We live in a period of long-lasting world financial crisis. Such crisis are especially seen in Common Independent State countries. The results of this crisis are felt in every family, whether they live in villages or big cities.
Not long ago, an acquaintance phoned me at my office. A non-Adventist, she asked me a familiar question. "And how are you?"
"Wonderful! Praise the Lord!" I answered sincerely. I could hear the surprise in her voice. She began to ask about the latest financial crisis and wondered if the crisis had hurt me personally or the church in general. At the lime, my salary had dwindled to less than half its original amount due to inflation. But my feeling of gratitude to the Lord for His daily blessings, peace, love and care didn't leave me.
Of course, the Church is influenced by the finances of its members. It is hard to remain financially stable in disturbing times. Even the best economists wrestle with keeping financial stability in a time of financial uncertainty.
As Christians, people of God's Word, we should search the Scriptures to find God's counsel on finances. Our inner spiritual condition influences not only our financial situation but how we use our material blessings. If we continually worry about money, either having too little or too much, our problem is not financial but rather spiritual. The Lord says to His people through David, "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall being it to pass" (Psalm 37:5). The Lord wants to teach us to trust Him in all circumstances. We need not worry, for everything belongs to Him. "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1).
We read about God's servants in the Bible. Again and again, we are given examples of people trusting in God. Among these heroes of faith, the life and ministry of the apostle Paul is very bright. In full faith, Paul says to the young minister Timothy, "But godliness with contentment is great gain ... And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation ... For the love of money is the root of all evil... But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses" (1 Timothy 6:6-12).
The advice given to Timothy by Paul is universal and relevant to all times, especially today! If Paul visited a pastor's family today, he would repeat the same advice. Such counsel is good for both the pastor and his wife.
Living in times of financial hardship has made my faith in God grow even stronger. Along the way, I have learned some valuable ways to stretch the money our family does have. I'd like to share some of my ideas with vou.
- Never spend more than you earn.
- Buy fruits and vegetables in season when they are inexpensive; can them for future use.
- Exchange clothes with other families.
- Buy classical clothes; the style will be fashionable and beautiful for a long time.
- Buy several pairs of the same socks. If one sock wears out, you won't lose the whole pair.
- Don't go shopping for food when you are hungry; you will be less likely to over buy.
- Make a list whenever you shop. Stick to the list and refrain from impulse shopping.
Ellen White, in her book Counsels on Stewardship gives advice on how not to borrow money.
- Make a budget, listing your tithe and offering first (Mal. 3:10-12).
- Take stock of your spending during the month. Count every nickel you spend. List expenses in categories: housing, food, clothing, recreation, entertainment, medical, etc.
- Make a covenant with God. Agree to pay off your debts and stay out of debt.
- Stop borrowing money. Stop purchasing things with borrowed money.
- Commit yourself to living on what you make.
God blesses those who are good stewards. We have benefitted from God's blessings and our neighbors have witnessed God at work in our lives. One summer we were invited to participate in a camp meeting organized by the youth department of our conference. My husband, Victor, was in charge of the program. The camp meeting coincided with the time scheduled for digging our potatoes. The potatoes have to be dug every day because any ones left in the ground will be stolen by the night soldiers. When it was time to leave for the camp meeting, our potatoes still were not ready to be dug. We decided to give back to the Lord the tithe of potatoes according to the results of harvest for the last three years. We left for camp meeting and returned two weeks later. Though many of our neighbors' potatoes had been taken by night guards, our rows of potatoes were untouched. When we dug our potatoes, our harvest was beyond expectation. We praised God for His protection and blessings.
Stewardship does not apply only to adults. Let your children be present when discussing financial plans for the family. Help them to understand the importance of good stewardship. Children need to understand why they can't have every new toy or the newest fad. By exposing them at an early age to the advantages of financial planning, they will form a foundation for careful spending that will last a lifetime.
There may be times when a financial crisis occurs even to those who are frugal and good stewards. If this happens, go to the Lord. Tell Him your problems, give yourselves to His care. In everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. His will shall be done in your lives and you can rest assured that God is looking after you.
Rejoice in the Lord always and be good stewards of the blessings He bestows upon you.