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Oct 06
2008
CEN

Economic Earthquake!

Posted by: CEN

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America is in the grip of major economic upheaval.   Unemployment is rising; some of the largest and more prestigious financial companies suddenly are bankrupt; some investors cannot get money out of investment accounts.   In one word, "fear" is gripping many in our nation -  fear of a financial meltdown.   Some are turning to the government to fix the problem; others are looking at their own wisdom;  while others choose to deny that any storm raging will strike them.

 

What is the basis of the problem?
We -  individually, in our corporations, and in our governments -  owe $57 trillion dollars.   Much of this massive debt  was highly leveraged for companies, meaning for every dollar in capital, companies owed 30, 40 or even 50 times more.   A family with a home equity of $50,000, retirement savings of $50,000, and a $10,000 emergency fund would owe $5.5 million dollars using the same leverage.  While that type of leverage looks ridiculous for individuals, corporations did the same thing.   Habakkuk wrote in the Bible, “Will your debtors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their victim.” (Habakkuk 2:7 New International Version - NIV)

We don’t need a degree from the Harvard Business School to live within our means.   We  need  to exercise Biblical truth.    Living without that is the problem.   One person   borrowing $5 million dollars with $110,000 is irrational, but investment banks did the same thing - only with more money.   Likewise, when business or governments take on massive borrowing, a day comes when no one will lend to us and the results will be devastating.

How did we get here?
First, we failed to understand that debt is a curse, never a blessing (see Deuteronomy 28).   As King Solomon wrote, “The borrower is a servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7 NIV)

Second, borrowing presumes on the future.   James wrote in the Bible, “Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (James 4:13-14)

Third, we  all prefer to spend more than we make.   Corporations seemed to believe that the more they borrowed, the more money would be made.   Governments believe they can spend now, while borrowing to pay later.  Consumers also buy something now, and pay later.

What should Christians do about it?
First, we need to accept personal responsibility if we have borrowed beyond our means.   King David wrote in the Bible, “The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.” (Psalm 37:21 NIV)   Excess borrowing money we can’t pay back is like any sin; we need to confess to the Lord and appropriate others, and then move forward with God’s mercy.

Second, if we haven’t borrowed or are in a good financial situation, we need to focus on thanking the Lord for sparing us this crisis personally,  being careful not to become prideful in today’s brutal environment.   Anyone’s situation can change literally in one hour, or less.

Third, we can pay down any debts.    Steps taken to reduce debt are better than allowing debt to grow.

Fourth, we need to brace for the likely consequences of our national borrowing binge.   Stay focused on the Lord;  ask for His guidance and wisdom.    Christians can navigate through the storm that will sink many ships.   God will lead us better than any Wall Street analyst.

Finally, draw near with your family and close friends.   Be willing to lend a hand, as well as ask for a hand, and bear one another’s burdens.   In times of stress and upheaval our personal relationships will help carry us through.

The opportunity.
When we choose to make Christ alone our anchor, we become the calm in the storm.   King David wrote, "He (God)  will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." (Psalm 91:4 NIV)

As more and more financial security is ripped from people, and their world collapses, people will see the need for the Lord.   The day of trusting in our bank account, home, government or business will be forced to end.   We can then share the hope of Christ, and be “quick to give an answer for the hope that is within us.”   (I Peter 3:14-16)

Tithes and offerings made will be important in funding the Lords work.   While God does not need our money for ministry, out of a grateful heart we should want to support His work during a critical time.

Regardless of how broken the world becomes, and how broken the people in our world are, we have an opportunity to share the only true hope, Jesus Christ.


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