When Money is Tight &
Times are Tough part 1
as a Follower of Christ
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
October 19, 2008
Ziglar tells the story of a son who wanted to surprise his dad with a
special gift on his 60th birthday. He wanted to give him a copy of his
family tree, tracing his genealogy back hundreds of years. And so the
son went out and he hired a professional company to put it together,
and when it was done the researcher who compiled the study reported
back to the son. He told him, “I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news
for you. The bad news is that your dad had an uncle named Harry that no
one in the family ever knew about. He was a horrific criminal. He spent
time in the State Penitentiary and he was put to death in the electric
Well, the son was upset when he heard that. “This is
terrible!” he said. “That ruins everything. I can’t possibly give my
dad a birthday gift like that. Not with that information in there.
“Wait a minute!” the researcher replied, “That’s the
bad news; I haven’t told you the good news. The good news is that I
think I found a way to write about Uncle Harry in a way that your dad
would be fine with it and it still maintains the integrity of our
research. This is what I’ve got: ‘Uncle Harry occupied a seat in a
government institution. He was connected to his work by the strongest
of ties. His sudden death came as a real shock.’”
sometimes words get twisted and manipulated in order to put a positive
spin on something that’s really negative. And we’ve seen a lot of that
over the past month or so. We’ve seen politicians and world leaders
attempting to put the best face on the financial free fall that’s going
on in the world.
Along with that, there’s been a lot of finger
pointing and blame placing. Which would be kind of entertaining if real
people weren’t losing real money. One day the stock market is through
the floor. The next day it’s through the roof. Record swings in both
directions. But mainly, in a downward trajectory. In the States, banks
and big businesses are fine one day, and the next day it’s being
bankrupt or it’s being rescued by a government bailout or it’s being
bought by some other institution. Plus, credit has dried up. People
can’t get loans anymore. Mortgages are being foreclosed on. It’s tragic
Thankfully here in Canada we haven’t been
devastated to the same extent as the U.S. and Europe. But that doesn’t
mean we’re unaffected. The TSX has plunged right along with the Dow.
And the truth is, we can’t escape the gravitational pull of the
financial situation to our south.
Now, why would we as a
church take the time to talk about the financial crisis and how to
handle our money? I mean, managing money doesn’t sound very
“spiritual”, does it? Shouldn’t churches stick to the spiritual and
avoid tackling issues like this?
Well, let me answer that this way:
are two things that I hope can always be said about the preaching here
at Sunrise – First, that it’s Biblical. And second that it’s relevant.
the great thing is, if we get the first part right, then the second
will follow. Because the Bible is packed full of practical, relevant
stuff for us today. In fact, the Bible is just as relevant today as it
was when it was first written. That’s one of the proofs of its
inspiration. And it has a lot to say to us about our lives today,
regarding pretty much every area of our lives.
You see, the
Bible doesn’t separate what you might call spiritual things from other
perhaps more practical issues of life. Because God doesn’t see a
distinction there. We tend to compartmentalize different areas of life,
but to God, it’s all life. It’s all integrated. So in His Word… in the
Bible… He address issues of relationships and sexuality and business
and ethics every bit as freely as He address issues like forgiveness
and salvation and Heaven and Hell.
And if you’re going to follow
Jesus, that means you follow Him in every area of life. And that means
in the area of money, too. Because the Bible has a lot to say about the
issue of money. In fact, if you count it all up, Jesus had a lot more
to say about money than any other topic, including salvation and heaven
and hell. So while your initial response might be to question why a
church would address the current financial situation in our world, the
answer is because God addresses it.
So for today, and over the
next two weeks, we’re going to be talking about “When Money is Tight
and Times are Tough.” We’re going to discover the wisdom of what God
tells us in His Word. And you’re going to find that even when things
look pretty bleak, there is still hope. And there are still principles
that God reveals to us that can guide us through these tough times.
So we’re going to start this morning by asking…
a Follower of Jesus, What Should Be My Response to the Financial Crisis?
Set the example by trusting God, not money.
a lot is happening. People are even drawing comparisons to the Great
Depression. But don’t allow it to throw you into a tizzy. If you panic,
if you despair, if you become consumed with your finances and live in a
state of fear, what example are you setting for others? What message
are you sending? If you profess to follow Jesus and claim that
ultimately He is in control, then what are you saying by getting caught
up in the panic?
You’re saying that you don’t really trust God.
You’re saying that you don’t really believe He’s in control. You’re
saying He can’t really work all things out for the good of those who
love Him like He promised.
1 Timothy 6:17 (NLT)
who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their
money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly
gives us all we need for our enjoyment.
With all this talk about
being financially secure, it’s important to remember that your security
is not in finances. It is God who blesses you with financial gain and
it’s in Him that you should place your trust.
