Last week I visited the site of the first gold discovered at Columa, California which kicked off that famous gold rush of 1849. James Marshall had discovered gold in the tailrace of the sawmill he operated with John Sutter. On January 24, 1848 he exclaimed “Boys, I believe I’ve found a gold mine.”
The stampede the following year changed the course of California and the United States forever. The culture of the native peoples was shattered; the town in the mud flats of the bay soon become the well-known city of San Francisco; the Mexican province became the US state of California in 1850, and most all of the thousands who stampeded to the “El Dorado” of California died in poverty including Marshall and Sutter.
What is it about gold anyway? People look for it in hopes of finding it. It is a gamble of “seek and find”. While it is true that gold has sustainability as a precious metal and it has been a standard for currencies worldwide, it is something that must be found or discovered. It is not something that is created. It can lose value and it can be volatile. Without demeaning the value of finding, buying or holding gold, let us think of another perspective.
Perhaps even more instructive is God’s appeal to not forget his laws and how the world works.He maintains in Deuteronomy 8:18, “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” What an amazing thought at a time in history when we have been conditioned to believe that the government will provide for our needs, or education can solve problems, or the church can miraculously sustain its members. All these institutions have their value, but none of them can create wealth. None can make something from nothing like the creator-God can or like business can – something ordained by God.
Recently the IBEC blog, "BAM and the end of poverty", quoted Theologian Wayne Grudem who states it well, “…I believe the only long-term solution to world poverty is business. That is because business produces goods, and businesses produce jobs. And businesses continue producing goods year after year, and continue providing jobs and paying wages year after year. Therefore, if we are ever going to see long-term solutions to world poverty, I believe it will come through starting and maintaining productive, profitable business." (Wayne Grudem, 2003).