If Jesus were walking the earth today, how would he make most of his purchases? Would he use cash, a debit card, or a credit card?
While the Bible is clear that Jesus treasured life experiences and was not preoccupied with accumulating stuff, the Bible also indicates that Jesus frequently spoke about the importance of managing resources carefully and intentionally.
In the 21st century, the way that we manage our resources may be the most reliable indicator of where we are in our relationship with God. The pressure to buy more than we can afford and to accumulate more than we need comes from a variety sources including social expectations, media exposure, and personal greed.
Earlier this week as Amanda and I were going for a walk, we passed two preschoolers playing in a nearby driveway. While I was not eavesdropping, I was amused and astonished to hear one child say to the other, “But I don’t need 50% off on car insurance.” In response the other child quacked like a duck and at the top of his duck-like voice said, “Aflac!”
While I am aware that the kids had merged phrases from two different insurance commercials, as I thought about what I had heard, I realized that these kids had picked up these slogans from viewing repetitive advertisements on TV. If we are not careful and intentional, we will underestimate the power of media advertising to formulate our values, to shape our dreams, and to influence our purchasing. Children aren’t the only ones subject to be influenced by appealing advertisements. Consumers of all ages can be persuaded to make unwise decisions regarding buying and borrowing.
Developing and maintaining good management practices is perhaps more challenging than ever. One thing is for sure: If the cultural norm becomes our default value system, we will inevitably find ourselves in big trouble…steeped in debt, overridden by anxiety, and feeling hopeless about the future.
The Bible has more to say about how we manage our possessions than almost any other subject. In fact, one of the best ways for us to honor God is to learn to manage our resources well. The proposition Jesus gave years ago is still true, especially in the 21st century: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21 NIV).