When my husband and I were young parents, we had to make a tough choice. Have two incomes and put the kids in daycare or make a lot of sacrifices. Doug decided to work as many hours needed to help us slowly climb out of post-college debt and the consequences of bad financial choices. So after child #2 was born, I no longer worked outside the home.
Being a stay at home mom wasn’t a sacrifice for me emotionally. I loved kids and wanted to teach my own. Teaching our own kids, giving them a biblical worldview was most important to us as parents. Seeing the world through God’s lens was key to their intellectual and emotional success. But we were so poor. For a few years, we used WIC, a program that allows low income people to get basics like cheese, baby formula, milk and peanut butter at no cost. One week, we ran out of food a few days before payday. I tried to get food stamps but our monthly income was $100 over the limit. So members of our local church came to the rescue and brought two bags of groceries to our apartment to help us get through until payday.
Financially, I knew we would be in a better place one day because we knew God wanted us to be prosperous enough to have what we needed and then have enough to be a blessing to others during their times of need.
Prosperity Is Not Evil
My husband and I now live in that “one day” where we can be a blessing to others. No, we can’t just go out and buy anything we want (nor would we), but now we’ve been able to buy someone groceries, give an extra tip, and let our children witness that a solid work ethic, patience, and supporting others when you can, bears fruit.
Our kids have never received allowance. Chores are part of being in a family. But they did get paid when they helped their dad in his cleaning business or did “challenging” work in the yard. They were taught to give/tithe and save more than they spend.
Biblical Altruism does not allow for one’s own children to beg bread because others (government) decide how much each a person can keep from what they make. Taxation is too often a masquerade for plain theft and the Bible is clear that God is not the thief. (John 10:10)
The Bible teaches stewarding of resources, property and personhood. This means we can buy nutritious food, maintain our home, manage our “storehouse” like the ant (Proverbs 30:25), while resting in God’s parental care (Matthew 6:25-34). Stewardship of one’s resources, property, and personhood leads to the ability to care for a another jurisdiction: our community. We cannot love our neighbors (those in our community) if we don’t love ourselves (care for ourselves the way the Father desires). So giving–helping others is the offshoot of a discipline of biblical stewardship.
First of all, calling this a gospel is a misnomer. There is one gospel and it’s based on John 3:16-17 and Romans 10:9. For various reasons, the message of prosperity gets a lot of flack. My point here is to say the message is necessary, because we cannot take care of our families and then, choose to assist in the care of our communities if we don’t have enough resources.
Times of Need
Inflation comes and goes. Banking systems are not eternal. As the pandemic is ending, we are seeing some global systems issues…groceries, gas, car parts etc. I read somewhere recently, the more self-reliant you can be, the better (my paraphrase). So first, rest in the fact that our Holy God knows what we need. He has performed food miracles before and He will do it again if needed. Second, we need to steward what we have. Cook what you need for today so leftovers don’t sit in the refrigerator and end up being thrown out. Or cook extra and surprise someone near you with a free meal. Rather than have thousands of dollars sit in a fledging banking system, pay off your debt or repair the things in your house that you’ve put off. Are you growing herbs? Grow extra and dry them to give to neighbors. Have extra time? Volunteer to go to the store for that momma with the newborn baby. Each of has some resource that can be used to maintain our families or multiplied to help someone else if the need arises.
Governments Rise and Fall
Many people in our nation depend on the government to cover their basic needs. I don’t believe these systems–food programs, other subsidies, Medicaid etc. are sustainable in their current condition. So if the world gets worse, a lot of people are going to suffer. The need to stay alive will tempt some to steal from others–that is what dire need will do. Right now, is the time to plan. Whether you consider yourself rich or poor, it doesn’t matter, evaluate how well you are stewarding your resources (including time), property, and personhood. Change what you need to change. Churches and other organizations need to develop innovative systems and strategize what to do if (fill in the blank). Those who use federal programs need to spend wisely, save where you can, plant some vegetables in a pot, abandon the foods and substances that hurt your health…actually, all of us need to do that!
Some changes will be tough. Sacrifice is real as my husband and I discovered when we were young parents. Lack was not in God’s intent when He created the Garden of Eden. But sin happened. The good news for us is: God does not abandon His creation. He has a way.