During my college days, case studies of real-life events were often used to teach practical applications of specific business concepts. We studied stories of wild successes and tales of dramatic failures, all in the hope of achieving a measure of success and avoiding the pitfalls in business.
And as a student during the "go-go" '80s, there was no lack of cases to examine. We studied such success stories as Chrysler's turnaround during the '80s under Lee Iacocca, and the meteoric rise of Microsoft after IBM accepted its fledgling DOS program in 1981. And we examined the spectacular collapse of the savings and loan industry, and the reasons that led to the "Black Monday" stock market crash of 1987.
But the one case study I particularly remember was the notable advertising campaign commissioned by Wendy's hamburger chain in 1984. Those of my generation will recall the group of three elderly ladies who were served an enormous hamburger bun topped with a minuscule patty. While two of the women poked at it, exchanging bemused comments, they were interrupted by their no-nonsense companion, who, after searching in vain for customer assistance, loudly demanded, "Where's the beef?" The slogan caught on, to say the least, and became an iconic cultural catchphrase to question the true substance of a matter.
Matters of true substance and value are covered extensively in Scripture. In particular, the word "substance," as rendered by the King James translators, occurs 50 times throughout the Bible and, with few exceptions, specifically refers to one's possessions, assets, and wealth. Interestingly, it is used most often by King Solomon--nine times, to be exact: eight times in the book of Proverbs and once in his "Song of Songs." And as case studies go pertaining to godly business practices, serious Christians will certainly find no better model to study than the extraordinary success granted to Solomon by the Lord (2 Chronicles 1:11-12).
Remarkably, Solomon used the word most often in a negative sense, warning of the pending loss of assets for following ways of unrighteousness. In the few passages that refer to a person's substance in a positive light, only one 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)
The Lord expects and deserves the best and first of all that we have--not the leftovers. We honor God when we give the "firstfruits" (literally, the first, best, and choicest parts) from "all [our] increase." And though we should never give for the purpose of gaining more, none who honor God with their substance will be impoverished by doing do. On the contrary, He will provide more than we need if we will just trust in Him.
ICR seeks to honor the Lord in all that we do, but we need your help to support our ministry. Please consider sharing a portion of your substance with ICR in this regard. Together, we will honor the Lord in mighty ways.
* Mr. Morris is Director of Donor Relations at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris IV, H. 2010. Matters of True Substance. Acts & Facts. 39 (2): 21.