Prudent versus Populist Measures

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat gave his speech regarding Budget 2018. One of the goodies is that Singaporeans aged 21 and above this year will get a one-off bonus of up to $300 each. A highlight of his speech is also the announcement that GST will be increased from the present 7% to 9% sometime between 2021 to 2025. An economist had this to say about the present government:

No politician wants hike taxes. So it’s also a message from the Government it doesn’t engage in populist measures, but it takes fiscal responsibility seriously.

Some may think this is not the best move from a financial view point. The fact remains, however, that our government cares, even though it risks bringing down its percentage of votes during election.

Dear Christians and friends, the Bible sometimes also says things that are not popular but are highly beneficial for and important to us. Even the Chinese understand this principle: “Good medicine is bitter.” With regards to this principle, you need to understand two things.

First, you must understand that the human nature in us does not like the principle: hard work first; benefits later. We would prefer the principle: benefits now; benefits later, that is, no hard work is required. We need to change this harmful mindset. Listen to the advice from God’s Word: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Prov. 27:6). Beware of people who never tell you the truth even when you are wrong—they are enemies of your soul. The converse is true: a friend may sometimes need to tell you things that are unpleasant. In fact, people will dislike you if you give such advice: “Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you” (Prov 9:8).

When God’s Word warns you or instructs you about something, do not resist it because it will bring you eternal benefits (Prov 3:7-8):

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.

Sometimes church leaders, friends, or your loved ones may tell you some things that you do not like to hear. Your first reaction sometimes is to defend yourself, or even to fight back by attacking the other person: “You are not better. The last time, you also did this or that.” But of course, if the advice given contradicts God’s Word or you indeed are not guilty of wrongdoing, gently clarify, as what Aaron did when his (Aaron’s) sons were misunderstood by Moses (Lev 10:16-20). Maintain peace.

But if what is said is applicable to you, you must quickly put away your initial displeasure. I say this because it is a natural reaction (such a reaction may not be wrong in itself). Seek clarification to understand what the precise issue is. Then, if you are indeed at fault, accept the rebuke, and be grateful to that person. That person loves you enough to tell you the truth. It takes him or her courage to do that because it is an unpleasant responsibility. Let us heed God’s Word even when it is unpleasant. It will bring you eternal good.