We are currently living in difficult financial times (not that you need me to tell you, or anything). When we experience a difficult situation of any kind (more than just financial), we have an opportunity to learn valuable lessons. Among them, we should learn how to improve the situation. There are several questions we need to ask–and answer–along the way in order to get to that intended destination.
I’m not an economist. I’m not a politician. And I’m not a politician who thinks he’s an economist. The purpose of this post–and the ones that follow–is not to be political, dogmatic, or controversial. During difficult times, it’s a temptation to let emotion override reason; our goal, however, is to exercise reason by asking and answering pointed questions concerning our current economic climate.
We could spend a long time figuring out exactly what policies and factors led to our current recession. We know a lot of people made some stupid choices. But we also want to know who messed up, right? The government blames businesses. Businesses blame the government. New government blames the old government. The unemployed blame the employed. The employed blame the unemployed. We’re quick to blame someone–anyone–just not ourselves.
Most Americans have taken full advantage of a credit-based economy over the past several years and decades. That means we as consumers have spent more than we have earned. Banks have loaned more than they could afford to people they shouldn’t have loaned to. Americans have tallied up debt on credit cards, car financing, mortgages, department store cards, home equity lines of credit, payday loans, and any other possible way to get something they simply can’t afford with cash. Eventually, the sources of the given credit come calling for their money–especially when their lender comes after them. Though a portion of the downturn is cyclical, we are largely victims of our own dependency on credit and debt. In order to move forward, it’s important that we recognize our role in getting ourselves into financial trouble.
We as Christians shouldn’t be surprised by the answer to “Who’s to blame?” Accepting personal responsibility is at the very heart of becoming a Christian. We submit to God because we realize our sinful shortcomings. We regularly admit to and repent of sin that creeps into our lives. Just as we recognize our spiritual shortcomings, we must have the courage to admit that our poor financial choices contributed to our nation’s economic recession. Only by admitting fault can we accept the personal responsibility to improve the situation.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3