How To Prosper During Economically Hard Times
By Mark R. Anderson
The Holy Spirit is directing me to teach on how to prosper during hard times and doing it God’s way. We cannot deny the fact that the economy is a bit unstable and the rising prices of all commodities can take a toll on the wallet; but as believers in Christ we are not subject to the economy of this world. We can live above it. God’s word is a guide to prospering during hard times.
One of the most talked about subjects in the Bible is FINANCES, and instructions on how to handle our finances. We desire to see you blessed financially and every other way during economically difficult times; so does God! Psalm 35:27 says, Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; and let them say continually, “Let the LORD be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”
This ministry as well as Sharmila and I personally live by these scriptures. Trusting in God and living by God’s word for our supply creates an atmosphere of prosperity.
KING SOLOMOM’S VIEW OF FINANCES
King Solomon was one of the wealthiest men to walk on this planet. Solomon asked God for wisdom and not wealth, and God gave him both (see 1 Kings 4:5-15)! It was the wisdom of God that brought him such tremendous prosperity. It helped him in all the affairs of life. The book of Proverbs, mostly written by Solomon, is loaded with wisdom on how to prosper and when we tie these with other verses in the Bible it is clearly apparent how easy financial prosperity is even in economically unstable times.
One of my favorite verses on prosperity is Proverbs 22:4. It says, “By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life”. Religious traditions, not the word of God, have taught us for centuries that poverty is a sign of humility in God’s sight. God’s word is quite contrary to this belief. God’s wisdom and His word tell us that if we truly tap into humility and fear (reverence) for God, then with it comes RICHES AND HONOR. What will you believe, men’s traditions or God’s word? 1 Timothy 6:17 also tells us that if we want to be rich (financially) then we should not be haughty or prideful.
True and lasting prosperity come when we truly understand and walk in humility – the humility that Jesus walked in. By the way Jesus was not poor. 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” Notice one other major ingredient that helps us prosper in the verse: GRACE. We cannot work up the blessings of God; it comes by God’s grace. 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 talk about how grace is involved in prospering God’s way.
1 Peter 5:5 and James 4:6 tell us who gets the grace. “ He gives more grace. Therefore He says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Who gets it? The humble! The major ingredients in prospering God’s way are humility and the grace of God.
If we acknowledge our dependence on God and humble ourselves to do it His way then prosperity will automatically come our way. Many believers try to prosper through their own works, merits and ways and end up in a financial mess. This is not a good place to be. We cannot continue to operate according to the system of the world and expect lasting results. If our financial foundation is not laid properly, it could collapse someday with nothing to show for our labor.
GENEROSITY TOWARDS THE POOR
King Solomon talks at length about the poor and how they should be treated. Proverbs 22:9 says, “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.” We teach these principles to believers and leaders in India. Many of them struggle financially because they do not give, but wait for handouts from westerners. Many do not have integrity when it comes to money matters. We are very careful in the way we deal with money matters in third world countries. We teach them that if they will be generous towards the poor in the long run they will be ‘poor no more’. God’s word says that we will be blessed when we learn to take our eyes off ourselves and care for the needs of others, especially the poor and destitute. Solomon calls it a ‘generous eye’. This means that in our hearts we need to be constantly looking for opportunities to be generous with what God has given us, whether finances or our own unique giftings.
The enemy’s way to keep us in poverty is for us to be selfish and not generous, concerned only with our own personal needs. Proverbs 28:27 says, “He who gives to the poor will not lack, But he who hides his eyes will have many curses.” If we hide our eyes from the poor then we can be sure that we will not be blessed but just the opposite, operating with a poverty spirit. If we give to the poor and have a genuine desire to help people in need, then God’s word says ‘you will not lack’. That is nice to know in troubled times. Proverbs 13:22 (Amp) says, “…the wealth of the sinner (finds its way eventually) into the hands of the righteous, for whom it is laid up.”
Proverbs 22:16, “He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, And he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty.” Many do not consider this verse, but once again God makes it abundantly clear that if we care for the poor and destitute, than His blessing will come upon our lives.
