Three experienced carpenters were laying beautiful hardwood floors in the house my dad was building. They were glad to have the work, even though they were working for a pittance - my recollection is five cents an hour - of what they had earned just a few years before. My dad had borrowed from a relative every penny of the $5,000 that the house would cost. You may have guessed by now, this took place during the Great Depression of the 1930s. My dad never doubted, and neither did the relative who had loaned him the money, that he would be able to pay it back with interest - which he did, because they had both prayed for guidance. Such prayer-based decisions to go forward naturally bless others, and can act as a stimulus to the economy.
Today, many actions are being taken and others contemplated by our government, for stimulating the economy. Lowered interest rates, tax cuts, and rebates - steps already taken to pull us out of what some are calling a recession - are helpful. Our prayers for wise governmental actions are important, but there is more that the individual can do. We can each seek God's will, instead of relying alone on current philosophies, in making spending decisions. This may run contrary to popular opinion. Not too long ago, we were exhorted to save, now to spend. While it is wise to avoid conspicuous consumerism and stock market gambling, it's equally important to avoid fearful hoarding.
Considering money as a medium or means of exchange opens the way to find metaphysical lessons and spiritual guidance in its use. Exchanging is active. It means we are giving and we are receiving. It's a way of observing God's law to love one another. Fearfully keeping hidden and secret resources, or always having to get the best of the bargain breaks that law.
"The love of money," the Bible tells us, "is the root of all evil" (I Tim. 6:10). Love of money itself is usually predicated on lack - lack of money for our needs, lack of prestige or power, lack of confidence in progress and in future supply. Refusing to bow down to such lack and being willing to take on legitimate projects can have far-reaching benefits.
Mary Baker Eddy started this newspaper at the time that has been defined as the 1907-08 depression. Earlier, she had made a decision to build a Church edifice during the time known as the Panic of 1893. The building still stands in Boston, and is used regularly for public services. It's not surprising that she told her followers, "God requires wisdom, economy, and brotherly love to characterize all the proceedings of the members of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist" ("Church Manual," pg. 77).
A friend once pointed out to me that in this instruction, economy is flanked on one side by wisdom and on the other by brotherly love. All economies, large and small, global or household, profit from prayer-based decisions for wisdom and brotherly love. Such prayers naturally rule out greed. Large corporations, particularly multinational ones, are often vulnerable to that vice. Their lack of transparency often hides individual responsibility. But their potential for distributing good throughout the world cannot be overestimated.
Most economists, as well as humanitarians, recognize that a major problem contributing to all kinds of unrest, including terrorism, is that too much of the world's goods is in the hands of the few. Prayer for guidance from the one universal, impartial God, and decisions based on those prayers, are mighty factors in correcting age-old inequities.
Stimulating our economy by prayers and actions proceeding from a desire to bless others as well as ourselves, we live in the promise of this Biblical promise: "No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Ps. 84:11). There is enough of everything to go around, and wisdom and brotherly love will distribute it. Prayerful decisions will stimulate our own rightful spending, including investing, and make us part of the solution to worldwide economic problems.
Once, when I told a friend that I didn't know how to thank him, he rejoined jokingly, "Since money was invented, there has always been a way to say 'thank you.' " Might boosting the economy, even in a small way, by prayerful spending, be a way to say "Thank you" to the Giver of all good? Money really is for using.