Sometimes when we talk about the “global economic meltdown,” we forget that individuals feel the brunt of it. Some lives are changed forever by circumstances beyond their control. Other lives are affected by the result of bad decisions for which they are entirely responsible.
The other day, I read an article about a couple who had just paid for the wife’s tuition as she went back to school to change careers, bought a house, and updated their two cars, racking up about $400 thousand dollars of debt. Then the company he worked for declared bankruptcy so he didn’t even get the severance package that he could have expected. He said all the decisions to go into debt didn’t seem extravagant. Everything would have been fine, except the one thing that he was counting on let him down.
He was put forward as an example of many other “responsible” people who had experienced the philosophical drift from a saving to a spending mentality. He was doing exactly as thousands of others were doing. He simply had bought into the false security that a gradually rising economy suggests is reasonable. But the bubble broke. The unimaginable happened and now he’s within a few months of losing his house and who knows what else.
As I read the story, I thought about all of the reasonable, responsible people who drift deeper and deeper into moral indebtedness - what the Bible calls “sin.” For years the sense of security grows. Things are going well. Life is good. The thought that there might ever be a day when the accounts come due slowly gets pushed further and further into the back of the mind. Yet perhaps it never really disappears. Bernie Madoff, who now has the dubious distinction of being the world’s biggest swindler, spoke to reporters in New York about his being hauled into federal court to respond to 11 charges saying he “knew this day would inevitably come.”
Lots of people have a vague uneasiness about the way they live. They know that their financial dealings would not stand close scrutiny of the tax man. They put their relationships under unnecessary pressure. They think things that they would never allow themselves to be act upon. And they judge others far more severely than they would want to be judged themselves.
The Bible tells us that “each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12) and that “there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). God doesn’t tell us this as a threat, or to spoil our lives, but as an invitation to realign ourselves with Him, and to bring us into abundant life.
© March 2009