The cost of living is going up. Generally speaking, you know it; I know it. But rather than contenting ourselves with vague and fuzzy general approximations like that, let’s talk a bit more about the hard math involved here, and use some real numbers.
New rate of inflation data is expected May 11th – that is, today at time of publishing. But in the meantime, we have last month’s numbers for the previous 12-month period, and those put us at 8.5% nationwide – the highest rate recorded in the U.S. since December, 1981.
My having been born in 1986, that means inflation in America is worse now than its been since five years before I was born. Put another way, this is objectively the worst inflation I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.
Now suppose you made $44.00 per hour in 2012. USInflationCalculator.com tells me you would have to earn $55.10 per hour in 2022 to maintain parity in terms of spending power with what you had back then. That is, what your money is actually worth in terms of being able to exchange it for goods and services has experienced 25.2% in cumulative inflation over the past decade.
Using bigger numbers, like annualized take-home salary, suppose you made $85,000 a year in 2012. Adjusted for inflation, you would need to be earning $106,000 now to keep up.
Now for the question: What is the spiritual response to such mathematical equations?
To a husband and father, particularly one who serves as the sole breadwinner for his family, whose wife stays home with their many children, and homeschools them, the pressure and dilemma is real.
1 Timothy 5:8 says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
That is to say, Christian breadwinners don’t just have the option, liberty, or right to earn a living to provide for their families. They have a duty before God to endeavor at such, and to make ends meet, especially for their wives and children.
Considering such, I think back to when I went back to Montana in 2012 to get a job in the Oil and Gas industry. Some back in Ohio, what was at that time our home, did not at first understand. Surely there were plenty of jobs where we lived. I just needed to do better and work harder, and trust God more.
But are such pronouncements all there is to it? Do any other Biblical principles apply as well?
Well, yes. Ecclesiastes 10:19 comes to mind, for one thing. “Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything.”
Perhaps counterintuitively, so does James 4:13-15. “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.””
No, there is no contradiction here with 1 Timothy 6:10. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
On the contrary, these two truths apply simultaneously – that money answers everything as Solomon tells us, and also that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil as Paul writes to Timothy. Do work and earn and consider what is required to be responsible and make ends meet – but do it out of love for God and those around you. Never treat money as an end unto itself, but always only as a means to ends.
And consider how God sent dreams to trouble Pharaoh about seven years of plenty being followed by seven years of famine. The too-easy and possibly over-spiritualized response would be to say we need not worry, let not our hearts be troubled, and to be more or less warmed and filled. But remember that God worked the troubling of Egypt’s ruler by prescient dreams to a good purpose, to promote Joseph to a place of prominence and save his people Israel thereby.
So, then, we should say this and no more, that God provides for those who trust in Him, just not always by keeping us where we are.
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