There's much talk about who's to blame for the financial mess swirling around us. I'm sure you've voiced your opinion. I know I have. We've all thrown in our proverbial two cents of advice.
Some blame Wall Street, some the White House or Pennsylvania Avenue. Others blame #10 Downing Street in London. Everyone asks: what's to be done for Main Street?
It seems everyone picks a street or location other than the one that truly counts. It begins in your house, not the White House. Like the ol' Rodgers and Hammerstein tune from "My Fair Lady" it's "On the Street Where You Live!"
Sorry if the truth hurts! Actually I'll take that back. I'm not sorry! Truth is the beginning of understanding because, as Jesus Christ said, "the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
For seventy years since World War II much of Western society, America in particular, has ridden an incredible wave of prosperity with several recessions along the way. Hot and cold economies are part of the financial cycle of "what goes up must come down" and are the expected rhythms of economics.
But this current economic crisis is shaping up to be bigger than anything since the Great Depression. What happened that brought us to where we are today. And why does the answer begin on the street where you live?
Priorities that count
Over the last 70 years, Western society began to not only "keep up with the Smiths and the Joneses" but to also draw the whole world into the mix.
What once was perceived as blessings from the Almighty became a culture of materialism after WW II—underlined with the old fashioned biblical word "coveting." That word, the focus of the 10th Commandment, means to be driven by greediness, envy or selfish desires.
Our eyes became bigger than our wallets. We reached beyond our means. We wanted everything, now and on credit, as if we would never have to pay the piper. Well, the piper has come to town. In fact, he may be outside your door—on the street where you live. And he's in a collecting mood.
Answers anyone? Yes, and it won't take a trillion bucks.
Back to basics
A man, 160 years ago, moved from the house on the street where he lived, passed by Main Street in his New England village and walked into the woods towards a pond called Walden. He built a small cabin to live in and planted his own bean field.
In the simplicity of such life, Henry David Thoreau concluded: "Our life is frittered away by detail." Thoreau, even in his extreme manner, was on to something.
Ask yourself, "How simple is my life compared to 5 or 10 years ago?" Multi-tasking, the big term of today, has its limits. So do multiple bills and staggering interest that place chains on us as real as iron shackles.
It's interesting that Scripture speaks of a "simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3). While these few biblical words suggest many considerations, I take away one simple thought—that my life as a pilgrim in Christ cannot be weighted down by pointing my finger at Wall Street, Main Street, the White House, or even my neighbor, but—"for me and my house" (Joshua 24:15)—by determining how to move forward.
It is time for all of us to go back to basics and ask what is essential and what is non-essential regarding the quality of life and not simply the quantity of the "things"—yes the "stuff"—listed on our credit card statements.
We, the whole world, have been caught up in the rat race of life. The fact of the matter is that we are made "in the image of God" (Genesis 1:26-27). It is time to start acting like it.
Put it all together
I'm not suggesting that you go as far as Thoreau and live in a cabin by a lake and raise beans, unless that's how you want to retire. But I am suggesting that you consider the steady pounding of his words like the blacksmith's hammer on an anvil—simplify, simplify, simplify.
God wants more than to "bail you out"—He wants to give you and your loved ones workable guidelines for a lasting future.
But He has conditions! And He wants you to know what they are and how to implement them in your life.
To help you move down that path and assist you in staying in that house that you are trying to hold on to "on the street where you live," please request or download our free, informative publications: Making Life Work and Managing Your Finances.