Giving During Tough Economic Times

Sub-prime mortgage housing crisis, dramatic shifts in the global economy, bankruptcies and bailouts of companies that had been the economic backbone of our country – oh yes, the times haven't just changed, they’ve changed big-time.

We are experiencing a financial blowout that impacts our total economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2009 the growing army of the unemployed reached more than 14.5 million and counting. That means hundreds of thousands of individuals and families across our nation suffer from job loss – or the specter of that possibility.

Reaping the Burden

We’re reaping the burden of overwhelming excessive debt. God’s financial principles and instructions aren’t complicated. In fact, He designed them to be easily understood. Nevertheless, we’ve ignored Him.

Obviously, reduced income increases the need to make sound financial choices and the economic downswing we’re in amplifies that need. So, how can we be expected to continue giving during such a desperate economic time as this?

Perhaps a better question would be: What better time than now to prove that God continues to provide for His own? After all, biblical financial principles do work, and we can continue to give even during this hard-hitting economy.

It may be too late to practice prevention, but the best way for us to correct a downward financial spiral is to apply measures that will counterbalance any unbiblical financial practices and prevent further economic problems. Here are four steps to get you going – and you may want to suggest these to your state and federal government representatives.

1. The first is obvious. Stop borrowing.

“The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives” (Psalm 37:21 NASB).

Borrowing isn’t God’s best for His people and should never be used as a routine part of financial planning.

2. Start saving.

“There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up” (Proverbs 21:20 NASB).

The good news is that for the first time in decades, Americans have begun to save. Biblical principles encourage us to save for future needs instead of borrowing or using credit.

3. Ignore sales pitches such as, “buy now, before it’s too late.”

“The plans of the diligent lead certainly to advantage, but anyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5 NASB).

Patience and consistent discipline – not quick decisions – are the ways to financial security.

4. Develop and live by a budget.

“Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, but the one who regards reproof will be honored” (Proverbs 13:18 NASB).

Develop and live on a monthly spending plan – and that includes giving!

Importance of a Plan

Of course, tough economic times may translate to “not enough money to make ends meet” – and that can make it very frustrating as we try to manage by living on a budget. But a spending plan is even more important now, during a tough economy. We must be good managers of what we have, especially when living on limited incomes, and a budget (spending plan) will help you do that.

Organizations such as Crown Financial Ministries can help you get started. .Or, perhaps someone in your church can help you with an in-depth evaluation of your whole financial situation, including your income, spending, debt, savings and of course your giving.

Giving – and especially giving to God – is a matter of the heart. Even though a job loss or cutback in pay may make it difficult to give, you should determine that you will commit to give something to the Lord.

Presently, you may not have a lot of spendable income, but you do have time. Perhaps you could offer to provide some sort of volunteer service to your church or to people in need within the body of Christ as a way of giving until you have found some economic relief. However, under no circumstances should you slack off from giving to the Lord.

Low income or no income is a serious difficulty for millions of people, so this would be an excellent time for each of us to adopt an “Apostle Paul attitude.” Paul said that he knew:

“How to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Philippians 4:12).

The remarkable part of that statement is that Paul wrote it when he materially had nothing. Economies and circumstances change, but our God is unchanging. He remains the same faithful and loving provider.

Consider this. Now would be an excellent time to prove how God provides for His own – and we can continue to give even during difficult economies. Christians should always be looking for reasons to give rather than looking for ways not to give. After all, it’s all about God, and how He provides for His children – and that’s what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 6:33.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matt. 6:33 NASB)