Republican presidential candidates sparred last Monday night over competing plans to create jobs and stimulate our struggling economy. The previous Thursday, President Obama announced a new plan to do the same.
Yesterday the issue became even more urgent. A Census Bureau report released Tuesday states that 46.2 million Americans are impoverished, more than ever before. The Great Recession and its aftermath have left nearly one in six Americans living below the poverty line, defined as an annual income of $22,314 for a family of four.
The current financial crisis is the most recent of 12 such setbacks over the last 40 years, according to a recent editorial in Forbes magazine. The article states that the dollar has fallen in value over the last four decades by more than 70% against the euro/German mark and the Japanese yen. U.S. net exports have fallen from a modest surplus 40 years ago to a $400 billion-plus deficit today.
After hearing the president, listening to the candidates, and worrying about another recession, I am wondering this morning: what would God say about our economy? What if he made a speech on our financial future? Actually, he has.
Here are his responses to the economic challenges we face. We begin with greed, the cause of so much of the Great Recession and its aftermath: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
What about injustice and dishonesty, key contributors to our plight? “Better is little with righteousness than much gain with injustice” (Proverbs 16:8); “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Proverbs 13:11). What does God think about the foreign debt we have amassed? He warns us: “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).
How does he feel about the growing number of impoverished people in our land? He counsels us to “seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). What is the ultimate solution to our plight? “Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4).
If Americans lived by God’s financial principles, how different would the news be this morning?