When markets become volatile or we lose a job or lose business revenue unexpectedly, the human response is to allow fear to overtake us. Multiple questions begin to plague our minds such as, “How will I pay my bills or make payroll?", “Will this ever turn around?”, and “How will I reach my retirement or other financial goals?” Additionally, our well-meaning friends and loved ones begin to ask us “So, what are you going to do?”….repeatedly!
So, how should we respond? In this blog, Melody Gray Block, Certified Financial Planner and MBA, shares how we can turn to biblical scripture for our questions about financial uncertainty.
How should we respond?
Sometimes, the pressure to do something - anything can begin to overwhelm us and it often creates increased anxiety and stress. We need to be careful to not make emotional decisions which could potentially lead to worse financial conditions. Emotional reactions can even cause us to start pointing fingers at loved ones which is not beneficial or productive.
First, we should remember that it is not the events or situations that occur in our life that makes the difference in how we progress, rather it is how we respond to those events. Instead of allowing fear to lead to panic which leads to hysteria, we should pause and remember God is Sovereign and in Control! Whatever the situation or circumstance, it did not take our Heavenly Father by surprise. That being said, here are five ways that we, as believers, can respond during times of financial uncertainty!
1. The best way to combat fear is to know His love for you (John 3:16), use your shield of faith to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16), and mediate on His truth daily (Joshua 1:8).
Remind yourself that our Heavenly Father is on the throne, remind yourself of His promises in His word, and remind yourself of His unconditional love, goodness, and mercy that He has for you (Psalm 23:6). Find those verses that resonate for you and repeat them over and over, meditate on them, and ask the Lord to give you His wisdom as He gives it freely to you (James 1:5).
2. Know that God is the owner of all things (Psalm 24:1) and we are called to be faithful stewards (1 Corinthians 4:2; Luke 16:11-12).
Thus, we can rest knowing that He is in control and owns all things. As faithful stewards, our focus should be to seek to understand Biblical Financial Principles to faithfully manage the resources He entrusts to us. We should be open to His wisdom and sensitive to how He directs us so we can find ourselves prudent in all financial affairs.
3. Place your hope only on our Lord Jesus Christ!
We should remind ourselves that He is our provider (Matthew 6:26-33; Acts 14:17; Philippians 4:19). He is our true source. Our source is not a company, customer, market, bank account balance, investment portfolio balance, or income check. Jehovah Jireh is our true provider (Genesis 22:13-14). Rest in Him knowing that He is your source; He cares for you; and He loves you.
4. Learn to be content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13).
Paul set a great example for us as he learned to be content in all circumstances. Whether we abase or abound, we can trust our Heavenly Father to provide for us as we continually seek Him and listen for His voice daily.
5. During times of uncertainty, be encouraged as we gain an opportunity to learn to Trust God more!
Remind ourselves of the promises He has given us as children of the Most High God! He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut. 31:6); do not be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6); and cast our cares on Him who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). As we continue to be strong and courageous and continue to recognize God as our provider and protector in our lives, we begin to enjoy His peace as we rest in the shadow of the Almighty and seek His face.
What can we do?
We should start or continue to practice Biblical financial principles and habits in our lives. The Bible has over 2,300 verses on money and possessions which teaches us timeless financial wisdom we can apply to our lives no matter the current economic environment. Here are five key financial principles we can continue practicing today:
1. Spend less than you earn (Proverbs 21:20).
It is easier said than done, but in times of turmoil, you may need to triage your spending and scale back on variable expenses. First, focus on meeting your most important needs such as tithing, a place to stay, electricity, and food for yourself and family. Second, you should prioritize maintaining all debts and other items to the best of your ability. Lastly, we should limit or minimize spending on non-essential items such as eating out or other casual spending. Instead, find creative ways to entertain and feed your family. Ask the Lord to give you His wisdom on what you can do in your situation.
2. Avoid the use of debt (Proverbs 22:7).
During uncertain times, it is best not to take on increased debt unnecessarily. Each time you take on debt you mortgage your future and in turn increase your monthly or annual obligations. By limiting the use of debt, you can ensure you can maintain your expenses even with a lower monthly cash flow and give yourself the best possible chance to more quickly recover when increased cash flow or increased income returns.
3. Maintain some liquidity (Proverbs 6:6-11).
In other words, be able to gain access to cash when it is needed. During periods of uncertainty, anxiety begins to build when there is limited access to additional cash if needed. Focus on building cash reserves to increase your financial margin which will assist in keeping anxiety at bay. A good time to build liquidity is when there is a surplus in your cash flow. If you are at a point of financial uncertainty with limited cash, then find ways you could raise cash such as a second job or selling unwanted or no longer needed items in your home.
4. Set Long-term goals (Luke 14:28; Proverbs 20:18).
It is important to keep a long-term perspective. Be cautious about making short-term decisions which will ease your anxiety today but cause greater harm in reaching your longer-term goals. If the circumstance you face could be considered a short-term scenario, then it is important to consider the best decision today without sacrificing your future goals. It would be advisable to monitor your anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7), seek wise counsel (Proverbs 19:20-21), and diversify your assets (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2).
5. Give generously (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
Too often in a time of financial uncertainty, most individuals believe it is prudent to limit or decide to stop giving to their local church. My encouragement is to continue to tithe and give offerings even in times of distress. Giving is the single best antidote to greed when times are good and demonstrates your Trust in the Lord to provide for you in times of distress (Malachi 3:10). Do this and watch your relationship with the Lord grow closer and closer!
In my 20+ years in the financial services industry, I have developed my own definition of Financial Freedom.
"Financial Freedom is when a believer recognizes that God owns it all and learns to successfully implement Biblical Financial principles to steward the resources entrusted to them with an open hand as God directs" (Psalm 24:1; Proverbs 27:23).
Allow this time to build your relationship with God in new ways which you have not yet experienced before as you learn to Trust Him more and more in every circumstance you face.
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