Financial ProblemsQUESTION: I'm experiencing financial problems and need help! What are some guidelines to get me back on track?ANSWER:
When experiencing financial problems there are some practical guidelines to help us get back on track. Of course there has to be an honest reality check, some good old-fashioned common sense, and self-discipline employed to get started and to stay on track until the goal has been reached. The reality check begins when one faces the real issues that are at the root of financial problems. These can include covetousness (wanting to keep up with what everyone else has), carelessness with our resources, and/or need experienced due to loss of job or health. Identifying the base need is the priority, and this can be accomplished through a bit of soul searching while honestly evaluating one’s situation. Once that is done, there can be forward movement to get back on one’s feet financially.
Since the reasons for experiencing financial difficulties can be widely varied, not all solutions will be easily reached. Some problems require radical intervention and outside help. That means there must be a willingness to concede control and accept help from others for however long a time it takes to stabilize the situation. This may be necessary if the financial difficulty is due to an inability to meet financial responsibilities because of the loss of physical health or loss of employment. Help may come from family, extended church family, or local and government agencies. The issue is to be open to receive a hand up to help in the interim and not expect a hand out. Whatever the reasons for the financial problem there are some guidelines that are universal.
One commonsense guideline is to establish a baseline budget so that what is spent matches what is coming in, regardless of its origin. This involves self-discipline and making difficult choices to distinguish between what is actually needed and what is merely desired. The LORD has promised to “supply all your needs from his glorious riches" (Philippians 4:19, NLT). The promise to believers is that God will supply all we need and not all we want. Quite often there is a distinct difference, and when we try to blur those lines of distinction, we get into financial difficulties. We are stewards of what we receive and how we use those resources will not only determine our own solvency but our ability to be effective servants of God.
The first item in our budget needs to be what we "give back." People often say that they are so poor that they cannot afford to five to charity or give offerings to God. The principle of tithing is based on the fact that we cannot out-give God. When we give to Him what is our "reasonable service" (Romans 12:1, KJV) in talent, time, and money, God blesses what we have left and multiplies it a "hundredfold" (Matthew 19:29). Since it all is His gift to us, giving back a portion of it is to our own benefit for we are always blessed from God's abundance.
There is another guideline that is essential to finding financial stability when we are in the midst of financial difficulties. That is being thankful for what we have and content with the details of our lives at any particular time. Contentment with the state of our lives does not mean we shouldn’t try to better ourselves. However, contentment in the heart means that we are thankful for what we have and realize the basis for our blessing. The Apostle Paul wrote, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances" (Philippians 4:11). Contentment allows us to work to get ahead with the right heart attitude of honoring God first, and that has the effect of putting our resources into the proper perspective. We can choose to allow money to be a tool to use rather than allowing money to use us.