In light of the slowing economy, and perhaps because this is an election year, Uncle Sam will soon be sending out checks. Those eligible will receive up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples), and parents will receive an additional $300 for each eligible child younger than 17. This is a significant amount of money for many of us, my family included. In response, John Piper wrote an excellent article a few days ago, making this observation:
Nobody in the world will see you spend your money on yourself and conclude that Christ is your treasure. They will assume you are just like them, no matter how loudly you thank God for this boon. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend it on yourself (the way we do with most of what we earn). Not everything we do can look different from the world—eat, pay utilities, fill up the car, wear clothes (even thrift-store clothes). And yes, we hope (somehow) that spending on ourselves in some way contributes to our being more Christ-exalting people.
That spawned some conversation in the blogosphere over whether Christians had any obligation (presumably stemming from Rom. 13:1 and other such texts) to spend the money to stimulate the economy, since that is what the government clearly wants us to do.
Other questions also arise. Is The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 a workable solution to an economic problem? Or is it merely a means to a very short-term rally? And if Christians give away their stimulus dollars to missionaries overseas, might we negate some possible good that the government is anticipating? These and several other questions are presented by Tim Challies to David Kotter. Mr. Kotter is currently the Executive Director of CBMW, but has previously served both as a pastor of a local church and as a finance manager for Ford Motor Company. A scholar and a gentlemen, Mr. Kotter shares significant wisdom and insight to help us think Christiantly about the money many of us will be receiving. His conclusion:
As Christian voters, we should not be fooled by fiscal maneuvers that take money from one group of people and give it to another in the name of boosting the overall economy. The economy only grows if more goods and services are produced, not when money is transferred from one person to another.
Finally, we can be grateful that economic stimulus plans are restricted to this world. The One who spoke the universe into existence and owns the cattle on a thousand hills does not need a plan to boost the domestic prosperity of heaven. Jesus Christ is the ultimate treasure whose glory will infinitely outshine any pleasure we might receive from a rebate check.
Read the whole thing.