Money problems trouble more people than any other single problem, including health. Here's why — and how you can solve your financial worries.
Too many people today assume there is a shortcut to financial security and prosperity. They want to take the easy road to quick gain, only to end up deeply in debt, frustrated and — more often than supposed — on the verge of suicide. Why aren't more people living joyful, prosperous lives? Because so few understand the seven principles of financial success! And fewer still are willing to apply them — even if they learn them.
The BURDEN of Debt
Deficit spending is fashionable almost everywhere today. In the U.S. it began in 1933 when the people were promised a NEW DEAL. They were told that going into debt on a national scale was a temporary measure to prime the financial pump — to get prosperity rolling again. Instead, it took World War II to bring an artificially stimulated prosperity. But those seven years were enough to teach the people the habit of staying in debt, the habit of buying on time what they could not afford, and paying later — if still employed. It has become a national fixation. The habit has since spread. Credit is extended to practically everyone on practically everything. Debt is considered normal by most people. Some claim our public and private debt with mounting interest the cause of our apparent prosperity. But is it? Why, if being in debt is normal, are so many suffering from the terrible mental strain of being in debt? Why, in such seeming financial prosperity, are so many burdened about their jobs, about security, about paying off their monthly installments, about losing their homes, even about bankruptcy? It is time we faced these questions! It is not uncommon to hear the statement: "We're just poor folks and proud of it."
Must the Poor Stay Poor?
But why should anyone be proud of poverty? To remain poverty stricken is a shame. God speaks of poverty as a curse — a penalty resulting from broken laws. Many elderly, of course, cannot help being poor. It may be too late in life for some to change circumstances. Or one may have inherited unusual financial burdens. But that does not mean that people have to stay poor! Look at the patriarchs. God prospered Abraham. He prospered Isaac and Jacob. Few seem to realize why. Material prosperity as a right of birth — the Birthright — became Joseph's. Our English-speaking world inherits that Birthright today, as well as the Blessing. Certainly God wants people to prosper. John was inspired to write: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth" (III John 2). Notice that above all things in this material world, God intends us to prosper and be in health — even as we are prospering spiritually. Physical prosperity and health go hand in hand with spiritual prosperity — moral honesty. The reason the U.S. populace — or any nation, for that matter — is suffering from so much worry about debt and health is that no nation on earth today is spiritually prospering! Instead the world is plunging toward moral bankruptcy. Though health is a MAJOR consideration in our financial well-being, there is not space to explain God's health laws. We have an article on "Seven Laws of Health." Write for it.
Let's examine the seven principles that govern our financial prosperity. Before we plunge into the laws of financial success, consider a typical personal experience of a family that made tragic mistakes in their lives, that plunged so deeply into debt that they may remain in debt for life or be forced into bankruptcy. Such cases are not only frighteningly tragic, but frighteningly common. Would you have made the same mistakes this family did? Mr. B. has a very good job and earns above average salary. He accumulated a thousand dollars for the purpose of purchasing a little house for himself and his family. But he made the mistake, however, of purchasing the house before he had sufficient funds to properly furnish it. Once he scraped together all that he possibly could to make the down payment, he realized that he would have to overspend in order to furnish the place. He was offered very good terms and time payments that he thought he could meet. Not long after he moved into the house he began to realize there were various little needs for the house — garden tools for the garden, and small items that took a few dollars from his wages every week. These few dollars here and there soon mounted up. At the end of the month he found that he did not have sufficient to make payments on the furniture. The payments began to get farther and farther behind. He neglected to discuss his problem with the furniture company. It was not long before he had to lag behind also in the house payments. By the time he had been in the house for one year, he was billed for taxes and insurance far more than he expected! He now was faced with the problem of losing everything he had. What should Mr. B. have done? Mr. B. should have counted the cost before he purchased his house. Had he analyzed the situation, he would have known before he went too far, just what he was getting into. He could have saved for one additional year before purchasing the house, and he could have made arrangements to purchase the furniture a little at a time during that period, preferably for cash. He would not have had the interest on the furniture, and many of the little items for the house he could have picked up in advance throughout that year and then prepared to move into the house.
