“I am so stressed out!”
“I’m so tired of being broke!”
“Why can’t I make this relationship work?”
“I’ve got to lose some weight!”
Do any of these phrases sound familiar? How many times in the last week do you think you have used one of these phrases yourself? How many times in the last week have you heard someone else vocalize any of these thoughts?
Chances are you hear phrases like these or you even use phrases like these yourself far more than you would like to. Despite the fact that America is referred to as the “greatest nation on earth,” recent polls have discovered that Americans are among the most stressed out (1), unhealthy, financially insecure, people on the entire planet. Throw into the mix that the divorce rate is about 40-50% and it does make you wonder what definition of “great” we are using.
Try an experiment. The next time you hear someone use one of the above- mentioned phrases, ask them very sincerely, “How do you hope to change that?” If you get a blank stare, don’t be surprised. Take a moment to really think about any of the above questions that echo around in your head each week. Do you know how to change the situation? Would you even know where to start? Most folks know that they are unhappy about these areas of their lives, but do not have the slightest clue how to improve things even a little.
It is very easy to chalk these questions up to “life’s mysteries” and comfort yourself with the myth that no one knows the answers. That, however, is simply not true. We do have the answers and solutions to these types of problems, but they are waiting for us in an unlikely place. They are waiting somewhere most modern people would rather not delve into; the Bible.
The word of God is often kept in a cubby hole of religion, and so people do not think of seeking answers to everyday practical problems there. The word of God is holy. How could it deal with my very human problem of being over- weight? The word of God is sacred. How could it help with the dirty details of my messed- up relationships? The word of God is full of deep spiritual secrets. How could it help me balance my checking account?
Is the Bible something you just pick up on Sunday mornings to tote to church so you can follow along with the message? Maybe it gets some special attention around Christmas time when you share the nativity story with your kids. If this is the extent to which you interact with the word of God, you are missing out on so much. Our good God has folded in the pages of His word answers and solutions to some of our most human questions and problems. The word of God is not too holy to help us with our humanness. The word of God was written to address our humanness. That was the entire point, to help humans.
Whether you are dealing with stress, financial issues, relationship issues, health issues God has shared Biblical solutions to these practical problems in His word.
Money problems look different for each individual or family. What may seem like money problems to one person or family would seem like abundance to another. So, it is important to understand that when we use the term “money problems” that is relevant to your particular situation. But regardless of your particular situation, your money problem is a problem to you and therefore a source of stress and worry.
Financial health is determined by income to debt ratios and savings for both emergencies and retirement. Most money problems can be traced back to a lack of savings or heavy debt. (2) So, what could the word of God possibly have to say about our money problems today?
One of the first issues that must be dealt with any time you are looking into money problems is the weakness of greed. Greed is the ongoing desire for more even after needs are met. Greed comes in many forms and always has a negative impact on a situation. Greed is often a hidden culprit at the root of many money issues.
The word of God says in Luke 12:15,
“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
When our needs are met, what we get above and beyond that must be considered carefully. God does in may instances will for us to have things that we want above and beyond our needs. The key is to prayerfully consider these things and only move forward when we have peace from the Holy Spirit. Problems arise when our wants are chased after recklessly without mindful, prayerful consideration.
Putting money into its rightful place will help us better understand its purpose. Ecclesiastes 5:10 says,
“He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.”
Money is not an entity of itself which we should desire. Money is simply a tool which God has given us to accomplish other things. When we look at money this way, we can better understand its rightful place. It is not something to be desired for itself, but rather for what we can accomplish with it. Money is a tool.
If money is a tool which we need to accomplish tasks, then the next natural question is what is the task? You will need to mindfully, prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in knowing what the money purposes, tasks are for you and your family. The tasks that need to be accomplished will look different for each family, but God will, in His goodness, show you exactly what He wants you to accomplish with the money He has given you.
When we have settled on God’s purpose for our money, then we can begin devising a plan for our money. Financial stability has never been achieved without a plan. Whether it is a business, a person, a nation, no one has ever attained financial stability without a plan. Everyone’s plan will look different, but most plans will have a few basic tenets, which are also based on the word of God.
- Giving to God’s House- 2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
- Household maintenance- 1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
- Pay your bills (including debt)- Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
- Save for emergencies- Proverbs 21:5 The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.
The particular details of each of these categories will look different for each person, but the principals are the same for everyone. With prayerful, mindful consideration, God’s word can help you solve money problems.