Philippians 4:19 (NLT)
this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his
glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
you know, it’s kind of a Catch-22. God wants to bless you, and often
times He wants to bless you financially. But the danger is, all too
often when people are blessed financially they take their eyes off of
the Blesser and focus on the blessing.
Jesus put it succinctly when He said…
Luke 12:21 (NLT)
“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich
relationship with God.”
true wealth is your relationship with God. That’s eternal. What happens
here with your monetary wealth is only temperal. So trust God, not
Mark 8:36 (NLT)
“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own
So that’s the first response: keep your priorities straight. Trust God,
not money. You should also respond this way…
Do what you can to pay off all your debts
know, the problems today are amplified because of the load of debt
people are carrying. Look, if you lose your job but you have everything
paid off, you’re not going to be happy about, you’re going to struggle
a bit, but you’re going to make it.
However, if you lose your
job and you’d got a load of debt, you’re in serious trouble. Even if
you don’t lose your job but your income is simply reduced somehow,
you’re in for some pretty hard times.
And a lot of people are
facing that right now. It’s a major problem in our society. That was
true even before this crisis. It’s just magnified now.
• In 2003, for the first time ever, the average Canadian household owed
more than its annual take-home pay.
• We carry 74 million credit cards – three for every Canadian over the
age of 18.
• Each time you use a credit card, you charge an average of $102.00,
which is up from about $50 just 20 years ago.
• Between 1997 and 2001, Canadian credit card debt increased 90%.
• We’re piling on debt twice as fast as our income is growing.
• Credit counseling agencies say they're busier than ever.
• Students are often graduating with debts of $25,000 or more.
• As of 2004, the average Canadian household carried a debt of
And it’s pretty much the same south of the border.
• The average American carries eight credit cards and 20% of them are
• On average, they owe $8562 on their credit cards alone, and they’re
paying about $1000 in interest each year.
society has been living on credit, going deeper and deeper in debt, and
that’s a big part of what led to our current situation.
these financial problems seep into every area of life. One Gallup poll
revealed that 64% of all married couples argue over money issues. At
54%, it’s the #1 cause of divorce.
(Contributed to Sermon Central by: Mike Harris)
related stress can cause health issues, it can rob you of peace of
mind, and it can tempt you to do things that are less than ethical just
to try to keep up.
You see, the problem with debt is that it leaves you trapped and
Proverbs 22:7 (CEV)
…those who borrow are slaves of moneylenders.
doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s always wrong to borrow money, but it
does mean that you should pay it off as quickly as possible. Even if it
means you’ve got to make some big sacrifices, pay it off. Because as
long as you owe, you’re a slave.
So let’s say you have a credit
card debt of $10,000, you have an interest rate of 18%, and you’re
going to make the minimum monthly payments. How long is it going to
take you to pay it off? Four years? Seven years? Twelve years? Fifteen
years? How long?
It will actually take you close to 23 years to
pay it off, and you will pay a total of $9800 in interest. So you’ve
pretty much doubled the cost and taken a quarter of a century to pay it
off, and that assumes you don’t put anything else on the card in the
all of that time, you owe your creditor money. You’re working to earn
money for someone else. And as long as you owe them money, that’s the
way it’s going to be. You will in effect be their slave.
dumb, and it’s smart to pay it off. But not only is it smart, it’s the
right thing to do. It makes financial sense and moral sense to pay off
Romans 13:7 (NLT)
Give to everyone what you owe them…
Because when you don’t do that, you become a thief.
when a financial crisis hits, it becomes harder and harder to pay your
debts. That’s why it’s best to not have them to begin with. But just
because it gets harder doesn’t mean you can ignore this verse. You
still have a responsibility to give to everyone what you owe them.
expect we’ll be talking more about how to do that over the next couple
weeks. But in addition to paying off your debt, you also need to…
Avoid accumulating more debt.
be honest here. What is it, more than anything else, that leads to
debt? Greed. Plain and simple, it’s greed. In fact, it’s the greed of
Wall Street and Banks and consumers that led to this crisis. You want
more and more because you think you’re entitled to it, you think you
deserve it, and you think it’ll make you happy. But Jesus says…
Luke 12:15 (NLT)
“Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how
much you own.”
get that straight. Buying more and more stuff is not going to add one
bit of meaning to your life. If anything, it’ll distract and clutter up
your life instead.
“There are two ways to get enough: One is to accumulate more and more.
The other is to desire less.”
~ G.K. Chesterton
Be generous toward God and others
last Sunday I talked about how generous you are when it comes to giving
toward specific needs… how you’ve generously supported missionaries,
how you’ve given to each other when someone’s in need, how you give of
your time and resources to serve those who are far from God. Some of
you display remarkable levels of generosity, and that’s fantastic. Our
God is a generous God, and He wants His followers to display that same
But here’s the thing: When a financial crisis hits,
the tendency is to stop being generous, and to instead start clinging
to what you have. You start hoarding your possessions. There’s no way
you’re going to give or share anything. But the problem is, that just
rots away at your soul.
