John Piper on the economic stimulus payments….

John Piper is a pastor in Minnesota (growing up, I just thought he was a household name, but I’ve mentioned his name to a lot of people who have responded with, “who?”…but that’s beside the point).  Anyways, with the recent arrival of our rather large “economic stimulus payment” aka the “let’s do everything we can to make sure America remains the most consumer-oriented society in the world” plan, K and I have been trying to figure out what we should do with it. 

I want a new bike.  We both want some new camping gear.  But we don’t really need that stuff, and I don’t really want to stimulate the economy with this money. 

So we’re not going to get that stuff, and we’re not going to stimulate the economy with that money. 

Anyways, I came across John Piper’s thoughts on the matter, and thought they were worthy of a post.

For a moment, forget the political puzzle of getting money back when the country is nine trillion dollars in debt. The more immediate question is: How will you make much of Christ with your “economic stimulus payment”? The president says it will be in the mail in time for Cinco de Mayo.

Clue: Nobody in the world will see you spend your money on yourself and conclude that Christ is your treasure. They will assume you are just like them, no matter how loudly you thank God for this boon. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend it on yourself (the way we do with most of what we earn). Not everything we do can look different from the world—eat, pay utilities, fill up the car, wear clothes (even thrift-store clothes). And yes, we hope (somehow) that spending on ourselves in some way contributes to our being more Christ-exalting people.

But do we really need this money? Very few do. We would have gotten on fine without it. If we didn’t know it was coming, we wouldn’t even be feeling the desires we are feeling right now.

May I encourage you to be radically creative and hedonistic. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). And those crazy Macedonians in a “severe test of affliction” and in “extreme poverty” had an “abundance of joy” that overflowed in a “wealth of generosity.” They even begged Paul “for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:2-4). They really believed what Jesus said. Really.

Before the check comes dream of some person or ministry which might make much of Christ because you treasured him above your next home project.

The reason God created money and enabled us to earn it is so that we could show by the way we use it that money is not our treasure, Christ is. That’s why the checks are coming. So we can make Christ look great.

“Be content with what you have, for he has said,
‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).


4 thoughts on “John Piper on the economic stimulus payments….

  1. Good thoughts. I still don’t trust that it’s “free” money… We plan to just put it in our tax savings in case the IRS comes back around and wants part of it back next year. But maybe that’s the skeptic in me. 🙂


  2. Grete, yeah, I’ve read some conflicting reports. The IRS website says that it is not-taxed and will not reduce or affect your 2008 taxes. But I hear the skepticism 😉

    Leticia, thanks for posting the link from marketplace – it was a good perspective. Hope that studies at UW are going well!


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