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Archive | March, 2009

“Be Generous”

22. March 2009

“Be Generous”

Viewpoint

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Lessons of Life and Death

11. March 2009

Lessons of Life and Death

Encouraging a culture of life helps everyone

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Doing Good Secretly

11. March 2009

Doing Good Secretly

A page for kids

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The View from the Pit of Plan A

09. March 2009

Wisdom from James on the current financial crisis

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The View from the Pit of Plan A

09. March 2009

Wisdom from James on the current financial crisisAnyone with a pulse realizes that the world is facing its most significant financial crisis since the Great Depression. Trillions of dollars of investment capital have evaporated, major financial institutions have collapsed, government leaders are scrambling in a feverish attempt to address these issues and people are panicking.

Most likely everyone reading these words has been impacted in some way by these unnerving and unprecedented events. The question many people are asking is: How did this happen? The answer to that question is obviously complex in many ways. A variety of financial factors contributed to this crisis including subprime loans, a housing bubble, hedge funds and runaway consumer spending. But, in another sense, the answer to this question is amazingly simple and it can be found in the Epistle of James:

“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. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (Jas. 4:13-17).

In this portion of his epistle, James is replying to a group of self-confident business men who are planning their financial future. One can almost imagine these businessmen gathered around a map of the Mediterranean world as they plot their profit making schemes and put their business plan in motion. We can imagine one of them pointing his finger to the map and saying, “Tomorrow we will go to this city, establish our operations for a year and we’ll make a fortune!” The entire attitude of these men is arrogant and godless. They believe only in the certainty of their own success and their self-sufficiency. They display an utter lack of humility and their plans are entirely devoid of any mention of God. They choose pride over providence.

Our present financial crisis arose from a similar choice. We could easily substitute 21st Century investment bankers, bank executives or mortgage brokers for James’ ancient businessmen.

They too were confident of their ability to carry on business and make money. They too chose pride over providence. The substitutions, however, do not end there. We could also substitute ourselves for James’ ancient businessmen. Like them, too many of us imbibed of the cordial of self-confident capitalism. We embraced by faith the orthodoxies of the modern investing world. We became devotees of “financial planning” and “retirement planning.” We believed that we could endlessly shovel money into our retirement plans, buy stocks and make money. We thought our retirements were guaranteed. We slowly, but surely, began to trust in pride over providence.

My point is not that planning for our financial futures is a denial of providence per se. The Bible does not prohibit us from making plans about our future, even our financial future. In fact, the Bible actually encourages us to make plans. Think of how Joseph is commended for his wisdom in storing up grain for the years of famine that would be experienced in Israel (Genesis 41:48-49). The Bible never condemns us for engaging in wise planning, but it does condemn us when we engage in planning which is presumptuous and prideful. The present financial crisis is a stark reminder of this eternal truth. That’s how God’s Word speaks to your world.

—Anthony Selvaggio

Anthony Selvaggio is theologian in residence of the Rochester, N.Y., RPC., and is a Witness contributing editor. This new column will appear several times each year.

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The King of Kings

09. March 2009

The King of Kings

A summary of Psalm 72

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Testimonies from RP Missions

09. March 2009

Testimonies from RP Missions

Carla and Kaitlyn speak of blessings and eye-opening experiences

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Short-Term Missions Making a Long-Term Impact

09. March 2009

Short-Term Missions Making a Long-Term Impact

“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

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Seek the Welfare of the City

09. March 2009

Seek the Welfare of the City

Los Angeles RPC

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Preaching or Death

09. March 2009

Preaching or Death

Why everyone needs gospel preaching

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Around the Church

03. March 2009

Eastvale RPC, Russell RPC, and RPTS

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