This past week in a surprise move on the evening of Tuesday, Nov 8, the Indian government announced that the 500 and 1000 rupee notes (worth about $7.50 and $15, respectively) would no longer legal tender after midnight that night. These were the two highest notes in Indian currency. This move rendered at least 80% of the money in circulation no longer valid.
The public has until Dec. 30 to deposit the old notes into bank accounts. One can also exchange them (up to a max of 4000 per day – about $60) for the new 500 and 2000 rupee bills. The purpose of this action was render counterfeit 500 and 1000 notes worthless overnight and force those who have undeclared (i.e. untaxed) stockpiles of cash to deposit them and be taxed on them.
part of the long line at a local ATM
Indian society runs mainly on cash. This demonetization has resulted in long lines at banks and ATMs, as people try to get in to deposit and exchange money or get money from ATMs. In a nation of almost 1.3 billion, there are only about 200,000 ATMs, at least half of which are still not working, because they have not been reprogrammed to dispense the new 2000 rupee notes or with the
20002500*/day limit (about $38). The ATMs that are working quickly run out of cash. This has left most people without any usable money which means they cannot buy food or even bus tickets. This has resulted in anger, scuffles, and even a couple of deaths. You can read about the situation here, here, and this one has some good pictures.
This has created problems here for our brothers and sisters as well. For example, pastors are left with no money to buy transportation so they have been unable to come to monthly training meetings, or even food from the local market.
Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will eat or drink because our heavenly Father knows that we need these things and will provide for us (Matthew 6:23-32). Jesus tells us:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 ESV)
We often chase after the things of this world, as that is our day-to-day life. Putting Jesus’ words into practice is difficult when one’s cupboard and pocketbook is bare, but remember God has provided something far more important than earthly food: He has given us free forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with Him through Jesus’ death and resurrection. He gives us free access to His kingdom by giving us His perfect righteousness in the place of our sinfulness.
We are poor before God. We have nothing with which to buy the forgiveness of our sins. We have nothing to offer God. But Jesus has taken care of that!
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV)
We are now rich toward God with the perfect obedience and righteousness of Jesus that is credited (deposited) in our account. Because God has given us His own Son, we can be confident He will give us everything else we need in this life:
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32 ESV)
So God calls us to believe and receive this salvation He has given us in Jesus for free:
Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. (Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV)
* On Nov. 14 the ATM withdrawal limit was raised from 2000 to 2500 rupees per day.