The current cost of living crisis, fueled by high inflation and energy prices, is having a significant impact on societies around the world. The rising costs of essential goods and services such as food, housing, and energy are making it increasingly difficult for many families and individuals to make ends meet, leading to financial stress, anxiety, and in some cases, despair.
This crisis is also affecting people’s faith in Christianity. For many Christians, the teachings of the Bible encourage them to live lives of generosity, hospitality, and compassion towards others. However, when faced with financial difficulties, it can be challenging to maintain this commitment to generosity and hospitality.
Furthermore, the cost of living crisis can also cause people to question their beliefs about God’s provision and care. As Christians, we believe that God is a loving and compassionate God who provides for our needs. However, when faced with financial difficulties, it can be easy to feel abandoned or forgotten by God, leading to doubts and questions about our faith.
Despite these challenges, there are also opportunities for Christians to grow in faith and compassion during a cost-of-living crisis. By turning to the Bible for guidance and support, seeking the fellowship and support of their church community, and actively seeking ways to serve and give to others, Christians can demonstrate their faith and commitment to God’s call to love and serve others, even in the face of financial difficulties.
One of the ways in which the cost of living crisis is affecting society is by increasing the demand for support services such as food banks. As people struggle to afford essential items like food and groceries, more and more individuals and families are turning to these services for assistance.
This increase in demand is placing a strain on many food banks and other support organisations, which are often staffed by volunteers and rely on donations to operate. However, despite these challenges, many Christians and church communities are stepping up to support these organisations and help those in need.
For example, some churches are partnering with local food banks and other support organizations to provide financial and volunteer support, as well as hosting their own food drives and donation programs. Others are opening up their buildings as shelters for those experiencing homelessness or extreme weather conditions or providing a warm space during the cold winter months for those unable to afford heating costs. Still, others are offering financial assistance or providing basic needs like clothing and hygiene items to those who are struggling to make ends meet.
Through these acts of kindness and generosity, Christians can demonstrate the love and compassion of Christ to those around them. Moreover, they can help to alleviate the financial stress and hardship that many individuals and families are experiencing due to the cost of living crisis.
Not everyone is in a position to offer financial assistance or to open their buildings as shelters to those in need. In fact, many individuals and families may be struggling to make ends meet themselves due to the cost of living crisis.
Some Christians may struggle with feelings of guilt and shame if they are unable to give as much as they would like, or if they need to rely on support from others, such as food banks or government assistance.
It is important to remember that receiving help from others in times of need is not a sign of weakness or failure and receiving help from others is not a reflection of their worth or their faith, but rather an opportunity for others to extend grace and love in a time of need; in fact, it can be an act of faith in God’s provision and care for us and deepen our trust in Him.
However, there are still ways in which Christians can help to make a difference, even if they are not able to offer financial or material assistance. For example, simply offering a listening ear or a word of encouragement to someone who is struggling can make a significant impact. Taking the time to check in on friends, family members, and neighbours can help to combat feelings of isolation and despair that may arise during times of financial stress.
Additionally, Christians can pray for those who are struggling and for the organisations and volunteers who are working to provide support and assistance. Prayer can be a powerful tool for bringing comfort and peace, and for helping us to maintain our faith and trust in God’s provision and care.
As Christians, we are called to trust in God’s provision and care for us, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
It’s important to remember that our value and worth are not determined by our financial status or possessions. As Christians, we are children of God and heirs to his kingdom, which is not of this world. Therefore, our ultimate hope and security should come from our relationship with God, not from material things.
We can turn to the Bible for guidance and comfort during a cost-of-living crisis. The Bible is full of stories of people who faced financial difficulties but were sustained by God’s provision and faithfulness. For example, in the book of Exodus, God provided manna for the Israelites to eat during their journey in the wilderness. In the New Testament, Jesus fed the 5,000 with just five loaves of bread and two fish.
In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul describes how the believers in Macedonia, despite being in “extreme poverty,” eagerly and generously gave to support the church in Jerusalem. This is a powerful example of how our financial circumstances do not have to determine our ability to give and serve others.
We can also look at the widow in Mark 12:41-44, who gave all that she had – two small coins – to the temple treasury. Jesus notes that this act of generosity is more significant than the large sums given by the wealthy, as the widow gave all that she had out of her poverty.
Another example is found in the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. In this story, a man is beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. While several individuals pass by without helping, a Samaritan – someone who would have been seen as an outsider or enemy by the Jewish people – stops to help the man, bandaging his wounds and taking him to an inn to recover. The Samaritan’s actions demonstrate a selfless willingness to help someone in need, regardless of their background or circumstances.
Additionally, the apostle Peter encourages Christians to “use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). This verse reminds us that we all have unique gifts and abilities that we can use to serve others and show the love of Christ.
These examples remind us that our financial circumstances do not have to determine our ability to give and serve and that we all have unique gifts and abilities that we can use to make a difference in the lives of those around us.
Furthermore, when we give to others in need, we are participating in God’s work of love and redemption in the world. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 8:14, “At the present time your plenty will supply what they need so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality.” When we give to those in need, we are participating in a cycle of generosity and provision that reflects God’s heart for justice and equality.
As Christians, we are called not only to give generously but also to give cheerfully. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul writes, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” This means that our giving should not be driven by guilt, obligation, or a desire for recognition, but rather by a genuine desire to bless others and honour God.
Being a cheerful giver is not always easy, especially during a time of financial hardship. We may be tempted to hold onto our resources tightly, fearing that we won’t have enough for ourselves and our families. However, when we trust in God’s provision and give with a joyful heart, we can experience a sense of freedom and abundance that transcends our circumstances.
Furthermore, when we give cheerfully, we inspire and encourage others to do the same. Our generosity can have a ripple effect, spreading joy and hope throughout our communities and beyond. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:12, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”
Therefore, even during a cost-of-living crisis, we can still find ways to give and serve others, whether through financial contributions, volunteer work, or acts of kindness and compassion. By doing so, we can honour God’s call to love and serve others, and experience the joy and fulfilment that comes from living a life of generosity and compassion.
I want to leave you with one more thought. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus tells us that when we help those in need, we’re actually helping Him. He says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40).
Here are some points for you to think about…
- How have you personally been impacted by the current cost of living crisis? Have you had to make any sacrifices or changes in your lifestyle as a result?
- What are some ways that individuals and communities can support those who are struggling financially or experiencing homelessness during this time? Are there any local organizations or initiatives that you are aware of?
- How can Christians reconcile the call to give generously with the need to be financially responsible and take care of their own families? Are there any biblical examples or principles that can guide us in finding a balance?
- The passage in 2 Corinthians 8 emphasizes the importance of equality and sharing resources so that everyone’s needs are met. How can we work towards creating a more just and equitable society, especially during a time of economic hardship?
- Giving and serving others can be rewarding and fulfilling, but it can also be challenging and uncomfortable at times. How can we overcome our own fears or biases and step out of our comfort zones to help those in need?
- What are some practical steps that we can take to live a life of generosity and compassion, even in the midst of financial difficulties? How can we cultivate a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity, and trust that God will provide for our needs as we give to others?