Earning an honest profit is fundamentally good, though it is increasingly unpopular to argue that it is good to earn a lot of money. The basis for this bold assertion can be found in the first chapter of the Bible. After creating and blessing Adam, God explained to him (and by extension all of us) his purpose in life:
And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen 1:28 ESV)
Though the Bible progressively adds precision to God’s intent in creation, the five imperatives listed above provide a clear trajectory: be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, have dominion. I would argue that within the heart of every human being is a strong desire to obey these five distinct commands.
God intends people to be fruitful and multiply, and we have a strong desire for sex and to have children. Of course, further revelation from the Bible shows that God is seeking true worshippers (John 4:23), not that everyone breed like rabbits. From the first steps of any toddler to the discovery of the New World and beyond, the desire to fill the Earth is in every heart. Having dominion over animals requires human care of created beings, and this desire is evident in children asking for a pet, dairy farmers caring for a herd, or even governments setting aside enormous wildlife reserves.
But what does it mean to subdue the earth? Obviously it does not mean to pollute and to spoil the world. Rather, it means to make the world subservient or useful to human beings. What does it mean to subdue the earth? It is straightforward to see if we are obeying the command to be fruitful and multiply with a simple head count. Filling the earth is also easily measured. But how do we know if we are obeying the command to subdue the earth?
Gentle reader, we will continue addressing these questions in tomorrow’s post.