The Six Rules
Successful businessmen know six of the seven principles regulating their prosperity. That is why they are financial successes. But without that seventh principle, many a businessman has committed suicide in the face of sudden, unexpected adversity. By contrast, not a few people may know only one rule of financial success and are consequently failures in life. Their only hope of deliverance lies beyond the grave! Rule number one: BE DILIGENT, not slothful in your work. Two different places in Proverbs is this rule repeated: "Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds [or whatever your occupation may be]: for riches are not for ever" (Prov. 27:23-24). And again: "I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding: and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down... so shall poverty come... (Prov. 24:30-34). You will never be a financial success unless you are diligent in your work. I know of workers who receive employment practically anywhere simply because they are diligent in their work. Even if they were not trained for a particular job, employers know they would be worth training. Unfortunately some individuals use lack of training as an excuse for lack of effort, an excuse to cover slothfulness. Here is another proverb on this same subject: "Seeth thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men" (Prov. 22:29). Paul makes this a New Testament command in Rom. 12:11. Rule number two: DO NOT BE A QUITTER. Many a failure occurs because an individual gives up when there is still hope of success. Just a little more effort can often turn apparent defeat into success. Solomon was inspired to write: "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small" (Prov. 24:10). Does debt seem overwhelming? Don't quit. Keep working. Keep thinking. Keep planning. See your employer. See your creditor. Talk your problem over with them. Don't sit at home and say, "It's no use!" If you have lost your job, hit the pavement. Find work. There is no excuse for unemployment. Buy a newspaper. Look in the "Help Wanted" section, or in the "Employment Opportunities" section. Go to an employment agency as a last resort. Too many are afraid to look for a job. They faint at the thought of being turned down. Solomon said: "If you faint" — give up, quit, feel like a failure — you don't have any backbone, any fortitude, any strength. I know a man who suddenly lost a job through no fault of his own. His creditors immediately jumped on him. He did not quit. He rustled up two jobs in order to meet his payments. He went to work at two jobs for many months until he got out from under his debt load. Some of you may be in an unemployment area. If so, the husband and father ought to go elsewhere and find work — taking his family with him after, not before, he has located and obtained a suitable job. There is always work somewhere. It is a matter of not quitting until you find it!
The next rule to remember is this: SEEK ADVICE; do not be self-wise. Notice how this third rule follows on the heels of the preceding one. "Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him... The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason" (Prov. 26:12-16). And again these short proverbs:... Cease from thine own wisdom... Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge" (Prov. 23:4-12). The wise person profits by others, rather than listening to himself all the time. It is the know-it-all who really knows nothing. You will always meet some individual in your life who knows more than you do in some particular field. Listen to him. Weigh his advice. Don't act hastily on it. It could be wrong. It might not apply to your case. But above all do not take your own judgment for granted or be conceited in your past experience. Know your limitations and your strong points. Another mistake often made is listening to the man who talks the loudest or seems the most persuasive. Do not judge advisors by their flowery phrases. Find the man who has "common sense" — a gift altogether too rare. Do not seek advice of the man you know will flatter you. Literally dozens of proverbs in the Bible warn against those who flatter their hearers. Find the man who will tell you the truth. If a man is willing to tell you the truth about your financial position, listen to him. He is probably right. If he leads you to see what poor judgment you have used, he is most certainly right! Without advisors and counselors, businesses, as well as nations, collapse. Rule number four: HAVE FORESIGHT. Everyone needs to develop thoughtful regard and make provision for the future. Hind sight is not enough. Notice the proverb: "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished" (Prov. 22:3). Is a lay-off in your factory around the corner? Make provision in advance to meet the emergency. See that another job will be available. Have a little handy cash on hand. Above all DO NOT PLUNGE INTO DEBT WITHOUT MAKING ABSOLUTELY SURE YOUR JOB IS SECURE. And do not tie up what you already own as security unless you are willing and able to lose it if an unforeseen emergency arises. Some have foolishly tied up their car as security for furniture. They lost their job, could not meet furniture payments, lost possession of the car and NOW HAVE NO MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION TO AND FROM WORK. It is easy to put all your savings into a nice home on the assumption that all will be fine, that no small amount of savings will be needed. Remember this proverb: "Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house" (Prov. 24:27). Spend your money for education, training, tools, job improvement. Then, when you are qualified to hold down a good job, and have had the foresight to save some money for emergencies, is the time to enjoy the pleasure of building a home for the family. Do not put your pleasures first. This does not mean that a converted husband and father should neglect the home where his wife — especially if she is unconverted — must spend much of her time. Some unwise husbands have been so ill prepared to make a living for their family that they have allowed their wives to hold down a job to help buy furniture for their home. This should never be.
