In light of the signs pointing to what some are calling the “economic crisis of a century,” an “economic Pearl Harbor,” or a “financial tsunami, including the collapse or near collapse of some of largest financial institutions in American history, I believe we all have reason now to ask: “What can I do to help solve this problem?” We believe it is time we stop looking to the federal government as the final solution and mobilize the grassroots of this nation to bring about the economic change that is desperately needed.
Here are the steps we believe will solve this crisis by each of us doing our part to fight this on a personal, local level.
The most glaring error in all the news reports, public debate, and political rhetoric is that we have yet to hear any leader make reference to our collective need to look beyond ourselves for a solution and turn to God Almighty. Yet, when we read of our political leaders identifying the root cause of this meltdown as “greed,” it is as if we have forgotten that greed and its resulting consequences are a heart problem, not a policy problem.
The Scripture teaches that money is not the solution to money problems. In fact, it says that whoever loves money never has enough, and that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Money problems are heart problems and can only be solved by a change of heart initiated by repentance.
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14, NIV).
We call for an emergency economic recovery plan for American citizens to begin immediately. The plan would be for every American to get his or her personal house in order as quickly as possible. Throughout our history, we have shown that when leaders have called upon and trusted in the power and capacity of the voluntary efforts of the American people, we have risen to the challenge. We are a resilient people, willing to do our part in times of crisis. When there is a call to action, we will take up the challenge with great resolve.
As followers of Christ, we should be prepared if we must endure another Great Depression. We must show the world that what holds us together is not a political system, as great as it may be; it is not capitalism, as great as it may be; nor is it even the democracy that has made this nation great. It is the living out of our motto printed on our coins: In God We Trust. The real economic recovery needed is the recovery of the biblical values we hold dear. Call it “The New American Dream – Living Within Our Means,” a concept as old as the Scripture itself. It was God who taught us to:
1. Honor God with our wealth.
2. Save but do not hoard.
3. Get out of debt.
4. Invest wisely and steadily.
Simply put, God wants us to live within our means so we can be free from all financial bondage. We call for churches, businessmen, and the educational sector to implement programs to lead the way.
Ask for the American citizens to show the way for the change we need. We have reversed the sense of order in our nation.
Support measures that create accountability for government officials to get our federal, state, and local governments fiscally responsible. How can we demand change when we reflect the same lack of self control demonstrated by the spending habits of our government?
We must lead, not wait to be led.
We encourage the business community to develop programs that help the real backbone of this culture, the work force. Reward your employees who want to get out of the financial trap they are in. Have a contest or offer assistance to help people to sell their houses, to downsize, to get rid of the gas-guzzler, or to pay off mountains of credit card debt.
As the great unwind takes place, seize the opportunity to help. Offer flexible schedules for the work-at-home parents. Have an assistance plan to avoid foreclosure for those who will live on a budget and make necessary lifestyle changes. Have a Frugal Friday where everyone brings their lunches, shares rides, and reduces wasteful spending. Give a cash prize or gift card to those who have new ideas and ways to help improve the financial health of the company or its employees. Encourage helping others in the company and reward those who take initiative to do that.
We call for a renewed purpose for neighbors and community service groups to find out how they can innovatively help those facing foreclosure in their communities. Step up and ask God for creative solutions that negate the need for a government solution. Many people simply need someone to help them see through the pressure and stress they face. Mobilize volunteers who have the capacity to coach and counsel others in their time of need.
Knock on a neighbor’s door and ask if you can be of any help. Recommend they turn to Crown where they can find a trained financial coach for free.
Ask a retired banker, stockbroker or financial planner if they will help individuals learn basic money management skills rooted in biblical principles. Invite them to speak up in churches, lunch meetings, or in a community room of your apartment complex. Look for wisdom and soak it up when you find it.
Set up assistance programs among professional associations that reward being wise with money. Make living within your means the expected culture in your groups. Pastors, doctors, lawyers, bikers, athletes, car dealers, counselors, retired people, educators, and many more all have large associations that can mobilize people to help others. Make it a goal that your association will implement a new plan to educate those who struggle with financial issues.
God warned us that we must never place our hopes in anything or anyone other than Him. Idolatry is seldom even mentioned in our culture any longer. It has become the norm to replace our dependency on God with an exalted view of education, wealth, athletic ability, travel, entertainment, or power. Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ ” (NIV).
This passage comes with a warning and a promise: money will leave you; Jesus will not. Place your hopes and dreams in a temporal idol and you will have temporal hopes and dreams, but place all of your hopes in Him and He will never disappoint you.
As simple as it may sound, our nation is starved for Truth, for the security of immutable principles and policies. That Truth is found only in knowing and applying God’s Word. For the days ahead, we must anchor our souls in Truth like the comfort found in I Chronicles 29:11-12: “Everything in the heavens and earth is Yours, O Lord, and this is Your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the Ruler of all mankind; Your hand controls power and might, and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength” (LB).
These are the seven steps that we believe will provide a lasting solution for the economic crisis we face. Anything short may postpone the pain but will not solve the root problem.
Our motivation should be to get our own house in order and prepare to serve those around us who are neither prepared nor expecting the challenges we will face. The real antidote to our economic woes lies in our heart…in our beliefs…in our values…in our faith in God.
Originally posted 3/2/11.
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