsland, sprak Peter van Dalen deze boeiende speech (in het Engels) uit over lessen die uit het gedrag van Boaz uit het Bijbelboek Ruth zijn te trekken voor hedendaagse christelijke economische beginselen:

European Christian Political Movement

Summit on business, family and economics

Germany, the 29th of May 2015


Address by Peter van Dalen, Member of the European Parliament

Ladies and gentlemen, today we focus on the challenge for solutions to global economic problems. I consider this a very broad challenge and it is almost impossible to give an answer to the global questions. However I do think we have an excellent example of an employer who has inspired me to think about Christian economics. I am sure you know him: his name is Boaz. He is a key figure in the Old Testament, in the book Ruth. Why is Boaz inspiring to look at a Christian way to the global economy? Because I think we can learn at least 7 lessons from him:

1. His Name

Boaz' name means: in the Lord is strength. Strength is nòt in mankind, in the euro nor in the army. In the Lord is strength. That's the best everyone can get: the Lord being your strength.

2. His blessings

According to the King James Bible Boaz was a mighty man of wealth. In the New International Version of the Holy Bible Boaz is called a man of standing. So what we see is that Boaz is a blessed man. Which is not surprising when you know that the Lord is your strength.

3. His words

When Boaz meets his harvesters he greets them with a blessing: "The Lord be with you!" He did nòt say:

- let's optimize the harvest

- I do hope the weather will not spoil our work today

- let's work 7 days 24 hours to get in the harvest.

Boaz just said: the Lord be with you. And he knew that the Lord was with him: the Lord was in his name, which means in Boaz himself, so he was already a man of wealth.

4. His protection of the poor

The Israeli economy was in an upward trend, that is why Naomi and Ruth went back from Moab to Bethlehem. And Bethlehem of course was the best place to be: it means place of bread. But mind you, people had to work everyday for their bread, the time of the heavenly manna was way back in history.

Boaz invited Ruth to harvest on his fields: don't go and glean in another field he said to her. And, should she be thirsty she could drink from his water-jars. And the lunch she could share with Boaz' harvesters.

5. His protection of the weak

Women certainly in those ages had a vulnerable position. Boaz told Ruth to follow after the girls. And he explicitly instructed his men not to touch Ruth.

6. His loyalty

Boaz ordered his harvesters not to embarrass Ruth when she gathers amongst the sheaves. On the contrary! He even instructs his men to pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up.

So no optimalisation of the harvest, no maximalisation of profits. But to look for those in need. Be loyal.

7. His call to be kind to Ruth

Boaz ordered his men not to rebuke her. So no discrimination, no hard words, no bullying. But here Boaz shows us how to go around with one and other.  Also in the factory between employers and employees, and amongst employees.

So why is Boaz and example of Christian economics?  We have seen 7 lessons from Boaz. You could take them together in one term:

this is responsible entrepreneurship.

Responsible entrepreneurship means:

=> Make time for religion, recreation, family and share your wealth. Do not go for a 7 days a week 24 hours a day profit;

=> Keep your eyes open for those who are vulnerable on the labour market and give them a chance;

=> Be kind to one and other, use the right words when you are at work. Encourage and stimulate one and other.

You may have read the famous book of  Martin Wolf, the well-known commentator of the Financial Times. His book is called the Shift's and the Shocks. It is about economical landslides. Wolf describes in his book that instability is a fundamental element in capitalism. So therefore the world will face many economical shocks and shifts.

I believe we should make an other shift that will cause a landslide shock: I believe when we start to bring Boaz' responsible entrepreneurship in practice this would mean a global revolution. I call upon us here today to start this revolution! We can make this shift! Because in the Lord is our strength!

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