As we look back on the last ten years, one thing that seems to be consistent in our world is some level of economic uncertainty. Just consider the following:
2000 – Tech bubble bursts in March 2000
2001 – Terrorist attack of 9/11
2002 – Enron, Arthur Andersen, Tyco, Qwest, Global Crossing, ImClone, and Adelphia – hiding debt and misrepresenting earnings
2003 – War waged by the U.S. and Britain against Iraq begins; North Korea withdraws from the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons
2004 – Spain rocked by terrorist attacks; UN Atomic Energy Agency tells Iran to stop enriching uranium.
2005 – Hurricane Katrina; Rising interest rates
2006 – Political corruption scandals; Interest rates rise; Housing markets begin to slump.
2007 - Housing markets meltdown.
2008 – Credit crisis hits the financial sector.
The truth is you can go even further back in time and find some event or threat that has created uncertainty in the economy. The question isn’t, “Will there be economic uncertainty?” The question is “How will we handle economic uncertainty when it comes?” There’s no better resource than God’s Word when it comes to answering this question. Here are some biblical instructions that will never let you down:
- Keep Track
Proverbs 13:16 says, Every prudent man acts out of knowledge but a fool exposes his folly. (NIV) The first step to handling economic uncertainty is to know your own economic condition. Ron Blue, founder of Ron Blue and Company (a firm that provides financial services from a Christian perspective), says that every person or family should take a financial physical. This involves answering four questions: What do I have? What do I owe? How much am I spending? How strong are my safety nets (insurance/savings accounts/etc.)? Once you do that, you simply need to begin to keep track of your finances.
- Plan Ahead
This means making a budget (Call it a “spending plan” if you hate the word budget). Rick Warren says, “A budget is telling your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where it went.” Proverbs 21:5 says The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. (NIV) A budget is critical to personal economic health because financial freedom is not based on how much you make. It’s based on how much you spend.
- Save Consistently
Proverbs 13:11 says Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers little by little makes it grow. (NIV) The Bible says that it is a mark of wisdom to save for the future. Proverbs 21:20 says, In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. (NIV) American Demographics magazine shows that the majority of baby boomers (those born between 1946-1964) will be broke at retirement age. What’s the problem? The problem is materialism funded by debt. I know that in our current economy, many people are showing more of a willingness to save, but materialism has already done its damage. And if we were completely honest, we’d have to admit that we got into debt before the economy began to struggle. When times are good, we buy, and then we pay for it by signing away our future. When times are bad, we struggle. Proverbs 22:7 says, The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (NIV) When debt keeps us from being good stewards (saving – giving - etc.), then debt is a big problem.
- Give Habitually
Proverbs 3:9-10 says, Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (NIV) Giving is an act of gratitude. When we give, we acknowledge that everything comes from God. Giving is an act of priority in the present. When we give, we demonstrate that God has first place in our lives. Giving is a statement of faith. When we give, we put ourselves in a position to allow God to fulfill His promise of blessing in whatever way He chooses to bring that blessing.
Economic uncertainty won’t steal your happiness and peace if you live prepared. In the end, it’s just a matter of obeying God’s Word.