We live in a precarious world and perilous times. We witness calamitous events from disastrous hurricanes to wars, destructive earthquakes to financial upheavals.
Our Lord predicted economic woes, international conflicts and natural disasters would preceding his second coming (Matthew 24:1-13; Luke 21:1-20). For Christians, such fearful events ought to turn our thoughts to Christ and his return.
In recent weeks the economies of America, Europe, Asia and Britain have been battered with financial bailouts occurring almost daily and measured in hundreds of billions of pounds. Corporate giants have gone bankrupt and apparently rock-solid institutions have disappeared into competitors’ or government ownership.
Such events are little short of apocalyptic. In times past God warned men of impending judgements in clear and certain terms. Today the writing is on the wall just as surely as in the times of Daniel (Daniel 5). Let us read and study the signs of the times and consider what they tell us of our nation’s moral bankruptcy and spiritual decline.
In his providence, Almighty God allows events to overtake us so that we might look up to heaven and consider our actions in the light of eternity (Romans 8:18). As the ultimate Regulator of this world, God has given us his holy Word as an authoritative and sufficient guide for life. By obeying his way we will be safe from the calamitous events of time and eternity.
A passing world
The world is not an eternal habitat for the believer, for his citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). The Christian faith and the philosophy of this world are incompatible because the world suffers the moral pollution of sin. Some are concerned for the pollution of the environment; would that we were equally concerned for the moral and spiritual state of people’s souls.
Christians are not to love the world. Love for the world is irreconcilable with love for the Father (James 4:4). The apostle John says, ‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world’ (1 John 2:15-16).
Again, ‘The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever’ (1 John 2:17). Financial assets and worldly possessions are unreliable. The only sure thing about the present world system is that it won’t last for ever (Isaiah 40:8). Only those who are saved by grace in the will of God will abide for ever with the Lord in heaven. We are to set our affections above, and be ready to break camp and leave this world behind (Psalm 90:12).
The Bible says, ‘The love of money is [a] root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows’ (1 Timothy 6:10). Craving money will compromise our faith and cause us to suffer unnecessarily. Money may bring pleasures and comfort in the short run, but the deceitfulness of riches and the cares of the world can choke our spiritual lives (Matthew 13:18-23).
Whether money is a good or bad influence depends on our attitude to it. Some of God’s servants, such as Job, Abraham and Solomon, were blessed materially, and we can learn from their experiences. The Bible contains more than 2,300 verses on how to manage money wisely. One day our stewardship will be examined (Romans 14:12).
We must take care not to let money displace God and his will for our lives. Of course, a believer should labour to support his family: ‘If any provide not for his own … he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel’ (1 Timothy 5:8). But short cuts to gaining wealth are traps that ensnare us. We should strive to have good moral and ethical principles in the workplace and be as salt and light in this world (Matthew 5:16).
And we are to please God, not men. Paul says aptly, ‘whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men, knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ’ (Colossians 3:23-25).
The key to career advancement is to seek God first and his righteousness, and develop our God-given talents and skills – and then do our best to glorify him in whatever we are given to do (1 Peter 4:10-11).
A key to financial contentment and happiness is to share our blessings with others, especially those in the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). Paul testified, ‘I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35).
Some of the most miserable people are those who hoard their money. Solomon gave this prudent advice: ‘There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself’ (Proverbs 11:24-25).
Let us acknowledge that it is God who gives us power to get wealth. 1 Timothy 6:17 says, ‘Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy’.
Some Christians seem perpetually to have holes in their pockets. If that is true of us, we need to humble ourselves before God and examine whether we have neglected him. Haggai 1:6 says, ‘Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes’.
If money goes out as fast as it comes in, there may just be a fundamental problem with our stewardship. Are we employing godless or self centred principles in managing our God-given resources?
It is important to discipline ourselves, to seek the Lord first and be content. There are many hidden persuaders tempting us to indulge in shopping sprees. Solomon says, ‘Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied’ (Proverbs 27:20).
The secret of financial wisdom includes fearing God and putting him first. Colossians 3:1 says, ‘If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth’.
And Solomon adds, ‘He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich … There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up’ (Proverbs 21:17, 20).
Our lasting security is found not in bank accounts, shares or investments, but in Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Worldly temporal wealth affords no lasting security. ‘He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch’ (Proverbs 11:28).
God may providentially allow unforeseen events to wipe out our material wealth overnight – an accident or natural disaster, a stock-market crash, an extended illness. Such events cause us to return to and focus upon him.
But even if we are spared such things, the only lasting security lies in a saving relationship with our God and Maker through Jesus Christ. ‘Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death’ (Proverbs 11:4).
So let us resolve with the psalmist: ‘Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God’ (Psalm 20:7).
Based on an article by Jack Sin