MUCH has been written about the United States' budget deficit and its impact not only on that nation but also on the world economy. The size of the deficit seems overwhelming, and it is clear that there are no easy solutions.
Pundits on various sides of the issue have much to say, but often their outlook represents a narrow or relatively short-term view. The Bible, on the other hand, covers a much broader span. In it we find what we might call ``case histories, examples of how God has helped both individuals and nations.
The Bible is replete with evidences of God's care for man. Yet it also declares the importance of walking in God's pathway if we are to have peace in our lands and in our individual lives. God's pathway is defined in various places and different terms in the Scriptures, but perhaps the most succinct description of that path is in the book of Exodus, where God gives Moses the First Commandment. There we read: ``I am the Lord thy God . . . . Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
In other words, to experience God's goodness and presence in our lives and in our nations, we need to put Him first--obeying the Ten Commandments. Christ Jesus beautifully summarized these commands in simple terms, telling us to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is the key to goodness and prosperity. To do otherwise, as the Old Testament makes clear, is to court disaster.
How does walking in God's pathway help us deal with deficits or other economic troubles? For one thing, it helps us to understand that God--not a paycheck, political influence, a credit card, or a relative--is the source of all good. Christ Jesus illustrated this when he fed thousands of people with only a few loaves and fishes and when he helped the disciples, who had fished with no success, to land a huge catch.
This doesn't mean that we shouldn't have paychecks or relatives or credit cards. But we need to see clearly that these are valuable only when we see them as evidence of God's care. Why is this so? Because even though we may seem to be the offspring of human parents, we are in reality the sons and daughters of God, of Spirit. We are not made up of matter--along with its limitations--but of spiritual qualities such as intelligence, wisdom, and truth. So we have the intelligence and wisdom to make the right
choices economically and in other ways. And we can rely on God's truth--as articulated in the Bible--to help us.
A friend of mine learned this when she got into very deep credit card debt. It started out innocently enough, but soon the situation became burdensome and scary. She tried not to rely so much on the credit card, but all her resolutions seemed to go nowhere. As much as she tried, she just couldn't seem to break out of the indebtedness.
Finally she turned earnestly to God and really was willing to follow His guidance. The answer that came was to trust that God would help her to meet all her needs without having to rely on creditors for more funds. This time she felt an inner conviction that she could and should do this.
She resolved to live within her means and to pay off her debts as diligently as she could. Each time she wrote a check toward the debt, she affirmed the spiritual fact that God was taking care of her. And any time she was tempted to use her credit card, she prayed to God for guidance. Each time she was able to see how best to proceed. After about a year of diligently praying and acting along these lines, she began to see substantial progress and felt less burdened, although the debt still was large. Then , very unexpectedly, she received a lump-sum payment for some work she had done that was more than sufficient to pay the entire balance.
We each can contribute to the resolution of personal or national economic problems as we are willing to pray for more order in our own lives. Through self-examination and prayer we begin to turn from whatever would lead us off God's pathway and into debt or other trouble. As we uncover these elements, we can make a more diligent effort to put God first, to accept His government of our lives, and to see ourselves in spiritual instead of material terms.
Such changes help us to be more fiscally and morally responsible because our thoughts and lives are focused in one direction--God--instead of being pulled in many different ways. In her book The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, speaks of the importance of putting God first and the benefits that come from such obedience. She says, ``The right way wins the right of way, even the way of Truth and Love whereby all our debts a re paid, mankind blessed, and God glorified."
Solving the deficits and other economic troubles of our world will indeed bless mankind, and as we learn to put God first we will see the ``right way to accomplish this goal.
BIBLE VERSE Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Ephesians 3:20,