Stimulus Checks

John Piper has an excellent blog post about how Christians should think and act with the stimulus checks that are coming in the mail.  Of course President Bush wants you to go out and buy a flat screen to keep the economy from crashing further, but there might be something better we can do with it.  For many of us this means paying down debt, paying tuition (which is what I will probably end up doing with mine).  But if you find yourself in a financial setting in which you have food in the fridge and a roof over your head listen to the words of John Piper.

For a moment, forget the political puzzle of getting money back when the country is nine trillion dollars in debt. The more immediate question is: How will you make much of Christ with your “economic stimulus payment”? The president says it will be in the mail in time for Cinco de Mayo.

Clue: 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.

But do we really need this money? Very few do. We would have gotten on fine without it. If we didn’t know it was coming, we wouldn’t even be feeling the desires we are feeling right now.

May I encourage you to be radically creative and hedonistic. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). And those crazy Macedonians in a “severe test of affliction” and in “extreme poverty” had an “abundance of joy” that overflowed in a “wealth of generosity.” They even begged Paul “for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:2-4). They really believed what Jesus said. Really.

Before the check comes dream of some person or ministry which might make much of Christ because you treasured him above your next home project.

The reason God created money and enabled us to earn it is so that we could show by the way we use it that money is not our treasure, Christ is. That’s why the checks are coming. So we can make Christ look great.

“Be content with what you have, for he has said,
‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Just something to think about…

HT: Justin Taylor

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6 Responses

  1. “For a moment, forget the political puzzle of getting money back when the country is nine trillion dollars in debt.”

    I think this stimulus package is political BS too (BOTH parties guilty, Ryan; you can’t lay this one solely at GWB’s feet).

    But…

    Why does 50% of the country, including John Piper too it would seem, not get basic economics? More people having more money in circulation leads to higher government revenues. Less people having less money leads to less tax revenue. It isn’t even counterintuitive, is it? Seriously, I don’t get why so many people don’t get this concept.

    His point is a good one, though. I am not sure how we are going to use ours yet, though.

  2. Yes Adam but you are not factoring inflation, and the continuing devaluing of the dollar. How long can America continue to print money and fall so far away from any Gold standard?

    Yet we find ourselves on the verge of stagflation. In which if we lower interest rates and make money more available business benefits and the economy thrives, but at the same time we drive the prices of goods up and the dollar continues to suffer a beat down in comparison to the Euro. Mark my words if we continue to print money at such a reckless pace it won’t before long before the dollar is no longer the universal currency it is now.

  3. I’m not talking about printing money. That is a very bad idea. I am talking about keeping taxes, especially corporate taxes, low. Cutting spending deals with deficits, and hopefully long term debt. But taking more money from the people in the form of taxes has the oppostie effect…it doesn’t increase revenues, it decreases them.

    In my mind, the thing to do is pull some money out of circulation, keep taxes low, and cut spending drastically. Of all three potential Presdients, though, I see tax increases (bad idea) and the same or more spending (bad idea). We are indeed in for hard times.

    My point was just that so many don’t seem to get that higher taxes does not equal higher revenue. It has the opposite effect, and is well-documented to do so. But it persists as conventional wisdom, which frustrates me.

    BTW – charitable giving will be the first thing to go when Next President raises taxes. And I have a feeling it will go HARD.

  4. My mistake Adam I misunderstood your comment. I think you would be surprised that we agree more than you realize.

    If there is one Constitutional amendment I would want to see passed it would be a mandatory balanced budget. How immoral is it to pass on crippling debt to generations that have had no voice in the process and are not even born yet. As it stands right now the only people that are allowed to spend more money then they have and continually operate out of a deficit are, spoiled kids with rich parents to fall back on, and the US government.

  5. I agree. I get debt financing, and I think there are often times it is called for. But there has to be a chance of paying it back, and there should be some kind of freeze until it is paid back. I am not sure about an amendment, but if that would be what it takes…

    Government programs end up costing more by a percentage, too. I don’t know, something like 30% more than private programs (that number is not reliable, I am trying to remember from a while ago) by the time everything is done. Which is why I would like to see any major program, such as healthcare, regulated by the government but administered privately.

    Oh well, we’ll probably use the stimulus to pay for school or some such. Or a convertible. Convertibles make bald guys look cooler, no?

  6. Kind of funny, because I was just trying to explain to someone down here in Colombia how the government was going to send people money in the US. It was a concept that was so foreign to the person that I was explaining it to, that I stopped halfway through it just to think about how crazy the idea must sound to a person who lives in another country. Here in Colombia, if you don’t work then you don’t get paid. Very few jobs – almost none from what I have heard – pay you for vacation time or for being sick. If you don’t physically put in the time, then you don’t get paid. That a government would send people upwards of 1,200 dollars for doing nothing, kind of shows how prodigal America can be or seem.

    And also, the amount that the government is sending people kind of boggles people’s minds. For example, minimum wage here is 2,000 pesos per hour or 400.000 pesos per month (2,000 pesos is about the same as 1 dollar). If you make a minimum, people think you have locked into a great job, since most people work for less than that. So, to continue, people here live on less than 200 dollars a month. America sounds a little nutty to people down here….but, they would love to be getting a check for doing absolutely nothing.

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