LABORING TO GIVE TO THOSE IN NEED
Proverbs 12:24 says, “The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor.” When we are diligent in our jobs or with the giftings God has put in our lives we will ‘rule in life’ and not be put to ‘forced labor’ or having to do something we do not enjoy to make a living for the rest of our lives. God has intended that we work in order to make a living. The apostle Paul said “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Work is essential to being sustained in this life. However if all we are doing is simply earning a living then we are missing the whole point of life on earth and the reason for our existence.
Ephesians 4;28 says, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” This is God’s way of reforming a thief. Get him working and laboring with his hands. Why? That he may have something to give to him who has need. God’s way of reforming a thief is for him to work and be a blessing to others. If he will do this then the former thief will be blessed and will prosper.
Let’s look at another passage of scripture that talks about being a robber. “Yet from the days of your fathers You have gone away from My ordinances And have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the LORD of hosts. But you said, ‘ In what way shall we return?’ “ Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘ In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “ If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. “ And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the LORD of hosts; And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:7-12).
In verse 7 God tells His people to return to Him. The people answer asking how should they return to Him. Look at God’s answer in verse 8, “will a man rob God.” How did these people rob God? By not giving tithes and offerings! In other words they were only focused on themselves and their own personal needs. Verse 9 says that this lifestyle brought a curse of poverty into their lives. One thing that I absolutely do not want in my life especially during economically trying times is to be under a curse of poverty. When we refuse to give back to God a small portion of all He has blessed us with then we are making a strong statement to God and others. We are saying ‘God I do not trust you as my source financially.’ We are robbing God and others who could be reached with the love of Christ. Selfishness can be an inward expression of our heart, of not trusting God with our lives.
Israel was to show Jehovah that they were returning to Him by ‘giving back to Him’. If Jesus has control or your finances then there is a good chance that He has all of you. Verse 10 says something that God says nowhere else in the entire Bible. He says “Try Me in this” or ‘put Me to the test’, ‘prove Me’ or ‘I dare you’. We have found that whenever the Lord tells us to give personally or from the ministry, beyond our comfort zone, it is a win, win situation because we cannot out give God. When we release the little in our hand then He releases the unending amount in His hand. Why? So that we can be a continual source of blessing to others and be blessed ourselves (See Genesis 12:1-3).
Look at verse 11. When we are involved in giving, giving Jesus control of our finances then He gets involved in our finances “rebuking the devourer” in our lives. It is so much easier when God does the rebuking. Nothing stands in His way. Sharmila and I as well as this ministry do not find it hard to give any amount the Lord tells us to give, because we know that His provision is more than enough and is on its way if we are obedient to Him with our finances.
It is exciting and fun to make Jesus the Lord of our finances and doing what He wants us to do with those finances; even it means suffering lack for a short period of time. (See 2 Corinthians 9:6-8). We can never out give the one who longs to be our source at all times, especially during economically hard times. He desires that we trust Him in all areas of our lives and that includes with our finances. To give as God says of our hard earned money makes a statement and sets an atmosphere for God’s provision in our lives.
Laying up Treasures in Heaven
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share (Greek -distribute), storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:17-19). If we are willing and ready to give even before receiving blessings from God verse 19 says we are laying up a good foundation for the time to come. Our willingness to distribute and give secures our financial future especially when financial prosperity seems difficult.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” How do we lay treasures in heaven; by giving to a Bible believing church, the poor, missions or anything that furthers the kingdom of God. This is the best place to invest as the investment can never be lost or stolen by the enemy. Investments into the Kingdom of God will never fail. Jesus places an extremely high value on souls; He gave His life for each one, and they will never lose their value to Him! Sharmila and I have found that this investment has the best financial yield, even in this lifetime; compared to anything else we have ever invested in. We know our financial future is very secure because we are laying up treasures in heaven. (see also 1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Jesus wants our hearts. If our earthly treasures are sowed with eternity in mind, then our heart is in heaven where it belongs. If our treasures are only used for material things then our heart is not in heaven, but on earth, and all earthly things will eventually pass away.
Jim Elliott the missionary martyr to the Auca Indians of Ecuador said this about laying treasure in heaven. “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that he cannot lose.” Are you making a difference in this lifetime by laying up treasures in heaven? This is all that will count for all eternity. Giving of ourselves that others may know Christ is what counts for eternity. Giving financially is not the only way to lay your treasures in heaven. Making Jesus the Lord of every area of our lives and giving our all for the sake of the gospel is also how we can lay up treasures in heaven that do not fade away.