The crisis that turned our financial world upside down was largely caused by greed and selfishness. Many people leveraged their lives to the max as they bought bigger houses, newer cars and more stuff. Our businesses and government institutions are guilty of the same voracious appetites. More, more, more is the rallying cry of our culture.
A news service recently reported that in our new economy “cash would be king.” A dictionary definition of king is “Christ or God.” How sad that we have taken the feelings of worship which should be directed to God and given them to something as fleeting as worldly wealth. Even worse, there is not a discernible difference between Christians and non–Christians in how we handle money.
The answer to the financial mess is not government, our leaders or more money — the answer can be found only in Christ. The Bible has many stories about times of need. Read the Old Testament stories about famines and floods and substitute the words depression and recession. The lessons God was teaching his people thousands of years ago are the same lessons he is teaching us today. The Lord’s response to times of need is to teach us to depend on him, turn to him to fulfill our needs and be content with what he has provided.
The first step in depending on God is prayer and supplication, asking to recognize his ownership of all he has entrusted to us. The Bible tells us “everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord” (1 Chr 29:11). We are simply his care takers or stewards. All of the material stuff we consider so important will turn to dust someday.
Change the American culture, starting at home. Learn to live within your means and get your financial house in order. Develop a plan to pay off your debts and quit spending money as a means of recreation and fulfillment. Stop using your credit cards. If you don’t have the money, don’t buy it! If you have problems overspending your credit cards, cut them up, melt them in the oven or put them in a bowl of water and stick it in the freezer! You won’t abuse credit cards if they aren’t accessible.
Actively volunteer to help those who are hurting and suffering financially. Seek opportunities to work at a shelter or an outreach organization such as Catholic Charities or the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Donate items you are not using to people who really need them.
Use the financial crisis to teach your children about money. There are lots of opportunities to instruct children about the abuse of credit, the harm of greed and the peace of complete trust in the Lord.
One of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is 1 Timothy 6:10. Many people quote this verse as, “Money is the root of all evil.” It really reads, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Money is simply a tool and is neither good nor evil. Our love of money, the decisions we make when using money and the things on which we spend money are often not good.
The Bible has more than 2,350 verses that relate to money, possessions and stewardship. The Bible says more about money than any other subject. From the Old Testament times until today, God knew how much of our lives would be devoted to the effort of making, managing and spending what the world considers wealth.
Considering how often the Bible teaches godly principles of handling money, we have choices to make. We can use money to fulfill selfish desires or we can use money to further God’s kingdom on earth. We can use money to keep up with the neighbors or we can use money to help our neighbors. We can use money to accumulate worldly wealth or we can realize that true wealth is not of this world. We can worship money or we can worship God.