In the laws Moses created for the new nation of Israel, he told them to count off six years of harvests then take a seventh-year sabbatical. Through the prophet Yahweh promised to provide three years of abundance. “You may ask, ‘What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?’ I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. While you plant during the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.” (Lev 25:20-22) With all that abundance, Yahweh also wants us to learn frugal spending, savings, giving, and trust.
Frugal spending is contrary to the spirit of American consumerism espoused by Henry Ford. He believed that if manufacturers produced greater numbers of inexpensive (cheap?) products then greater numbers of lower-income people would buy, more workers could be hired and paid and would have more money with which to buy greater numbers of products.
There is truth in this – up to a point. It works if employers don’t greedily hold down wages paid to their workers, if workers don’t greedily bleed their employers through wage demands and other benefits, if the government doesn’t greedily tax the income of the workers and their employers then usurp God’s place by giving vast amounts of money to people who don’t earn for themselves.
Consumerism also doesn’t work when people outspend their incomes for unworthwhile products and entertainments. Consumer debt helps people buy more expensive, long-term products: refrigerators, automobiles, houses. Excessive debt leads to bankruptcies and dampens the economy. The government’s ultra-excessive debt is a real problem for today’s economy.
More than consumerism powers the economy, personal savings redeems it. Money in the bank not only provides for the consumer during tough economic times, it also provides funds for investments and long-term economic growth – both personal and national. It also follows God’s instructions for economic security.
The axe that strikes at the tree of greed and the root of unbelief in Yahweh’s provision is generous giving. In his book, Enemies of the Heart, Andy Stanley wrote that “Generosity allows us to partner with God as he shows himself in tangible ways to the world around us.” Such generosity makes possible food banks, church benevolence funds, and faith-based organizations such as Catholic Charities.
These organizations rely on God and teach those they help to rely on Him. This makes for highly successful emergence of people out of poverty and other social ills.
Do you trust God to supply your needs? Can you rest in His provision and follow His instructions to save and to give?