Opinion by Jack Kelley
Several financial editorials I’ve read lately have mentioned how happy everyone is to say goodbye to 2008, as if they believe it’s all over now and 2009 will be different. As we step gingerly into the new year most people can only hope that’s true, because nobody can say for certain. No expert can tell you how deep our financial pit really is. They don’t know where or when the housing market will bottom out. They don’t know how much it’s eventually going to cost to keep the Big 3 automakers out of bankruptcy. They can’t tell you how much pain still lies ahead in the consumer credit markets. In fact they can’t say anything at all for certain because they just don’t know. All we can tell for sure right now is that whatever the experts are doing isn’t working yet. No long term strategy has emerged so there’s no clear path back to prosperity.
But as Christians we don’t have to wonder what to do. There are a few steps we can take right now to make sure 2009 will be better for us than 2008. I hesitate to call them New Year’s resolutions because we all know how long those last. And I’m not going to waste our time telling you to get out of debt. That was good advice a few years ago, but if you didn’t take it you’ll soon be selling things on e-Bay to raise cash, if you aren’t already. But since we’re all more favorably disposed to start fresh at the beginning of the year, here are some things we can do now to ensure a better time ahead.
1. Stop Worrying: Matt. 6:33-34. Seek the Lord’s righteousness and His Kingdom in everything you do and let Him do the rest. Stop working to make ends meet and start doing whatever you do for the Glory of God (1Cor. 10:31). Instead of living in faith that the same geniuses who got us into this mess will somehow get us out of it, start living in faith that the One who has never deceived you will meet your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19)
2. Store Up Treasure In Heaven: Matt. 6:19-21. Start performing random acts of kindness in the Lord’s name. Become a light in this dark place. It doesn’t take much, and all you’re asked to do is what you can. I don’t care where you go to church, there’s someone in the room with you who urgently needs help. The soup kitchens, food banks, and emergency shelters have constant needs as well. Find a place where the Lord’s working and pitch in. Everyone in need is your neighbor (Luke 10:29-37). Be a good neighbor.
3. Increase Your Giving: Luke 6:38. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but that’s because our fallen nature gives us a scarcity mentality. We want to hang on tighter when we don’t have as much, forgetting that the Lord uses the same measure in blessing us as we use in blessing others. As a result just as we need more blessing, we get stingier. He has unlimited wealth and will share it with us to the same degree that we share ours with others.
4. Keep Things In Perspective: 1 Cor. 10:13. Just about everyone has lost something. Many only have about half of what they had a few months ago, and things are hard for them too. Want to know the most popular item unwanted gifts were exchanged for this Christmas? Cash.
5. Make A Joyful Noise: Psalm 100. There are plenty of folks crying the blues. Rejoice in all things. Let your gentleness be evident to all. We think that peace brings joy, but the opposite is true. Joy brings peace. (Phil 4:4-7)
For us this isn’t just a temporary strategy to help us survive until things get better. It’s our End Game. It’s best to assume that things aren’t going to get better until that soon coming day when we suddenly disappear with out a trace. Doing these five things now will bring us a Happy New Year in 2009 and beyond. Plus it will also ensure that we have an eternity of happiness later. These are my thoughts on 01-01-09