1. The problem defined
No one needs to tell us that prices are increasing. We've all experienced the crunch of fuel price increases that impact the average American, as well as other consumer goods prices that fluctuate as much with the rise and fall of stocks as they do with end-user demand.
We don't have to be economic wizards to know that those same increases we're facing as consumers have to be dealt with by those who produce goods too. And, whether it's food, building materials, or automobiles—you name it—the increases we experience in our personal families are faced by those who operate on the retail, wholesale, and manufacturing levels too.
It's more than just a cliché to say that a vicious rise in consumer prices can produce a rippling effect of financial problems at every level.
A mid-2008 Gallup Poll asked American consumers how they cope with rising prices and the results went something like this.
· More than 80 percent made an effort to find the cheapest price for products they buy.
· About 75 percent cut back on spending for eating out, recreation, and entertainment.
· Almost 60 percent tried to control spending with a monthly budget.
· Half were buying cheaper, lower-quality goods.
· Many shop more frequently instead of buying large amounts of consumer goods.
2. The biblical solution
Now, those responses from the poll are the sort of action that every family, particularly those on fixed and limited income really could benefit from by practicing that sort of lifestyle adjustment.
Then, combine that with practical biblical principles and specific assurances from God's Word and you'll discover that elevated prices need not cause Christians to become panic-stricken. For example:
· Looking to the Lord as your helper, rather than the economy or the government, will provide you with strong confidence in God.
"The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing” (Psalm 34:10).
· Living your life based on the righteous presence of God's Spirit within, will help avoid all sorts of self-imposed problems.
"The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry . . . The righteous cry, and the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:15-17).
· Trusting God and His biblical principles to give you direction for your life prepares you to steer clear of unwise opportunities provided by the world.
"The prudent sees the evil and hides himself but the naïve [Lit simple ]go on and are punished for it” (Proverbs 22:3).
· Abiding in the firm assurances of Jesus Christ Himself ought to give every Christian the awareness that God, not circumstances, is guiding us.
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you . . . the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:18, 25-27).
3. A Christian's perspective
Every believer needs to understand that God uses money in order to help us develop our trustworthiness.
This is important to understand. Just think of it—our lives revolve around making, spending, and saving money. When God knows He can trust us with the funds He provides, perhaps then He'll trust us with greater responsibilities (see Luke 16:11).
We must recognize that when Christians worry and become frustrated about money, it reveals that God is not in control of their lives.
Larry Burkett used to say that "God never uses money to worry us.” Instead, God promises to meet the needs of those who will trust Him (see Matthew 6:25).
So, accept the fact that God often uses money (or the lack thereof) as a tool to show us that He is in total control—as a means of seeing just how much we really trust Him.
Our responsibility is to trust the Lord and accept our positions as managers of His possessions—whether we have a lot or a little (see Matthew 6:32-33).
Depend on God and don't panic when prices soar or the economy tanks—trust God, because you can get along without a loan.
Next: Part four of the 4-part Getting Along Without Getting a Loan module – "Satisfying Lifestyle"
Harvey Nowland is a freelance writer living in Gainesville, Ga.