The Beginnings of Christian Reform (6)

I am a great believer in having at least six months’ basic expenses in a bank account. I realize that most Americans do not have this. This is why they are so vulnerable when unemployment doubles or triples in a recession. They are in a terrible situation.

I strongly believe that churches should train deacons who will be ready to counsel people who are in a jam like this. One of the pieces of advice that deacons can give has to do with cutting expenses. Buying in bulk is an obvious way to do this. Families have to cut their food budgets, which means oatmeal bought in bulk rather than high sugar content breakfast cereal in brightly colored packages. Families will have to eat a whole lot more eggs than beef or even chicken. People don’t like to change their diets, but it is better to change your diet than to try to maintain the same level of expenditure on groceries that you spent before you lost your job.

It is important to have reserves. Everybody knows this, but it’s easy to kick the can down the road: “maybe next month.” Congress can afford to do this; you may not be able to.[1]

What people think about money and other tangible resources is always very revealing. And one thing we know about the future is that there are always uncertainties. We can be certain about God and His faithfulness to us, but that certainty doesn’t preclude us from making plans and taking steps, to ensure we are prepared for financial problems that can come.

If high unemployment returns in the West, financial preparedness for emergencies comes to the fore. It’s bad enough losing your job, but what if you had nothing much saved for a crisis, and you were six months out of work?

Let’s say you prepare, and save up six month’s basic expenses, for hard times. Unemployment rises in a recession, and you have people in your street, or coming to your church, who need help. They don’t just need money, they need advice about how to handle their difficulties and to organise themselves financially. You’ve gone through this process, and you know what to do.

Jesus spoke about this. He said,

… if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you (Luke 16:11).

Becoming a competent financial manager is a prerequisite to coping with “…true riches,” that is, people’s lives. This means that any responsible believer can do this; you don’t have to be a leader, though you may become one-soon.

And it’s not just individuals who can do this. Whole churches could be trained in financial management by their elders, and prepared for financial emergencies, so that if a crisis hits, they are ready to assist the community, family by family. That’s a valid, legitimate way to get credibility, something that’s been sorely lacking in our churches for decades. When you have credibility with people, and have shown you are concerned for their welfare and have their best interests at heart, then you can move on to greater things with them.

Knowing how to help people with their financial problems means a lot to needy people. The Lord said concerning Levi, that “true instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts” (Mal.2:6-7).

But its first things first. People in crisis who need something to eat tonight (and you just happen to be able to provide that), will appreciate your care and selflessness. Wouldn’t you? So, you deal with their problems (as well as you and your church can), one thing at a time. There’s nothing wrong with that.

You gain credibility in natural things with people, then they may give you a hearing to talk to them about spiritual things (I Cor.15:46). Credibility must be established first, because otherwise, who are you in their eyes?

Conclusion:

Christian people have to show themselves to be competent at what they do, if they want to get a hearing from people in need. One very good way to do this is to establish competency in our financial management, and budgeting. When we’ve done this, we’ll have a basis for helping others.

Are you ready for some responsibility? It may come sooner than you think.

 

[1] Gary North (www.garynorth.com) “Lessons I Learnt from Howard Ruff,” 23/10/2018.

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