One of my favorite biblical characters is Joseph (His story is told in Genesis 37-50). If you grew up in Sunday school, then you know that as a very young man he was sold into slavery by his brothers who were filled with jealousy because Joseph was their father’s obvious favorite. Joseph ultimately wound up in Egypt, the slave of Potiphar, who had such confidence in him he put him in charge of everything he owned. While in this position, Joseph was sexually propositioned by Mrs. Potiphar, who falsely accused him of rape when he emphatically told her “no.” As a result Joseph wound up in prison where he developed a reputation as an interpreter of dreams. When this talent (gift from God) came to Pharaoh’s attention, he called on Joseph to explain two very disturbing dreams. After listening to Pharaoh’s account of the dreams, Joseph interpreted them by saying Egypt was headed for seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. That was the economic forecast of the day. Joseph then recommended a plan for storing food during the good years so Egypt could survive the bad ones. Pharaoh liked the suggestion, so he made Joseph his Chief Operating Officer and gave him the authority to make it happen—which is exactly what Joseph did.
There is a lot we can learn from Joseph when it comes to the reality of our current economic forecast. I, like all of you, grow concerned when I hear and read the negative economic forecasts that dominate our news. At the same time, all of us, like Joseph, need to understand and embrace a common sense approach to the future. In his book, Surviving Financial Meltdown, Ron Blue identifies that like this:
1.) Take a financial physical. The beginning point to a proactive approach toward money management will always be determining the actual state of your finances (something most people aren’t realistic about).
2.) Establish a finish line. Decide where you want to go (Set some goals). What’s important to you when it comes to your finances?
3.) Plan how to get from here to there.
This is basically what Joseph did when he was given the responsibility of preparing Egypt for the seven years of famine that would follow the seven years of plenty. And, if you know the story, you know that Joseph was quite successful. The best thing about this kind of plan is that it’s not “rocket science.” It’s just common sense.
One more thing, that famine in Joseph’s day spread beyond Egypt. As a result, people came to Egypt from all over the world to buy food (Genesis 41:57). That meant that Joseph was able to be a witness to the rest of the world about the power of common sense and stewardship.
That same opportunity is available to each of us today. Will you be like Joseph or will you be like the rest of the world? God’s will is for each of us to practice good stewardship in our lives so that we can live without fear and anxiety. And in times like these, that kind of life provides a powerful witness.
P.S. Don’t forget that during tough economic times, the number one commitment we need as believers is a commitment to giving. When we give we acknowledge that God has first place in our lives and that we trust Him to provide for all of our needs. This kind of commitment brings blessing and peace. This may not make sense by the world’s standards, but I’ll take God’s standards any day.