For those interested in the economy, "consumer confidence" is closely followed. If consumers are optimistic about the economy, they tend to purchase more frequently, in greater quantities, and at higher prices.
In contrast, if consumers do not have confidence or are anxious about the economy, they tend to spend less, save more, and purchase fewer luxuries. Total consumption expenditures can be 65-70 percent of the entire output of an economy.
Last week, the Conference Board released its July Consumer Confidence Index (CCI). The July Index was reported to be 90.9. Analysts were expecting it to be 99.5 with forecasts ranging from 96 to 102. The report was much worst than both the average estimate and the lowest projection of any reported analyst. Ouch. The markets were concerned.
Consumer confidence can be fact, fear, or fantasy based. It can be fickle. Reported consumer confidence can sometimes be a poor predictor of purchases. For example, a consumer may think they are going to lose their job (low confidence), so they decide to buy a new car now while they still qualify for credit (consumers sometimes make unwise decisions).
But generally, behavior follows confidence. If people have more confidence in the economy, their employer, or their political leader, they tend to purchase more. If they have less confidence, they tend to buy less.
For those in the Kingdom, confidence is an important concept. Where is our confidence? In whom do we have our confidence? In what does our confidence reside? How did we arrive at the confidence we have? Is our confidence Biblically based or on less solid ground? If our confidence is misplaced, how do we change it? If our confidence is based on the Word of God, do our actions match our words?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had confidence in the Lord's power to deliver them from the fiery furnace, but trusted His wisdom and goodness if He did not. They had decided to worship and obey the Lord because of the confidence they had in Him. They were saved from a fiery furnace and saw the King of the most powerful nation in the world acknowledge God (Daniel 3).
When David faced Goliath, he had confidence in the name of the Lord of Hosts, his skills as a shepherd, and and in his ultimate victory. He was triumphant. Israel won a great military victory and placed David in a position where he could later be king (Samuel 17).
Gideon had confidence that with the Lord his army of 300 men could defeat an army of 135,000 professional soldiers. He was victorious and Israel enjoyed 40 years of peace (Judges 6-7).
We have the same promises today. Jesus has already won all of the battles. All authority has been given Him. We have been given the right to use His Name, the promises of the Word of God, and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
"Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, then we have confidence before God. And whatever we ask, we will receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:21-22).
"Let us then come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16).
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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