God, Gas Prices and the Stock Market

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. I Timothy 6:17

Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Luke 12:15

Some of you may remember the post from last May about “God and gas prices.” Now, six months later, the price for a barrel of oil has dropped to below $70 for the first time in fourteen months. The price for gasoline is once again below $3 per gallon in many areas of the country. Last spring folks were worried about how to pay for gas; now that oil has dropped over 50% in value from its high this summer, that worry seems a distant memory. But in the meantime, something else also dropped in value: the world’s financial markets.

So now there are bigger worries—or are there? Watching the markets go up and down is a little bit like watching your kids on a see-saw. Our western culture has trusted the conventional wisdom of this world. We have been told security rests in financial well being, in the American Dream. But God has much to say about the wealth of this world, and it is a different wisdom than the world’s wisdom. It is important that you, as parents, view wealth and the acquisition of wealth from a biblical perspective.
God has particular advice for those who are rich in this world. Currently, there is much debate about who is rich. Are you rich if you earn more than $250,000 a year? Are you rich if your net worth is more than 5 million dollars? Are you rich if you have a roof that does not leak and food to eat for the next meal? Are you rich if you have hot, running water? Are you rich if you have more roots to eat than your neighbor? ”Rich” depends a little upon whom you are talking to. But regardless, Paul says to Timothy to tell those who are rich, whatever that may mean, not to put their hope in wealth. This means that whether you are Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Joe the Plumber, or a tribal herdsman—you are not to hope in wealth. Wealth is uncertain. Really? Yes, really. The focus of this world is to urge people to trust in things which are uncertain.

Christian, has God’s faithfulness to you and your family changed in any way in the last several months? God’s care for you is certain. The riches of this world are not. While trillions of dollars may have disappeared in the markets, God care is constant. This financial downturn may result in lost homes, lost jobs and lost savings. This brings difficult challenges. But these sorts of downturns are to be expected from wealth. This is what Paul is saying to Timothy. Jesus taught the same thing in the Luke passage listed above. Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. Of course you should work and plan for the future and attempt to make wise investments. But through all of this, you must remember that wealth is not something to build your hope upon, for it is uncertain.

What is certain is the care of God. Circumstances will change. God will not. Think about these things with your children. Help them to focus on what is certain in life, so that they will not trust in wealth, which is not certain at all. More on this in the next post. Let me know your thoughts.

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