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FIRST-PERSON: Don’t fear the future

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP)–Fear is common among people of every age; many experience some degree of ongoing anxiety. They are locked in lonely prisons of anxiety and fear. The Sept. 11 attacks, random killings, wars, rumors of wars, and Homeland Security alerts have spawned new fears.

Christians often make decisions about financial issues motivated by fear of the future, rather than by trust in God and His provision. This fear of the future may cause Christian families to scrimp and sacrifice for retirement or “just in case” the financial world crashes. Too often, little or no thought is given to the promises of God. After all, He assures us He will provide for and take care of us if we will place our total faith in Him.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t plan ahead, make retirement provisions or maintain an emergency reserve account; those things are all necessary to ensure financial stability for our families. But if a Christian takes an honest look inside and finds that primary attitudes of fear and worry are motivating his or her financial decisions, a reevaluation of financial priorities is needed along with a renewed commitment to trust in the Lord.

Christian families who are motivated by fear of the financial future often cut back on their tithes and offerings as a first step in an attempt at financial stability. Such action was masterfully acknowledged by William Shakespeare in Act 1 of “Titus Andronicus,” “Because he hast spite for the visage of his own face, he hath cut off his own nose.”

To ensure that we will not become victimized by a financial downturn, we must honor God’s mandate for us to tithe the first fruits of our income and keep our offering vows to God. This includes our tithes and any other financial commitment we have made to God, such as missions support, benevolence and so forth.

However, if such a commitment was made in the form of a faith promise, then that giving is subject to God’s provision. A faith promise is based on God providing what we want to give in the future. Christians should not feel obligated to give above the tithe until God provides the funds. Nevertheless, if the commitment was not a faith promise, but rather a vow to give, then those vows must be honored.

Withholding financial commitments made to the Lord for the sake of buffering ourselves against potential future financial hardships may end up costing us our financial security, rather than guarding it, simply because God’s blessings will not be on the self-imposed buffer.

The opposite of fear is faith. In the New Testament Book of Hebrews, faith is described as things that we hope for and things that we do not presently have (Hebrews 11:1). It is God’s plan that we have some needs in order that we can develop our faith in Him. It is vital for us to view these potential future financial needs as opportunities to exercise and develop our faith.

No Christian can truly serve God and live in fear of financial loss. In Matthew 6:24, Christ very specifically said we must make the choice to serve God or money; we cannot serve both. If we fear the financial future, we aren’t trusting in God or in His promise to provide for us. Instead, we choose to serve the fear of financial loss, rather than serving the God who has conquered all fear and holds the future in His hands.

The culture in which we live bases priorities on desires and wants, rather than on needs. As a result, our perspective of what is actually a need is easily clouded by what our materialist society defines as needs.

The outcome is that we get caught up in the mad rush to protect against any future crisis that can potentially threaten these society-defined needs. Although God promised He will always supply our needs, He has not promised to supply all of the wants that our society has redefined as needs.

Therefore, even though we sincerely ask God to honor our request, perhaps to supply the money to repair our second car or automatic dishwasher, His answer may be “No,” so that we can mature spiritually and learn how to rely on Him totally.

God may not choose to answer the way you want or expect Him to respond. You may be asking with the wrong motive (James 4:3), or perhaps the time isn’t right according to God’s purpose. Your request may be contrary to His overall plan (Acts 21:13-14), or maybe God simply wants you to learn to serve Him rather than expecting Him to serve you (Job 41:11).

There are four steps to follow that can help you learn that you can -– and should -– trust God completely, not only in the present, but also the future.

First, find God’s direction for your life. Many frustrations you experience are the result of patterning your life after someone else, rather than finding, through prayer and study of God’s Word, God’s direction for you.

Next, make a conscious effort to trust God. Put thoughts, words and commitments into action, and don’t buy on credit, or hoard; wait for God to supply, and plan ahead.

Then develop a long-range viewpoint. Trust God’s directives and guidance, even when you cannot see the end result or are unable to understand why He may be doing it that way (Matthew 6:34).

Finally, pray -– always! Diligent prayer is the key that unlocks God’s blessings, power and direction (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

Even though you may be bombarded daily with doubts concerning your financial future, our nation’s economy and the economies of the world, never doubt that God is in total and complete control. Do not panic and don’t be governed by fear of the future. Keep your commitments to God, pray without ceasing and always trust Him without reservation.
Howard Dayton is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. Dayton and the late Larry Burkett joined forces in 2000 when Crown Ministries led by Dayton merged with Christian Financial Concepts led by Burkett. The new organization became Crown Financial Ministries, on the Web at www.crown.org.

    About the Author

  • Howard Dayton