A Christian Response to Market Fears

A Christian Response to Market Fears

Economic slowdowns. Job losses. Political hopelessness. Market stagnation.

Investors are skittish right now and many are struggling to find any signs for hope. The stock market has lost steam and seems ripe for a “correction.” Interest rates have nowhere to go but up, meaning even “low-risk” bonds could be in trouble. The U.S. economy seems to have stalled, and most economies overseas are in worse shape than we are. As a Christian investor, how do I go about being a wise steward of the assets God entrusted to me in this type of environment?

Give your investments away.

From a Christian perspective, the best thing you can do when you fear the market is about to work against you is sacrificially give away some of your investments. (Incidentally, this is also the best thing you can do when you believe the market is going to go up!)

Shortly after the market collapse of 2008 & 2009, I shared a plane ride with a woman who was very curious about my job, particularly my more generous clients. When I shared with her that many of those I worked with were actually increasing their donations in light of the economic calamity, she was incredulous. The idea that people would give away money in a market rout seemed ridiculous to her. Shouldn’t they be circling the wagons and protecting themselves first so they’d have more to give away later? This is the financial equivalent of your flight attendant’s, “Secure your own oxygen mask before attending to others.”

I cannot argue with the logic. There is a certain wisdom there, but it is a worldly wisdom. The truth is that many of us fall in love with our money and use arguments like this to avoid sacrificially giving.

Of course, if you think the market is about to tank, the argument could be made that it’s the perfect time to give, before investment value is lost! And giving appreciated assets is a more tax efficient way to give anyway.

There is great scriptural precedent for sacrificing in the midst of uncertainty. The entire Old Testament idea of “first fruits” was about giving away a portion of your yields before you knew how your final harvest would actually turn out.

Here’s what happens when Christians give away their wealth:

  1. Giving stops us from loving our money.
    “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

Nothing breaks the power money has over our hearts than giving it away.

  1. Giving reminds us that provision & protection come from God.
    “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17)

A very wealthy Christian once told me that his wealth made it harder for him to trust God for protection, but a lot of us less wealthy Christians struggle with this too. Giving cautions us that God alone meets all our needs.

  1. Giving teaches us that there are better things than getting rich.
    “Command [the rich] to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:18-19)

American culture is obsessed with making more money. Wealth itself isn’t bad, but there are many things that are way more important, and giving helps us remember what those things are.

  1. Giving warns us that there are worse things than running out of money.
    “But God said to [the rich man], ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20-21)

What good is it if you gain all the riches in the world but lose your own soul?

  1. Giving focuses us on others over ourselves.
    “I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35)

Nothing helps us value others above ourselves than giving our tangible assets away for other’s use instead of our own.

So, fellow Christian, do you fear what the future may hold? Then perhaps it’s time to reexamine your giving and experience generosity in a way you haven’t before.

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