By Jack Glover
It would be an understatement to say the economy is not good. Most of us know things are not well in our nation in more ways than one. The job losses are tremendous. Some who have worked for companies many years no longer have workplaces to go to. The economy has brought hard or difficult times to companies, families, schools and even to the jobs that no one wanted to do.
How should the Christian react to these hard times? Most of us have had plenty, and more than plenty, in the last few years. We could live on a lot less if it became necessary. Our houses are full of “things” that are not needed to sustain life. We have had it good.
Should we want to give it all up and go back to doing without? I’m not sure that is necessary, but we do need to prepare to make adjustments when needed. What are some biblical principles that will assist us when we face changes to our economic lifestyle?
God knows our needs. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). I know this statement seems trite, but it is also true. Trust in God is necessary to see us through when things look hopeless. If it is good, it comes from God (James 1:17). Jesus emphasized that we are not alone on this earth when He said “your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
Some adjustment may be necessary. Paul had a hard life (II Cor. 11:23-28). He could not depend on a steady flow of income. Yet the lesson he teaches is to adjust to your situation.
He told the Philippians (4:12), “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” He didn’t say he liked the situation but had learned to adjust to it.
Life has its ups and downs, and many of them are beyond our control. Change comes in many ways, but instead of being controlled by the changes, we are to adjust to them.
Keep on praying. Remember the “friend at midnight” in Luke 11:5-10? He had an unexpected visitor and nothing to feed him. Although his friend would not rise to assist him because they were friends, he would help because of urgent request or incessant or frequent application. Then Jesus said, ” For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” We need to ask God for help, not think we can do it all ourselves.
Be thankful for what we have. Are you sitting on a nail keg and eating off the ground? Do you know what it is to be poor? Most people in our nation do not. We think poor is when we have to give up something or cannot purchase the newest gadgets.
Do I want to be poor, or should you? Probably not, but we do need to realize what we have and be thankful to God. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name” (Ps. 100:4). In everything give thanks (I Thess. 5:18). When things go bad, we should take a few moments to make a list of what we have and thank God.
Be on guard against greed and covetousness. It takes little searching to find the source of the economic problem. News stories abound of poor judgment due to greed, people buying what they cannot afford, charge accounts gone wild, and from our government on down people who seem to think they can live like this forever. The leaders of Israel were guilty of this same kind of thought. “‘Come,’ they say, ‘let us get wine, and let us drink heavily of strong drink; and tomorrow will be like today, only more so'” (Is. 56:12).
The Christian is warned against covetousness and greed in many scriptures, but ignoring God’s advice can bring problems and sorrow. Having “things” is not wrong, but coveting what you cannot afford is. “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you'” (Heb. 13:5). He did not say buy what you want, when you want, using poor judgment, and I’ll bless you with the money to pay for it. Covetousness is idolatry (Col. 3:5).
We hope the economy will improve soon, but the advice from the scriptures will apply in any situation. Be a good steward of what God has given you, pray and give thanks often, trust in His care, and use good judgment in your financial decisions.