Generally when we think of relationships we think of romantic relationships and marriage. Although, marriage and romantic relationships are some of the most important relationships in our lives, the Biblical principals which can help us govern our romantic relationships are the same principals which can help us nurture and protect all of the relationships in our life. Our relationships with our friends, our children, siblings, parents, co-workers and peers are all important to our overall happiness. These relationships are also important to God.
Relationships are especially important to God, because it is in our relationships that we have our greatest opportunity to show Christ to the world. God’s will is that we become “little Christs” to all of those whom we interact with. The principals which will help us to become “little Christs” to those we are in relationship with are universal.
Even some of the most complicated relationship issues have a root in lack of kindness. The divorce rate in America is 40-50% (3). No doubt, the reasons that can contribute to divorce can be deep rooted, long standing, and destructive. But even the most tangled situations of adultery and abuse have a root in a lack of kindness.
People are looking for mind-blowing revelations from therapists and scientists to tell them how to make relationships work, but the truth is when we return to the Biblical principal of kindness, much of these issues can resolve themselves.
Ephesians 4:32 says,
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you..”
Regardless of how tempted you are to say, “This is oversimplifying. My relationship problems are much more complicated than that,” really stop and think about it for a minute. If you were hurt by someone else, it was because they were not showing kindness. If you have hurt someone else it is because you were not showing kindness. This is the first part of the verse because that is the starting place for all relationships. Kindness. Regardless if you have been hurt or you were the one that hurt another, both situations can be healed with the second part of that verse; forgiveness. God does understand relationships and the answers are not complicated.
Satan wants us to think that our problems are unsolvable. Then he can keep us trapped in a sense of anger, anxiety, worry, stress and victim mentality. We move through our lives thinking that everyone else has it better than we do and everyone is doing us wrong. God’s plans for our relationships are simple. Start here: kindness.
Another element lacking in many relationships, no matter who the relationship involves, is faithfulness. We give up on people. We give up on endeavors. We give up on goals. We see the same from others. The result is that others do not trust us, or we do not trust others. This mutual distrust between us and the people we interact with shades all of our interactions.
Faithfulness is not just a trait which God looks for in our religious or spiritual lives, but it is also crucial to our practical, everyday lives as well. Luke 16:10 says,
“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”
Faithfulness means we are trustworthy and dependable. It means that we will keep believing in a cause even when the going gets tough. It means that others can count on us.
The miraculous thing about faithfulness is that it generates more faithfulness. When others see they can depend on you, trust you it inspires them to be more dependable and trustworthy as well. This good cycle keeps growing, helping all of your interactions operate in a more healthy way.
You may be thinking of relationships that are exceptions to these rules. Some relationships do not react to kindness and faithfulness. Some relationships do not fall into healthy cycles no matter how many Bible verses you throw at them. Some relationships are just toxic. What can you do about toxic relationships?
Our good God in His wisdom understands about this too. God does not offer us Pollyanna clichés and tell us to slap them on all our problems like bandages. God knows that His ways only work for those willing to go His way. We all know that everyone is not on that same path. So what does the word of God say about these types of relationships? What if it is these types of relationships that are causing our problems?
God shows us what to do with toxic people too. Romans 16: 17-18,
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple."
Having the wisdom to know when to leave a relationship is just as important as having the wisdom to know how to work on a relationship. These verses tell us plainly that God does not will for us to work on all relationships. When you mindfully, prayerfully evaluate relationships through the leading of the Holy Spirit you will be led in wisdom concerning which relationships to work on and which relationships to leave behind.
This is not an easy thing, but it is sometimes a necessary thing. Many people find themselves in relationship difficulties because they neglect to nurture the relationships they should be nurturing and instead pour themselves, their time and their energy into toxic relationships which they should have left behind long ago. The leading of the Holy Spirit will help us to know the difference.
Another practical aspect of our lives which God longs to help us with is our health. Very few people consider their health as part of their Christian lives. Again, we put different aspects of our lives in different cubby holes, and then we are confused and stressed when we cannot connect the dots. It is God’s will that our lives weave together seamlessly. Each aspect of our lives will affect the other aspects. Our relationships can affect our finances. Our health can affect our relationships. All of these can affect how spiritually minded we are. It all flows together in one way or another. Thinking of your health as part of the whole, will help you to understand why you feel the way you feel and what you can do to feel better.
Despite the fact that America has some of the best health services on the planet, the most readily food and water supply and plenty of support services for underprivileged individuals, we are still considered some of the most unhealthy people on earth (4). Why? In the end it all boils down to choices. Outside of the exceptions such as chronic illness or genetic problems, the average American deals with a lack of personal health simply because of their choices.
