Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Economic Parables -- Post 3

This is the final day we are looking at Economic Parables by David Cowan.

It is a little more difficult to summarize the key principles of money management from this book since each chapter is diving deep to understand Jesus's perspective on finances. The chapters double as a Bible study tool.

Let's look at one chapter in more detail. Chapter 14, How Much Do We Need To Live On, focuses on the parable of the lost coin from Luke 15:8-10. In two short verses, Jesus provides an important story for managing our finances. This is the parable of a woman who has ten coins and loses one. She desperately searches her home until she finds it, then she calls all her friends and neighbors together to celebrate.

Cowan mentions the absurdity of this parable in context of losing a penny, or even a dollar coin. However, he explains, in Bible days this silver coin was the equivalent of a day's wages. The value of money depends on how much we have in the first place. What if you lost 10% of your entire savings (and how many of us have actually lost that much of our retirement funds in the recent market downturns)?

So often we look at the wonderful things others own and get discouraged by what seemingly little we have. Yet if we compare our lives to the approximately one billion people who live on less than one dollar per day, we are rich beyond belief. How much do we actually need to live? And what should we do with the rest of our money?

This chapter takes a turn to look at poverty and our individual and collective responsibilities. Cowan states that "it seems that we wantt eh economy to do that which we personally do not want to do: to serve or be charitable." In essence, we spend to the max (or beyond) of our ability on ourselves, with little thought to the family across town who can't afford to turn the heat on. Do we have a responsibility to manage 'our' money in a way that impacts them?

This book is written for those who want to relate Jesus's teachings to our current world economic system...a much more difficult task that relating these teachings just to our own stewardship. It is full of complex concepts and thoughts that may seems simplistic at first read, but cause you to really think about our way of life for a long time after you put the book down.

This is not a book to help you get through the current difficult time in our financial world, but to help you understand how to approach big picture financial concepts in a Biblical way. In doing so, you may decide that your personal approach to finances can be revised to be more Biblical, too.

You can purchase this book at Amazon if you are interested in a challenging read!

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