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Pointers along the way #291

Dealing with personal financial problems
- Jacob Ninan

A lot of preaching deals with financial problems with one standard answer -- learn to give (Lk.6:38). What you need to do, they say, is to give a 'seed' money and wait for the hundredfold harvest! Won't God honour your faith when you give from your little, trusting Him to do a miracle for you? You are so desperate you are willing to do anything to get out of your tight spot, even to borrow money and send it to the address on the screen! But one wonders if you are doing this in faith or as a step of desperate bargaining.

Sometimes our loving Father looks at our desperate condition and sends us a miracle when we cry to Him. He doesn't wait to get our theological views right first or correct us in different ways before He shows us His grace. He loves us and wants to help us. But when He shows mercy to someone like this, it is not as if He is confirming that everything else in right in his life. This is just an emergency relief sent out to tide over the present need.

These days it seems to be unkind to suggest to a needy person that perhaps he should cut down on his expenses. These are days when what used to be considered as 'wants' are considered as 'needs' without which life is unthinkable! How can we live without that brand of shoes, or how can we wear last year's dress again? How can people of our status drive that model of car (or whatever applies)? What would people say if my cell phone can't play videos? And so we keep buying and buying until the financial burden crushes us. Greed and covetousness, like the horizon, deceive us to think we are almost there.

Credit cards are very useful when we use them instead of cash to buy things for which we already have the money in the bank. But when we start imagining that somehow money will come by the time we have to pay up, we fall into the vicious cycle of borrowing and then borrowing to pay back what we have borrowed. Taking things on instalments instead of saving up till we have enough money is another scheme that makes us live in unreality.

While our desire to have more and more drives us towards ruin, it is the issue of people's opinion that makes it practically impossible for us to see clearly which our essential needs are and which of our wants can be put away, at least till there is more money with us. It starts at school age when kids just can't bear not to have the things their friends have. When indulgent parents don't have the time to instruct them about the realities of life they won't know know how to handle money even when they grow up.

The way back out of the devil's snare is usually painful and slow, even though we can pray for miracles. We have to eat the humble pie, acknowledge we have done wrong, and make what look like sacrifices to get on the recovery road. They aren't sacrifices but lifesavers. It is best not to get to there in the first place. But if we have, drastic measures are required to get out. We have to learn to put away our cravings and choose the way of life (Pr.10:3,4).