Learning Not to Fear the Future
- 2007 15 Jan
Many Christians make decisions related to financial issues that are motivated by fear of the future rather than by trust in God and in His provision.
Fear of the future can cause Christian families to scrimp and sacrifice for retirement or for some financial disaster. But too often, little or no thought is given to the fact that God is able to care for those who put their total faith in Him.
This doesn't mean that we shouldn't plan ahead, make retirement provisions or maintain an emergency reserve account. These are all necessary to ensure financial stability for the family. However, when primary attitudes of fear and worry are motivating a Christian's financial decisions, there needs to be a re-evaluation of financial priorities and a recommitment to trust in the Lord.
When Christian families are prompted by fear of their financial future, often they will cut back on their tithes and offerings as a first step in their attempt at financial stability. Such action, in the words of William Shakespeare, is much like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Honoring God's mandate to tithe the first fruits of our income and keeping our offering vows to God are the ways for us to ensure that we will not become victimized by financial downturns.
Withholding financial commitments made to the Lord for the sake of buffering ourselves against potential future financial hardships will end up costing us our financial security, rather than guarding it, simply because God's blessings will not be on these self-imposed buffers.
Faith is the opposite of fear, and Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as things that we hope for and things that we do not presently see or have. God's plan is that we have some needs in our lives in order that we can develop our faith in Him. That is why it's vital for us to view these potential future financial needs as opportunities to exercise and develop our faith.
No Christian who truly wants to serve God can live in fear of financial loss. In Matthew 6:24, Christ was very specific when He said that we must make a choice about either serving God or money. We cannot serve both. If we are fearful of our financial future, then we aren't trusting in God or in His provision. In essence, we are choosing to serve the fear of financial loss, rather than serving God who has conquered all fear and holds the future in His hands.
We live in an extremely materialistic society. Too often, our priorities are based on desires and wants, rather than on real needs. Our perspective of what is actually a need is clouded by what our materialistic society promotes. So, we get caught up in the mad rush to protect against any future crisis that can potentially threaten these society-defined needs. Although God has promised that He will always supply our needs, He has not promised that He will supply all of our wants.
Just because we expect an answer from God that we feel will be a positive response to our situation, He may not choose to answer the way that we want or expect. His answer very well may be "no," in order that we can learn maturity and learn how to rely totally on Him.
There could be different reasons why God may not answer the way we expect Him to respond. We may ask with the wrong motives (James 4:3), or the timing may not be right, according to God's will and purpose. Or it may simply be contrary to His overall plan (Acts 21:13-14).
There are four steps that we must follow in order to trust God with the present and the future. They are:
• Find God's direction for your life. Most frustrations experienced by Christians come as a result of patterning their lives after someone else's life, rather than finding -- through prayer and study -- God's direction for their lives.
• Develop a conscious effort to trust God. Put thoughts, words and commitments into action and do not buy on credit or hoard. Wait for God to supply, and plan ahead.
• Develop a long-range viewpoint. Trust God's directives and His guidance, even though we cannot see the end result or understand why He is doing it that way (Matthew 6:34).
• Pray diligently. Prayer is the key that unlocks God's blessings, power and direction (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).
Even though we are bombarded daily with doubts concerning the financial future of our nation's economy and the economies of the world, we must not doubt that God is in complete control. Do not panic and do not allow yourself to be governed by fear of the future. Keep your commitments and vows to God, pray without ceasing, and 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.
© 2005 Baptist Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.