Stress Is Bad
Main Bible Passage: Luke 12:22-34
One of the most common causes of stress in life is money. At some point, most people have experienced a mismatch between where they would like to be financially and where they actually are. There are different factors that can contribute to this. External factors can play into it, and the current economic climate adds challenges around interest rates, mortgage payments and energy bills. In addition to these external factors, there are also the decisions that we have made ourselves that we now live with the consequences of.
Some particular components of the financial stress that we experience might include:
- Lack of savings
- Desire to make a bigger difference through increased giving
On this final point, the Bible warns of some of the consequences of debt. Proverbs 22:7 says “the borrower is the slave of the lender.” This verse is a proverb not a command, and should be viewed as general good advice. There may be some situations where debt is not a bad decision (e.g. a mortgage for a house), but it is not something we should do lightly or without careful thought.
In the primary passage in Luke 12, Jesus speaks into the topic of financial anxiety. He does this by challenging the way we think about two key questions. The first is how we think of what we need. He points out that the Gentiles chase after and abundance of possessions, but we are a called to a higher pursuit: the kingdom of God. Often the cause of financial stress can come become because we think we ‘need’ things that we could actually do without. As a result we either feel anxiety about the lack of resources to buy the thing in question, or we buy it anyway with cash that we don’t have and store up debt and more financial stress for the future.
The second way question that Jesus challenges our thinking on is where their provision comes from. He highlights how God provides food for the birds and arrays the flowers with beauty. One component of financial stress comes from a lack of trust in God as provider. This should not open the door to financial irresponsibility, but just the opposite. Because we can trust the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills to give us our daily bread each day, we do not need to stretch beyond our means, but can honour him in using what we have with generosity and responsibility, in confidence that it is ultimately in his hands.
Three prayers that we might pray to avoid/escape from debt or other financial stress.
- God, give me self-control (see Proverbs 25:28).
- God, give me understanding (perhaps this is a good moment to explain the real costs of debt – including how interest works!).
- God, give me a plan (you could point people to a budgeting course, which would be a great thing to run as a church alongside this preaching series).