So recently my wife and I were made to take part in a financial responsibility class. I only say “made” because I was extremely reluctant to take this class at first and this was something that I and my colleagues were doing for professional development. Not because I think my wife and I make poor financial decisions, it was just I knew that the class was very long and I for one don’t find finances to be the most fascinating subject. However, I have come to see that the world of finance and economics are a much greater ethical dilemma than I ever thought at first. Even last night my wife and I watched a documentary entitled Maxed Out about the United States addiction to debt and we both realized something. The credit industry has become a form of modern day slavery. Essentially you have financial institutions who have enslaved millions of people because they don’t have the learning to say no to savvy financial schemes or the discipline to wait for the things they want.
I say discipline because I recently looked at the etymology of the word and I think it fits so well here. Discipline is taken from the root meaning”order necessary for instruction”. Learning is the take-away of discipline. And learning needs to take place in an ordered environment of sorts. Now think with me for a moment. Do we provide the environment and opportunities to discipline people regarding finances and credit or do we simply allow people to continue to voluntarily sign their lives away into slavery?
I am going to be really honest for a moment. I am not a very disciplined person. I would say to anybody that I love to learn and I love to grow, but I don’t always like to do the hard things for this to happen. And I think a lack of disicipline can be blamed for a lot of my short-comings in life. The apostle Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” Discipline is making your body/mind slave before it unwittingly becomes a slave.If I do not discipline myself to learn and grow in the ways that I know are excellent and Christ-like, I might as well be giving my mind and body license to become a slave to the contrary.
I think about all of the people who have become a slave to the banking, mortgage and credit industries. Much of this comes from being undisciplined. We want and therefore we take regardless of the outcomes. But I don’t want to ultimately place the blame on those who are “slaves”. They really didn’t know any better. And I feel like we have to go back to the root word of discipline: disciple. You see the art of discipline is an art that is ultimately learned…passed down. Poor financial responsibility is inherited when people are raised up ignorant of what they may be stepping into.
So now the question becomes…are we creating more slaves? Where does our responsibility begin? And you can take this into the kingdom discussion just as easily. Are we living out a life of spiritual discipline that will create more disciples or are we simply being sloppy and allowing people to become slaves to their own broken and fallen nature? I for one have to find a way to discipline my body and mind like a slave so I don’t find myself being a slave to depravity…so that those that follow don’t find themselves slaves to depravity…
God is a God with a heart for the oppressed (Exodus 3). May our heart bet in tune with His!