Cost of Living crisis: some Biblical encouragements
Dear Church family,
We will all be aware of the looming cost of living crisis. Already we are paying much more for our petrol, soon our gas and electricity bills will sky-rocket, and inflation will continue to make goods across the board more expensive. Commentators expect this situation to last for some considerable time.
As we prepare for these difficult times, allow me to share a few words of instruction and encouragement from the Bible to guide us.
1. Trust your generous Provider
In Matthew 6:25-26, Jesus says,
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
God routinely provides for His creation. Those whom He has adopted into his family are incredibly precious to Him, and can trust Him to know and provide for their basic needs. Life will often feel like a real struggle: Jesus later says ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ (v34). Our days can be full of trouble. In the midst of that trouble, avoid worry, be faithful to God, and trust Him to provide one day at a time.
2. Be like your generous Provider
One of the sure signs that the good news of Jesus transforms a person is that they become increasingly generous. Generosity is at the heart of the gospel: God generously giving His Son for us. Those who know the depths of that generosity in their own hearts, can’t help but reflect it back. Paul highlights a wonderful example of this in the early church:
“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-4
It's one of life’s sad realities that the most wealthy are often the least generous. Conversely, the Macedonian church showed that it’s possible to be poor materially, but rich in generosity. Many of us are economising in preparation for tighter family budgets. But friends, please let’s not economise on our generosity to others. In the days ahead, radical generosity will shine all the more brightly for Christ.
Small spontaneous acts of generosity to friends and neighbours (a meal? An invite for supper? Tickets for the cinema? Offer to babysit for free?)
Structured charitable giving (to church? to Christians Against Poverty? to Nomad?)
3. Be open to receiving help if you are struggling
At the end of August Lucy ran a school-shoe swap initiative. Around 20 pairs of good quality no longer fitting school shoes were dropped off. But sadly, not one person came forward for a free pair of shoes for their children! Christians Against Poverty report that it takes people years of struggling with debt before they reach out for help. We find it very hard to receive help- even when we need it!
But I would strongly encourage anyone who is struggling financially to be open about that. There is help available- prayer support, friendship, encouragement- and also some financial help through our church Care Fund (which is totally confidential). This fund is set apart to help any member of our church family in unexpected financial difficulty. The money is set aside, and can’t be spent on anything else! And yet, it’s always a challenge to encourage people to access this fund.
Please reach out if:
Paying your growing bills is going to send you into debt;
After reasonably economising, the only way of meeting your outgoings is to draw upon essential savings.
We tend to think ‘there’s someone worse off than me’. That may be true, but it doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t also benefit from help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about this.
4. Remember life is more than the abundance of our possessions
When approached about a family inheritance squabble, Jesus answered with a characteristic challenge: ““Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”” (Luke 12:14).
In an affluent place like Henley, it’s easy for those who are really economising to struggle with the sin of envy: your children are missing out on activities or clubs that other parents can still afford; your holidays are mostly in the stay-cation category, whilst your Instagram feed is full of lovely looking foreign holidays.. Hear Jesus’ encouragement: Life does not consist in these things. Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6). Your kids can flourish in Christ without an abundance of expensive clubs and activities, as can you. And for those who are affluent, don’t be deceived. Your life doesn’t consist in the abundance of your possessions either. We will all stand before Christ penniless. The things we accumulate now have no lasting value in themselves- only insofar as we use those things in love and service of God and others.