“David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying…
“‘Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours…. ‘Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.’”
– 1 Chronicles 29:10-13
This year has been a tough one. A global pandemic has taken nearly 1.2 million lives, leaving behind grieving family and loved ones. The financial costs are difficult to grasp fully, with multiplied millions out of work and countless businesses closed forever. Here in the U.S., the scale of the economic disruption has been unlike anything since the Great Depression.
Tough times can act as a mirror of sorts, showing us where our confidence lies. When conditions are difficult, who (or what) we turn to to make us feel better is revealing. I would argue that if we’re looking to anyone or anything other than the Lord as our hope, we’re bound to be disappointed.
Some “false idols” are easier to identify than others. Science? We’ve watched the experts tie themselves in knots trying to make sense of COVID-19 and how to respond to it. Politics? Please. Personal savings? Perhaps this one hits a little close to home for some of us. But let me ask: In the face of ongoing economic uncertainty, are you trusting in your savings to carry you through?
(I want you to have adequate savings, of course. But I also want you to resist the all-too-common tendency to trust in the provision rather than in your Provider — see this month’s cover article, Trusting God as Your Provider.)
I don’t know what the days ahead hold for us regarding the coronavirus or the aftermath of a bitter election. Maybe the financial news will be discouraging. The stock market could be frighteningly volatile. But come what may, hold on to the Lord’s conditional promise from the Sermon on the Mount: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and [the Father] will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33 NLT).
If you’ve been following SMI’s counsel, which is based on the protective money-management principles found in God’s word, I am confident that you can survive — even thrive — through these uneasy days and through whatever else that may come. Why? Because:
- You Have the Right Motivation
You see yourself as a steward, a caretaker, of God-given wealth (1 Chronicles 29:11-12). You’re not just in this for yourself, but to increase your abundance so you can make your Father happy through your generous giving (2 Corinthians 9:7).
- You’re Building on the Right Foundation(Psalm 119:105)
You’ve been living within your means, spending less than you earn (Proverbs 21:20), and using your monthly surplus to get debt-free (Proverbs 22:7) and build a savings reserve for times like these (Ecclesiastes 11:2).
- You Have a Specific, Personalized Plan (Proverbs 21:5)
Your investing decisions are based on “inside-out” thinking that reflects your personal goals and tolerance for risk. You don’t get distracted listening to stock tips or reports of what the “smart money” is doing. You’re an initiator, not a responder. Your buying and selling is thoughtful and purposeful (Proverbs 13:16) because it’s dictated by your investing plan.
- You Have the Correct Perspective on Time
You’re not short-term oriented. Taking your cue from the Parable of the Talents where the master was away for “a long time,” your strategy is a long-term one (Matthew 25:14-19). This allows you to take up-and-down market cycles in stride.
- You Have a Realistic Goal
You know that a preoccupation with profits can be dangerous (1 Timothy 6:9-10). You have learned that you can earn annual gains of 7%-10% over time with relatively little time investment, and you are content to be reasonable in your financial ambitions.
- Your Confidence is in God
Just as you should not “grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13), neither should you be fearful (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV) like the rest of men who have no heavenly Father who has promised to “meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Earthly treasure is useful and needed, and at SMI we do our best to help you in that area. But don’t place your hope there. Wealth can’t guarantee peace, joy, contentment, security, or an eternal home. Call to mind that “the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44).
Austin Pryor has 40 years of experience advising investors and is the founder of the Sound Mind Investing newsletter and website. He’s the author of The Sound Mind Investing Handbook which enjoys the endorsements of respected Christian teachers with more than 100,000 copies sold. Austin lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with Susie, his wife of 54 years.
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