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Dealing with the Economic Crisis (Part 1 of 3)

What does the Bible say about Finances? Can it help with my Bank Account?

With headlines and news anchors constantly talking about the financial crisis, it’s natural to be concerned even if your job or home has not been affected. (1) Should you be worried? (2) What if you are already in trouble, what can you do? Fortunately for us, this problem is not new; in fact the Bible talks quite a bit about the subject.

An Example Of A Person In Financial Distress

Consider the widow who was in danger of losing her sons to creditors. She is in need due to no fault of her own. Her husband has died so her income was obviously reduced if not cut off.

[1] A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.”
[2] So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.”
[3] Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. [4] And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.”
[5] So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. [6] Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.”
And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased. [7] Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.” (II Kings 4:1-7)

What do we see in this story? 1) A person in need must have faith in God before seeking His help. We see this when the widow came to the prophet. 2) A person in need must have faith to obey God. We see this when the widow follows the prophet’s instructions, even though they did not make sense. 3) God provides for those who trust and obey. We see this in the miracle of the oil.

God Provides In “Natural” Ways

This is an ancient example of God providing in a miraculous way, and if you search, you can probably find such examples in our time. But keep in mind, God provides for us in “natural” ways everyday. Who gave you the mental capacity to get a job? Who gave you health to go to work for years? Who let you live in a country where you could choose your occupation? These are simple examples of how God provides for everyone, those who worship Him and those who do not.

Further, God has given rules, guidelines, and principles to His followers to take care of not just everyday needs, but unexpected needs. Sadly, many people go along with popular thinking instead of following God’s instructions--this is always a recipe for disaster. Why? God is smarter than all human wisdom and His instructions always have today and tomorrow in mind. Human wisdom only focuses on today and forgets that tomorrow has dangers and consequences, which may be hidden.

Three Simple Principles

For example, the Bible warns us of the dangers of borrowing money. “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7) Do you like being a servant? It also reminds us that if you have no debt, your property can not be repossessed. “Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, One of those who is surety for debts; If you have nothing with which to pay, Why should he take away your bed from under you?” (Prov 22:26-27) Yet popular culture says, don’t wait until you can pay, buy on credit and enjoy now.

Another example instructs us of the consequences of greed. “He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, But he who hates bribes will live.” (Prov 15:27) Unhealthy desires for things will only lead to trouble. Also, just trying to get more and more will leave you with an unsatisfied life, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10) If we learn to be content with having our needs met, we can enjoy a higher quality of life without trouble. “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure with trouble.” (Prov 15:16) and “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” (Hebrews 13:5). If you learn to be content, you will not squander your money on frivolous things or trying to impress people.

If you apply the first two principles to your life to avoid trouble, then a third will help you plan for the unexpected. “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished.” (Prov 22:3) This tells us to look ahead and be prepared for the “rainy day”. If you are not wasting money, you can buy insurance. If you are not living beyond your means, your financial foundation will not be swept away by economic storms.

Next time, we’ll see if the Bible has guidelines for people already in the middle of a financial storm. In the meantime, challenge yourself to put these principles from the Bible into practice in your life.

For more information on Bible principles for money management, visit www.crown.org

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