During my college days, case studies were often used to teach practical business concepts. In the money-motivated ’80s and early ’90s, there was certainly no lack of cases illustrating wild successes and dramatic failures in business. We studied such success stories as the rise of Pac-Man and the video-gaming industry, Chrysler’s financial turnaround under Lee Iacocca, and the meteoric growth of Microsoft after IBM adopted its rudimentary DOS program in 1981. And we examined the demise of the savings and loan industry, the factors that caused the “Black Monday” stock market crash in 1987, and the political-economic effects of communist policies that eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
One case study that was particularly memorable was the popular 1984 television campaign for Wendy’s hamburger chain. Those of my generation will remember the three elderly ladies who were served a tiny hamburger patty on top of an enormous hamburger bun. While two of the women poke at it, exchanging bemused comments, they are interrupted by their no-nonsense companion, who, after searching in vain for customer assistance, loudly demands, “Where’s the beef?” The slogan caught on, to say the least, and became an iconic cultural catch phrase questioning the real substance of any idea or product.
Matters of true value and substance are broadly covered in Scripture. In particular, the word “substance” (as rendered by the King James translators from the Hebrew ןוֹה, pronounced hon) occurs 50 times throughout the Bible. With few exceptions, it specifically refers to a person’s possessions, assets, and wealth. Interestingly enough, it is used most often by King Solomon—eight times in the book of Proverbs and once in his Song of Songs. Considering case studies that pertain to godly business practices, Christians will certainly find no better model to study than the extraordinary success granted by God to young Solomon at the beginning of his reign (2 Chronicles 1:11-12).
Remarkably, Solomon uses “substance” most often in a negative sense to warn of the potential loss of assets from following ways of unrighteousness. In those few passages in which he refers to a person’s substance in a positive light, there is only one that contains a promise from the Lord:
Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)
All of our substance comes from the Creator God in the first place, so it is right that He should expect the best we have—not the leftovers. We honor God when we give the “firstfruits”— literally, the best and choicest parts—from all our “increase.” And though we should never give with the selfish intention of gaining more, no one who honors God with their substance will ever be impoverished by doing so. God will provide more than we need if we will simply trust in Him.
ICR’s “substance” is found in our 44 years of uncompromising defense of biblical accuracy and authority. Through rigorous scientific research, solid educational programs, an extensive speaking ministry, and our many publications and media resources, ICR has equipped multiple generations of believers to stand for God’s truth. We seek to honor the Lord in all that we do, but we need your help to continue our ministry. So please consider sharing a portion of your substance with ICR. Together, we will honor the Lord in mighty ways.
* Mr. Morris is Director of Donor Relations at the Institute for Creation Research.