Vol. 1 - No. 9
Inflation And The Christian
by Robert W. Goodman
Each generation faces different problems. Those who overcome, see the problems and meet them in harmony with truth. Jesus lamented the approaching fall of Jerusalem because they knew "not the time of their visitation." (Luke 19:44). The disciples were commended for having eyes that saw and ears that heard. (Matthew 13:16).
We have been living in a time of inflation. We hear about the economy every day. Even if efforts now under way in Washington overcome inflation, we will live in a time that will be different because of its effects. You have heard the opinions of economists. How much have you heard or thought about the spiritual implications of inflation? What temptations do we face? Are there special dangers confronting us now? Have we seriously considered what righteous principles may need to be stressed to help us keep our goals in life?
Understanding The Bible
Inflation has made it more difficult to understand the Bible. For example, we may consider the weight of gold used in the temple and other precious things in the Old Testament and come up with a dollar amount that is great, but in all likelihood it will not be realistic. The buying power was greater then.
We must be careful in using and defining monetary units in the bible to properly relate them to life. In the common version, the term "penny" is often used. It may be "shilling" in the American Standard. The margin may explain it is seventeen or eighteen cents. What is more meaningful is that this represented a regular day's wage. (Matthew 20:2). With this in mind the monetary units in Luke 7:41 will be more meaningful to look at the larger amount as about wages for two years and the smaller amount as wages for two months. The "very costly" ointment used in anointing Jesus (John 12:3) represented about a year's wages, allowing Sabbaths and a few holidays.
Guard Against Respect of Persons
After years of blurring of class distinction, inflation is forcing more definite classes. More are officially in the poverty class while at the same time sales of expensive gifts, cars and houses are increasing. Through the years the church has become more of a middle class group. We must guard against making a special effort toward the affluent because they can better help us meet the budget or looking down on those of a lower class. In James two we have a strong warning against making this mistake. We must realize the worth of a soul is not determined by appearances or material things.
We Must Learn To Be Content
After years of more and bigger, it looks like we must get used to less and smaller. The trend is away from big cars. Houses and lots are becoming smaller. With increasing housing, utility, food, clothing and transportation costs, we will have less discretionary income. More will be spent for "basics" and less for other things. We can accept this or be filled with greed and be discontented. Hebrews 13:5 entreats, "Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'."
The kind of covetousness that we need to guard against is "An inordinate desire for and love of things." In our materialistic age, new products are always being developed, produced and advertised. Our friends have the latest widget and we are miserable if we don't have one. When we get the widget, then there is a gizmo that we must have. Our lives may be built around things. Our thought, speech and activities relate to things. We may not be careful how we prosper if we can only gain more. When we gain more, God's cause and the less fortunate may not benefit from our prosperity. The soul is starved.
To guard against, these inordinate desires, we must learn to be content. Paul, out of many trials had learned this lesson. (Philippians 4:11-13). Being content does not mean listless, trifling, or selfsatisfied. It means an acceptance of our lot while we work for improvement. It is being pleased with what we have (1 Timothy 6:8) rather than being displeased with what we don't have. Someone has said, "The contented man is never poor: the discontented man is never rich."
More Stress On Family Life
Many men are having to work harder and longer. More wives are working outside the home than ever before and the number is expected to increase. The attendant pressure, fatigue, concern for finances and outside commitments puts a greater strain on family relationships. Under these conditions, fairness demands a sharing of chores. Couples need to arrange some uninterrupted time together. Each must treat the other with courtesy and respect. Sincere praise or compliments will do more good than criticism or nagging. Children must be assured that they are loved. Parents must arrange some "quality" time with the children. A recent government study indicated a typical father spends 10 minutes a day with his children. Another study measures the time in seconds. If this is typical of Christians, how can Ephesians 6:4 be carried out? Parents, take time to be with your children. When less time is spent with children, parents may be tempted to forego discipline. Loving and necessary discipline must not be neglected. Tired parents may allow unrestricted television viewing to influence their children. Parents, there is a battle for the control of the minds of your children. Take care that in your concern to win over inflation that you do not lose your children.
Pressure To Indulge
In these times of inflation, pressure on the job and commuting may be strong. The world thinks there is some easy short cut to release from pressure. It offers liquor, drugs, night spots, and illicit sex. Many overlook the mistakes and lessons of the writer of Ecclesiastes. Jesus was sorrowful even unto death on the night of His betrayal. He sought release with His disciples and fervent, persistent prayer.
Keep Proper View of Life
The world's concept of success is measured by accumulation or means to enjoy physical life. Jesus warned against this in the parable of the rich farmer. (Luke 12:13-21). It would be hard to find a more needed or effective lesson. If some lessons seem remote to life, this one does not. It was given to correct a widespread but mistaken view of life (vs. 15). This man would be considered by men to be good, wise and successful. Jesus said he was a foolish man -- a failure! He was a success materially, but he failed because:
There is concern and confusion about investments. So many of the traditional investments have not been good. People want investments that yield a good return and are secure. The best investment is one enjoined by Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21. Jesus impresses His hearers that all are investors. We are either investing in earth or heaven. We should first give ourselves. (2 Corinthians 8:5). Then every deed of love and righteousness is an investment "in heavens that faileth not" (Matthew 10:40-41; Luke 12:33). The return is beyond computation. (Matthew 19:29).
The investment that Jesus urges on us purifies the heart and governs life. (v. 21). Putting our treasure in heaven controls our thoughts, affections, conversation and activities. It helps mold the soul into the Divine likeness. If we recognize these times of inflation for what they are, they can help in our spiritual development.
In the midst of fluctuating values, one thing remains unchanged. One soul is worth more than all the world. (Matthew 16:26). Some things are now worth little, but not your soul. Are you treating it as that which is most valuable?