Ecclesiastes 5:13 (NLT)
Hoarding riches harms the saver.
even in the face of a financial crisis, let me encourage you to
continue to be generous. Oh, the specific numbers may change because
you simply have less at your disposal. But keep a spirit of generosity
And remain generous toward God. The Bible
instructs us to tithe, which means to give to God through the church
10% of everything you earn. And this is one of those “Trust Me” things
that God says. You can’t explain on paper how tithing actually helps
you live better, but it does.
“Ask people who tithe faithfully
and they will tell you of the ten, hundred, and thousand times returns
they have received by giving. Universally, tithers will also all tell
you that if you tithe you’ll live better on the 90% than you ever did
before on the 100%.
The prosperity benefits of tithing are so significant that it would be
worth it even if it came without any tax benefits.”
~ David Voth, in The 10 Secrets Revenue Canada Doesn’t Want You to
Know, pp. 73-74
doesn’t make sense, does it, how giving away 10% of your income helps
you to live better and make ends meet. But God says “Trust Me, and
that’s exactly what will happen.”
Malachi 3:10 (NLT)
all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my
Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the
windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you
won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!”
The only time in the Bible where God says “Test me”, and it’s in this
area of tithing.
Proverbs 3:9-10 (NIV)
the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then
your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over
with new wine.
Underline the word “firstfruits.” That means that
you don’t give God what’s left over at the end of the week. He doesn’t
want your leftovers. That doesn’t honour Him at all. He’s honoured when
you give to Him first… right off the top. And when you do that, He will
help you in the other areas.
And in both these passages… in
Malachi and in Proverbs… notice the order in which things happen. Do
you wait for God to pour out a blessing on you and then give to Him?
No, you worship Him by giving to Him first… regardless of how much you
have… and then comes the blessing.
And yes, I believe tithing is
practical even when you are in debt and even in times of financial
upheaval. In fact, according to these verses, tithing may be just what
you need to do to get through this time.
So be generous. Be generous to God and to others.
the final thing we’re going to look at this morning will be of no
surprise to you. You hear this all the time, but do you actually do it?
Because whether you’re in a financial crisis or not, you should always…
Live within your means
Stone is the pastor of Southeast Christian Church, a mega-church in
Louisville, Kentucky, and this is what he had to say just recently
about this as it relates to the situation in the U.S.:
appetite to have more and more has become greater than our ability to
afford those things. And the result is that most Americans fell into a
pattern of buying more house than we could afford, of upgrading to a
nicer vehicle, or charging things when we should have been paying with
~ Dave Stone
Does that sound familiar? Maybe that’s
been you’ve been acting. If not, then you certainly know someone who’s
gotten themself in trouble by living this way. They’ve lived beyond
their means. There’s an old adage that says…
If your output exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be your
for far too many people, that has become a reality. They’ve never been
content with what they’ve had; they always wanted more. And now they’re
Hebrews 13:5 (NLT)
Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.
Live within your means. So what does this mean for you?
• It could mean that you downsize the
house you live in.
It could mean that you get rid of that second car or trade that
expensive car in for a reliable second hand car that gets you from
point A to point B.
• It may mean that this year you don’t go
on your dream vacation. Instead you go on an affordable vacation.
• It probably means that you make
adjustments in the small ways.
• Save the Café Mochas and desserts for a
special treat once in a while instead of every time.
• Maybe you can get rid of your cable for
a while… save yourself $40, $50, $60 per month.
• Or what if you start clipping coupons?
• How about if you break those nasty
habits that cost so much?
• Why not use the library instead of
buying your books?
• Perhaps you need to eat out less. And
when you do eat out, why not get water instead of a soft drink?
And if someone says to you, “We’d like to have you over for dinner
sometime,” respond by saying “How about tonight?”
Look, I’m not
suggesting that you take a vow of poverty. And I’m not saying that you
have to give up all the pleasures of life. In fact, I’m planning on
going out for lunch later today. But what I am saying is, live within
your means. Spend less and save more.
Proverbs 21:20 (NLT)
The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.
within your means. In fact, I would say live so far within your means
that you have room to be generous, to prepare for future emergencies,
and to put away into savings. That may mean that you make some drastic
changes. But if that’s what it takes, do it.
We’ll continue next
week talking about what to do When Money is Tight and Times are Tough.
But as we finish up here this morning, I want to show you a video. It’s
a video of Max Lucado, who some of you are familiar with. He’s a
pastor, a tremendous writer, and is one of the leaders in the Christian
Church today. I believe this video is of him speaking at his church in
Texas. Take a look… this will be our closing prayer today.
VIDEO – “You Have our Attention, Lord”
[Much of this message is adapted from “A
Country In Crisis” by Dave Stone]