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The Spiritual Angle on Inflation

Patrick Blair

Inflation is like toothpaste.  Once it’s out, you can hardly get it back in again. –Carl Otto Pohl

 

There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose ….  -John Maynard Keynes

We have inflation almost every year, but it’s hardly noticeable.  Sure, when you look back five, ten, twenty years you recognize it, but it feels almost nostalgic rather than harmful.  Even long-term homeowners perceive their home value increase as a blessing (but not the younger buyers).

U.S. CPI Inflation (%)

There’s recently been a dramatic shift in the status quo.  Inflation is high enough to be very noticeable in everyday goods like food, cars, gasoline, appliances, and building materials (not just in housing, health care, and education).  The cost of most services have also been rising.  Wages have been rising, but to a much smaller degree.  Bottom line, our standard of living is falling.

 

Will the inflation be “transitory” as the Federal Reserve has been saying?  (Transitory is just a fancy word for temporary).  Will inflation die down now that people are going back to work, and government stimulus has slowed down?  As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

 

It’d be interesting to analyze how much more inflation we might see, and the many factors involved, but this article is the spiritual angle on inflation.

 

Humility

A world with heavy inflation can upend all you know about how the economy works and your personal situation.  Most of us didn’t experience the 1970s inflation as adults and the havoc it wreaked.  The 2020s could be like the 1970s, maybe better, or maybe worse.  The fact is that no one can tell the future and we just don’t know.  Consider these passages:

 

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. -James 4:13-14

 

Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:

As fish are caught in a cruel net,
     or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
     that fall unexpectedly upon them.
-Ecclesiastes 9:12

 

Humility can help us cope with fast-changing circumstances.  I recently stopped buying certain foods at the grocery store because their prices rose dramatically.  I don’t have a God-given right to reasonably priced meat and vegetables.  It is what it is. 

 

Certain foods went from everyday items to luxury items (admittedly, I’ve been complaining some).  Will we be slow to adapt or humble to changing circumstances?  To keep our finances in working order, many of us will have to dramatically adapt our lives.

 

There will be many circumstances you can’t predict and can’t control.  That’s reality.  The sooner you understand that the better off you will be (and that includes all you who think you know a lot about money and the economy).

 

Shrewdness

As Christians, should we roll over and be victims to inflation?  Should we leave our money in places that get decimated by inflation?  Is it our role in this world to be passive sheep?  Consider Jesus’ directive to his early disciples:

 

… be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.  -Matthew 10:16b

 

You may not think of yourself as an investor, but anyone who has any resources is an investor on some level.  You may not play the market, flip houses, or trade cryptos, but you still have to make decisions about what you do have.

 

Where should you keep your wealth?  I don’t know exactly, but I believe the place to start is to realize that no one knows for sure.  In Ecclesiastes 11:2, Solomon says: “Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.”  Diversify, diversify, diversify.  Learn what true diversification means.

 

Compassion

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” -Matthew 15:32

 

Our hurting world doesn’t need another problem like inflation, but whatever the challenge, Jesus taught us to have a compassionate outlook.  There are many examples of Jesus’ compassion in the Gospels.

 

Don’t forget to be charitable to those in need, even when your own personal finances are challenged.  Whatever you have is what God has allowed you to manage for him.  Giving is great and so is helping others to have a solid income (i.e., job help) and managing their finances well.  Don’t ignore your heart in these challenging times and those to come.

 

Conclusion

High inflation is not something to be ignored.  It is something to be responded to and prepared for both financially and spiritually.

Contents of this material have been re-published with permission from Faith and Finances Ministry (www.faith-finanaces.com)