The foundation of human health is not a gym membership. It is not supplements. It is not even a healthy BMI. The foundation of your health as a human is rest. The human body can go without food for 7 days before you start to experience severe symptoms of starvation. You can go 3 days without water before severe dehydration symptoms impair your cognitive and motor abilities. However, if the human body goes 36 hours without sleep you begin to lose cognitive and motor abilities which can impair a person from completing normal everyday tasks (5).
Resting is one of the simplest ways we can build our health and yet it is one of the most overlooked aspects of health. Normal adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but most people rarely get this. It is not that we don’t necessarily have time to sleep, but rather the majority of people live lifestyles which discourage good sleep habits. Extended hours of screen times late into the evening, large amounts of caffeine consumption, as well as bad bedtime routines all contribute to poor sleep.
Think it’s only your doctor who cares about how much sleep you get? Psalms 127:2 says,
“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”
It is vain. That means it is pointless. Bread of sorrow. That means that this habit, not sleeping enough, will bring your troubles. When you consider that the most common symptom of sleep deprivation is irritability and poor decision-making, it is no wonder that other aspects of our lives are suffering. Our relationships will suffer when we are irritable and making bad choices. Our finances will suffer when we are not thinking clearly enough to make good money decisions. Sleep deprivation even has an effect on your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and disease when you are tired. Those all certainly sound like “the bread of sorrows,” don’t they?
This foundation of health can be improved by creating a bedtime routine. Cut off caffeine early in the afternoon and cut off your screen time earlier in the evening. Set a priority on sleep and your health will improve.
If there were a pill available that would improve your mood, brighten your skin, increase blood flow in your entire body thereby increasing your metabolism, help you lose weight, and create an improvement on the functionality of literally every system of your body, would you take it? What if it didn’t even cost you any extra money? What if it were already available right now in your kitchen?
We don’t need this magical pill, because God has already provided for us a substance that provides all of the above mentioned benefits. Yet, again many of us know we do not get enough water. This is another example of a simple thing that can complicate other aspects of our lives. Remember, God intends for our lives to work together as a seamless whole, not as dis-jointed parts.
Signs of dehydration often include muddled thinking, irritation and lack of energy (6). Think about how these symptoms of dehydration can also affect your relationships, your money decisions, your work life. If you are not thinking clearly, you might make money decisions you normally wouldn’t. Drive through, again? If you are irritable, you might find yourself being unkind to those you need to nurture. Even something as simple as staying hydrated has an effect on your life as a whole.
Lack of ongoing proper hydration can also lead to physical issues such as constipation, muscle and joint pain and even decreased heart function (7).
You might be thinking, “Well, I know I should drink more water, but God doesn’t actually say anything about that in the Bible.” Our God has all wisdom and that is why James 4:17 says very clearly, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” God gets us humans. Remember, He made us. He knows how we are always looking for a loop hole.
Making even small health changes such as adding more water and less sugary drinks can have an impact on all aspects of your life, bringing the parts of your life into more harmony, and ultimately brining you closer to God.
The same logic of, “if you know to do good…” can be applied in the realm of exercise as well. This is an area that many of us would like to avoid if possible. The truth is our bodies cannot be used efficiently in the service of God if we are not strong and healthy.
It is true that 1 Timothy 4:8 says,
“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
We must keep in mind however, that this verse was written in a time period where just daily life provided almost all the exercise anyone could ever need to be healthy and strong. In Paul’s day people walked everywhere, literally everywhere they went. Manual labor was the rule, not the exception. Everyone worked hard physically from sun- up till sun- down. Even the rich and privileged would have exerted more physical activity in one day just going about their normal lives than we do. So the word, “exercise” in this verse is relative to the time period. Most likely, Paul is referencing Roman athletes who performed for entertainment. These people would have had exercise regiments that were above and beyond the normal everyday exercise that everyone was getting.
In our culture, our daily lives do not provide the amount of physical activity needed to be strong and healthy. We must supplement with planned, intentional exercise.
Exercise improves all systems of your body, elevates your mood and helps you sleep better. Once again, all these things work together to keep the parts of the whole you working its best so you can be your best for God.
You may think God only cares about our church attendance, and maybe if we give a little to the church once in a while. God cares about every aspect of our lives. That is why he has provided, in His word, answers and solutions to problems which we face in every aspect of our lives.
Here’s a challenge. If you think you’ve found a problem that the word of God does not address, dig in and see. Study up for yourself and see if God has skipped anything that is relevant to the human experience.