Two More Rules
Although many of us would find the next two rules of rarer use, a lack of their knowledge could spell immediate disaster if we become confronted with the problems which they cover. Here is rule number five: DO NOT TRY A GET-RICH-QUICK SCHEME. Solomon warns us: "Labor not to be rich" (Prov. 23:4). God wants us to prosper, but to be "rich" is another matter. All get-rich-quick schemes are basically selfish. The way to prosper is to work diligently, plan ahead, invest wisely — not follow some wild project for which one has no training, no matter how easy it sounds. Money does not come easily. It comes through work. "He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough" — and quite often bankruptcy (Prov. 28:19). And notice the next verses: "A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent... He that hasteth to be rich... considereth not that poverty shall come upon him." Lay aside your earnings little by little, until you have enough to meet your emergencies. Remember the ant! And the sixth rule: DO NOT MAKE YOURSELF LIABLE FOR ANOTHER'S DEBTS. "Be not thou one of them... that are sureties for debts. If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?" (Prov. 22:26-27) To be surety for a debt means to make yourself responsible for another's debts. Some people are "easy marks" — others always take advantage of them. If you are not financially willing and able to pay the full amount of another's debt, do not sign a paper or promise to cover defaults of obligations. Many have not only lost their beds, but also their shirts by this mistake! Notice Proverbs 11:15: "He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it; and he that hateth suretyship is sure." These are living financial laws. These principles have been governing your life whether or not you have known of them. Some of you are needlessly in debt because you have been heedless of these laws. You may now be so deep in debt that you face a lifelong uphill climb. But keep climbing.
The Seventh Principle of Financial Success
Here is rule number seven: PUT SPIRITUAL THINGS FIRST. Jesus explained it: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). This is the one principle most prosperous people are unacquainted with. It is often the only principle that the poor, who seek a knowledge of God, have ever understood. This principle, if applied, is an absolute guarantee against starvation and grinding poverty. A knowledge of this principle is often the only reason that poor people are able to keep up their heads in the face of adversity. Ignorance of this one principle is the very reason that many wealthy individuals, in the unexpected moment of adversity, commit suicide. Newspapers are full of such cases — men and women who know all the other rules of success, but who have no mainstay in times of adversity. This financial principle includes following God's law of tithing which brings a promise from God to supply your needs. IF YOU SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF Got — His laws and government, you will be obeying the law of tithing. The laws of tithing are explained in our free booklet "Ending Your Financial Worries." BUT the degree to which God will prosper you and supply your needs depends on how thoroughly you seek and follow the other laws of His Kingdom — the other six principles regulating your financial life! Some have assumed that if they paid their tithes honestly after conversion that would undo all their past mistakes. This is untrue. Obedience to the law does not pay for your past mistakes. Christ's blood pays for past mistakes. God forgives you for breaking these laws in the past — but the physical penalty of debt still remains. Remember that God forgave David for adultery, yet his child — the result of that one act of adultery — died. There is often a physical or financial penalty to be paid to men and society even though God has forgiven you of your transgression. Tithing enables you to have God's help henceforth. And many of you need that help dearly to square your past debts with men. But tithing is not the only principle regulating prosperity, there are six other rules. If you follow these seven laws and remain faithful in your tithing, putting first the Kingdom of God, you will prosper! God has promised it. He will be your partner! Will you take God at His word?