What is the moral thing to do when facing difficult financial problems?

Las Vegas is the worst city in America when it comes to homes being under water or owing more than they are worth.  It isn’t unusual for us to have a Christian couple come in and ask what we think they should do.  Based on our experience of living here for 37 years, it may take at least 20 years before your home gets back to the price you may have paid prior to 2007.  The first 25 years here, our previous home’s value raised 2.97% yearly over those years.  Our present home is now worth what I paid for it in 1999.  So what is a Christian to do?  What we suggest is: It’s a moral decision and no one can make that choice but you.  However, let me tell you what some Christian families are doing.

I have personally known for more than ten years a Christian man who has either directly or indirectly broken every one of the Ten Commandments.  This gentleman became independently wealthy in a business most Christians would never consider being involved.  Had he invested his money wisely he could have retired prior to reaching the age of 50.  For the past 15 years he has completely devoted his life as a solid, committed and totally obedient Christian.  He is, a pillar so to speak, in his church and a person highly respected by other Christians.  A number of years ago he sold his business and has worked in different areas since.  Helping friends and relatives he invested his life savings with them and lost all he had accumulated from the ways of the world.  He recently had to declare bankruptcy and lost everything.  What would you tell someone if they asked: “Why would God allow this to happen?”  Not wanting to be put in a place of one of Job’s friends (Book of Job), I suppose it could be that God wanted to take everything from his past earnings and have him start over completely with money earned God’s way.  God allowed Satan to take away everything Job had been given. However, when Job remained true and committed to God, God replenished him with more than he had originally.

It has been my experience that God will continually stretch us.  He will allow us to go through the most difficult  problems in order to prepare us for what His next plan is for our lives.  No greater example is the life of the Apostle Paul.  Some of the wealthiest Christian business people have had to go through bankruptcy before obtaining their riches.  Sometimes the more spiritually mature we become and the more capable we are, the greater our struggles become.  So how do we handle them?  Do we work more hours as the world does or do we trust that God is in it and the Holy Spirit is there to help us?  Paul’s example is that we must maintain contentment, peace, joy and love regardless. To Paul, problems were challenges and opportunities and not really obstacles.

The question we must ask, did we make a bad decision?  Did someone deceive us into getting into a financially difficult situation and why did God allow it?  When we find ourselves in these situations we must understand how God operates.  Do we know what God promises during these times?  He says the Holy Spirit will take away fear if we turn it over to Him.   Do we realize that God has a purpose for everything that happens?  Why is He dealing with us this way?  Could it be our pride showing us what is important in life or is God just trying to get our attention for another reason?  In sports we always seemed to learn more when we lost than when we were successful and would win.  What is God teaching us and what are we to learn? In making our purchase were we thinking as the world would?  Had we sought the Holy Spirit’s guidance or ignored Him?  First, God knows everything we will go through before it ever happens. He is with us every minute.  He always has a purpose for every situation we enter into.  We know He wants us to conform to His will.  He desires that we become more like Christ.  He wants us to become more dependant and more obedient to Him.   Will our decisions be different in the future?  Will this experience build character and perseverance?  Are we wiser spiritually than before our mistake?  What we have learned, will our experience be able to help others?

Paul writes in II Corinthians 12: 23 – 27 – “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in  the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” It amazes me when Christians encounter a problem or a conflict and feel like God has forsaken them.

Recently I learned of a Christian couple going through a number of financial problems.  It was creating conflict in their marriage.  The wife says that she is leaving her husband.  She asks for prayer.  Dr. Charles Stanley says: anytime you have a problem or a conflict, “view it” as if the problem were coming from God.  It is not that God is causing it but why is He letting it happen? He then suggests that we pray for a discerning spirit and ask why this problem is happening?  They should pray: we made these financial decisions based on believing it was God’s will.  Rather than blaming the husband she should ask: Lord what is this all about?  What are we to learn from this?  Then ask yourself: do I really trust God to work through this?

It seems each couple we council realize that it is something they must pray about and see what doors God opens.  It appears God gives them clarity in how to deal with their situation.  It is not always a financial decision but a moral decision.  Sometimes it is a decision they chose to make at a later time seeing if time doesn’t change their choice.

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