From Stress to Success - Part 2

Richard F. Ames

Many of us face financial stress. We may be thousands of dollars in debt on our credit cards. At the same time, we know the American dollar is losing its value against the euro and other currencies.

For years, the United States was a creditor nation, but it has now become the world's greatest debtor nation. Why? Because it has not lived within its means! God's way of life teaches individuals to budget their finances and to monitor their lifestyle as faithful stewards of their blessings. The parable of the minas in Luke 19 (also found in Matthew 25 as the parable of the talents) teaches us to be responsible and accountable. Jesus commended the servant who wisely managed his finances. "Then came the first, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned ten minas.' And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.' And the second came, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned five minas.' Likewise he said to him, 'You also be over five cities'" (Luke 19:16–19).

Notice that the one servant was "faithful in a very little." Have you been faithful in a very little? Are you striving to live within your means? The Bible teaches the principle of budgeting through tithing. A tithe, in Bible language, means a tenth. Notice God's indictment of those nations and peoples who do not recognize His sovereignty over all that exists: "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation" (Malachi 3:8–9).

We will face God's judgments, individually and nationally, unless we begin to acknowledge the Ten Commandments and strive to live by them. God continues: "'Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,' says the Lord of hosts, 'If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it'"(v. 10).

Faithful Christians who tithe have experienced for themselves these awesome blessings. Greed, by contrast, leads to one's downfall. Ancient King Solomon warned: "Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven" (Proverbs 23:4–5).

On March 10, 2000, the NASDAQ reached its all-time peak of 5,049. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was riding high, reflecting a "bull" market. Technology stocks had been climbing in price for years, and investors were enjoying their elevator ride to higher value. But the "bubble" burst, and by November 17, 2000 the total paper value of stocks lost an incredible $2.4 trillion. Millions of investors who had unwisely expected stock gains to go on forever were suddenly facing debt or even bankruptcy.

Solutions for Stress?

If we fail to manage our finances properly, we not only hurt ourselves; we can get our whole family in trouble! If this has happened to you, consider: "So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; for you have come into the hand of your friend: go and humble yourself; plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird from the hand of the fowler" (Proverbs 6:3–5).

Strive to find solutions. Consider this admonition our Editor in Chief, Roderick C. Meredith, gave several years ago: "A first priority would be to pay off all credit card debts—and all other debts we possibly can. We should also have at least the equivalent of 60 days' living expenses in case of a sudden breakdown in the banking system or a similar emergency. Also, we should gradually work out a family budget that allows us, over time, to set aside financial resources to carry us through a year or more in case of job loss, catastrophic health situation, etc." ("Are You Prepared?" Tomorrow's World, Jan-Feb 2005, p. 3).

If you are crushed by the burden of debt, you must apply resourcefulness. Seek out what help might be available. Go to the phone directory and search for government and community agencies that can help in an emergency. Most importantly, ask God for help. You can survive the stress of financial troubles by applying principles of biblical economics, frugality and living within your means. Ask God for help, and remember His promise: "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

Perhaps we experience persistent worries and anxieties. The patriarch Job had fears, but he failed to face those fears. This is what he said: "For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me" (Job 3:25). Job experienced what we might today call a "self-fulfilling prophecy." Has this ever happened to you? If we face our worries and fears, we can then acknowledge them and ask Almighty God for help!

The Apostle Paul gave a straightforward solution to the problem of worry, stress and anxiety. Notice this amazing biblical strategy: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6). In other words, share your worries, your fears and your concerns with God in prayer!

Take care of your health. Maintain a positive attitude. Forgive others. Take time every day for prayer, Bible reading, and meditating on the truth of God. Work diligently, exercise regularly and strive for adequate sleep and rest. Pray about everything that worries you, and pray with thanksgiving. Live by these principles, and you can turn your stress into success!