It’s hard to turn on the news without hearing about the looming debt crisis in the United States. Currently, our national debt stands at over 16 trillion dollars, and growing rapidly. The irresponsibility of our political leaders is obvious. I find it ironic that the one’s left to solve the problem are largely responsible for it. Currently, high stakes negotiations are underway to avoid what is referred to as the “fiscal cliff”, a combination of automatic tax increases and spending cuts for certain government agencies. If a plan to keep us from going “over the cliff” is not agreed to and tax increases ensue it will have a rippling effect on many Americans, impacting retirement savings, disposable income, employment and much more. A recession would become almost a certainty. These are all extremely important issues. Personally, I think raising taxes is the last thing we need to do in an already weak economy and I believe our President and Congress to spend our money like it was their own. But this financial uncertainty is also an opportunity to remind ourselves that as Christians, it shouldn’t be the earthly treasures we live for, but instead, heavenly ones.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”
Jesus taught that the reality of living in the power and presence of God should work out practically in our lives. Our Christian lives are to be counter to what our cultural considers normal. Specifically, Matthew 6:19-20 would have us consider where we should focus both our activities and our assets. It is about which master we serve because we certainly can’t serve two. This passage shouldn’t be taken to mean that financial prudence is wrong, it’s not, nor should it be used to support the redistribution of wealth or the idea that the rich “pay their fair share”. The Bible supports none of these. In fact, being rich or poor proves no advantage at all in the eyes of God. Both circumstances present their own challenges to one’s faith (James 1:9-11). It’s not money, but the “love of money” that is the root of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). But the Bible is clear about priorities in that we are not to put anything before our relationship with God, our service to Him, and our reliance on His grace and provision for today without worrying about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). That’s the point to be made. Not that these problems don’t need to be solved. They do. Not that our leaders shouldn’t be more fiscally responsible, they should, and not that we shouldn’t desire a decent return on financial investments. That’s alright as well. But the Lord’s greatest concern isn’t any of these things. His greatest concern is our heart and it’s our hearts that will determine what we invest in. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Who knows if your 401K will give you the return you desire and if our country will ever get our debt in order? But you can know that if you’ve put your trust in Jesus Christ alone, not only do you have a guaranteed return, but your debt has also been paid in full. So where are your treasures laid up? Are they laid up for this life or the next? Life is made up of a series of choices; choices that have consequences. Why make the choice that puts everything at risk when you can make an investment that guarantees a return, and where there’s no debt left to pay? Search your heart as to where your treasure lies. Is it in Christ? If not, you may need to rethink your investment strategy.
Unfortunately, our political leaders may be reflecting the will of the people. Give me something for nothing. What’s in it for me? The people rarely seem to think about doing what is morally right only what is right for their selfish interest. Without this selfish outlook how could politicians win elections on some of the issues that they support? They are empowered by the ‘American people’ who they tell at every turn are blameless victims. Have you ever heard a politician suggest that any problem lies with the ‘American people’. Of course not, we are blameless according to those who need our vote. Contrast this with the view of the Christian who acknowledges that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. Perhaps this contrast explains at least some of the cause of our leadership problem in this country. We get what we vote for.