Struggling with the economy… whose economy is it?
The economic news seems to rarely not be sobering. And, we cannot seem to escape the daily litany. What is happening on the employment front? How is the stock market doing? How are things overseas? How are retail sales? What is happening with interest rates? Virtually any news broadcast, newspaper, or magazine will have a number of stories about the economy. All communications mediums are overflowing with economic news.
We try to predict what is going to happen. We try to manage the economy ranging from our personal finances to national and international regulation and management. Theories abound. But, we consistently overlook the fundamental truth- it is God’s economy. We forget that all of creation is God’s. The economy has its roots in the Greek word “oikonomia” which means household management. Oikonomia, in turn, comes from “oikonomos” (manager, steward) which is based on “oikos” (house). So, the economy literally means management of the household. And whose household is it? God’s!
Mankind’s folly is that we continually make our plans for God’s creation without adequately consulting the master planner; the owner of the household. God’s plan includes putting His work first. God’s work is focused on humankind caring for and justly sharing His creation. God is the ultimate creator who yearns for humankind to mirror his creativeness rather than being the ultimate consumer.
God provides for us, but he provides in an abundance that is to be shared, not hoarded. Even when we think that we do not have enough, if we share first, there is always enough for us and the beneficiaries of our sharing. When we consume, we never have enough. We become ensnared in need rather than freed by sharing God’s abundance.
The Biblical tithe, giving ten percent of all we receive back to God before we use it for anything else helps to keep us faithful to God’s economy. It is good medicine for what afflicts our human efforts to live as we want rather than as God wants. For many of us, though, instantly adopting the tithe as our standard for managing our finances could be very unsettling. We have made commitments based on not tithing. But, it does begin to heal our estrangement from God’s economy if we stretch ourselves by committing to a percentage that we will dedicate to God first, and then regularly increase that percentage over a few years until we achieve the tithe.