DayBreaks for 4/10/19: Loaded with Toxic Assets
From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:
I am not an economist – nor do I want to be. Frankly, studying money and economies has always seemed like a huge waste of time given the fact that it’s all going to be burned up in the end and no one can take any worldly assets to the next world.
Still, economic crises bring new economic terms and phrases into the headlines and our awareness, not the least of which is this one: toxic assets. While I don’t really understand it all too well, my take is that toxic assets are largely responsible for the trouble that banks are facing right now. These toxic assets are loans, and it works like this: People owe the banks money. Normally, banks like this. Theywant people to owe them money and pay them interest because that’s how banks make a profit. But with the economy in its present condition, especially with the mortgage foreclosure crisis, many of the loans which should have been “assets” to the bank have actually become liabilities because the houses that secured the loans are now worth less than the amount of the loan itself. So, a home that was purchased for $250,000 may now only be worth $150,000 – meaning that the bank has essentially lost $100,000 on the deal (not counting the interest they’d have made if the economy had held strong.) So, instead of having several hundred thousands of dollars out of the loan in interest, the bank takes back the property after they’ve loaned out $250,000 – but the property is only worth $150,000 if they were to sell it! This is a toxic asset, as I understand it.
And I know this much about accounting: when an asset hurts the bottom line of the financial statement, it is no longer an asset, but a liability – a loss or debt. And loss and debt are toxic to business.
I think we can make a spiritual application here: assets are not just a banking phenomenon. There can be toxic spiritual assets, too. Anything we think is helpful to us in a spiritual way as individuals, but that actually is hurting us spiritually is a toxic asset.
The New Testament writers gave us lists of sins of the flesh. We may think we aren’t doing the things listed, but in our modern world new and easier ways to sin have become very common. The advent of computers and the Internet made lust much more easy (and seemingly more “innocent”), illegal drugs are everywhere, obesity is epidemic – these are all toxic assets. People engage in these and other pleasures because they think that somehow, they will benefit us, not hurt us. But the opposite is true.
Nearly anything can be a toxic asset, including homes, cars, IRA’s, 401K’s, boats, partying, etc., when they take over your life and push God into the shadows. Even something as seemingly innocent as a job can be a toxic asset. Money, education, family and friends, physical beauty – all these things can be great assets up unto the point where one allows them to take God’s place in their life, and start to live for them or trust in them. Then, they have become toxic assets.
Does this sound a lot like idolatry? It is. But most of us think we aren’t idolaters. We have an image in our mind of a statue of some kind when we speak of idols. That’s just what Satan wants us to think about when we think of idolatry. He knows most of us aren’t going to fall for that one. But an idol is nothing more or less than a toxic asset, and toxic assets are spiritual things that we think will help us but which are really just idols.
Banks are trying desperately to shed their financial toxic assets. We would do well to work even harder at getting the toxic assets out of our own lives.
Prayer: Jesus, help us learn that not all that appears to be beneficial or which promises us pleasure or escape is good. Give us new hearts and minds to understand how toxic our sin and dalliances are to our spirits. Renew a clean heart within us, free from toxic things, a heart that longs for that which is pure and holy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>