The word “fear” is mentioned 500 times in the Bible. However, the words “fear not” are mentioned 365 times, a perfect reminder, for every day of the year, from God. What’s the case between money and fear? While fear is naturally part of our DNA, God emphasizes that we should “fear not” because nothing overcame Him, and by faith in Him, nothing will overcome us. Money, however, for the past 2 years, has shaken many people’s faith and now millions of people are fearful for their life. Due to the coronavirus, a global climate of anxiety, uncertainty & worry took over and remains to this day.
In this exclusive ChristianWealth.com post, Alex Cook, CEO and Founder of ChristianWealth.com interviews Bernie Dymet, CEO of ChristianityWorks.com.
BERNIE, IS FEAR BAD?
Fear is obviously a very natural reaction to adversity. It is not absolutely bad, and sometimes, fear even keeps us safe, especially when the fight and flight mentality kicks. Admittedly, we can have “unhealthy fear” as well.
These days, a lot of people sit down to think and worry about all the different things that could go wrong like losing a job, the house, getting COVID, the wife leaving you… this and that. And sometimes, we imagine that they are all going to happen at once.
God does not want us to fear. Money and fear should not be an issue. It is no wonder God says “FEAR NOT” or “DO NOT BE AFRAID”, 365 times. One for every day of the year. So yes, while fear is sometimes a healthy thing, most of the time it is as you said, debilitating.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF FEAR?
Well, I think fear is caused by our natural desire to be safe. I am sure you have a lock on your front door (or for some, bars on your windows) because you do not want the bad guys coming in the middle of the night, and so you want to keep yourself and your family safe.
Here in Australia, that desire to be secure ends up as a desire to be affluent and comfortable. And so, we begin to equate security with affluence and comfort. I live in an apartment. It is not a plush apartment, but it is a nice, comfortable apartment. If I had to sell that and move into something lesser and smaller. Is that really going to kill me? The answer is no, it is not. I think here in Australia, we begin to equate comfort with security. And I think that is where it gets a little bit dangerous.
WHY ARE MONEY AND FEAR HUGE TRIGGERS?
I think we have wrongly equated that more money means more safety. Of course, that is not true. People with money still get cancer, earthquakes still happen in rich countries, and wars are lost even by vast armies. But we do embody our desire for security and the idea that more money means safety.
So when Jesus spoke about our desire for money and security in money, in Matthew 6, He did not use the term “money”. He used the term “mammon”, which has this sense of the personification of the desire for wealth.
I think that’s why money becomes so important. Again, it is easy for you and me to sit here in a nice, comfortable studio and discuss this stuff. Right now, where I live in Sydney here in the lockdown, there are young carpenters who are out of work. And these young guys might have a young family and a mortgage. And they are living week to week to week to week. And so it is a really scary place to be, am I going to lose my home? Is my marriage going to fall apart? So right on the cutting edge of a hand to mouth existence is this fear that surrounds money.
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THIS FEAR?
If I go to Jesus, He says “do not be anxious about your life, or what you will eat, or what you will drink, nor about your body, or what you put into it. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.” Matthew 6:25
I think the question we should ask is, who do we put our trust in?
Trust money… live in fear.
Trust God… live by faith.
For the first 36 years of my life, I thought that much of my security was tied up with having money. I wanted to be wealthy! And when some of that did not happen, it became very scary for me!
I know an investment professional, years ago, was counselling businessmen during the global financial crisis. These men, who each had a net value of 50 million dollars, went down to 10 million dollars in a span of months! Some wanted to commit suicide. This illustrates how distorted our trust in money really is.
What is it about us that we want to wrap our security up in money?
Have faith in God, God will look after you, your family, and your home.
Do not fear!
IS IT HARD TO TRUST GOD?
I think the only way to learn to authentically trust God is through hard times. It is so easy to say “I trust God” when everything is going well, and there is enough money to cover all the expenses.
Years ago, God led me in the ministry of ChristianityWorks through some incredibly tough, difficult financial times. I remember Christmas 2013, we had about $100,000 worth of bills that we could not pay. Now, it is not a good Christian witness for a ministry not to be able to pay the bills. But we were prepared to trust in God. As CEO, the buck stops with me. The ministry was reaching millions of people every week, but we were going down.
So every morning I’d go to God and say God, what do you want me to do?
I have done everything. I have written the letters. I made every appeal I can do, what else do You want me to do? And I just got this thing back from God, TRUST ME.
Well, what alternative did I have?
Ok, God, I TRUST YOU.
Christmas Eve, I am driving into my car park at home, I get a phone call from a guy who has given a bit of money a few years ago, but not for a long time. He said, Bernie, I have just had a great stock market transaction, I want your bank account details, I am putting $100,000 in your account today.
If you are faithful God will honour His word. It may not be how you expect it, may not be when you expect it. The only way to learn to trust God is to experience His faithfulness firsthand when there’s no one else to help.
It’s God’s M.O.! That’s a fantastic story, Bernie. I’ve worked with other ministries and I hear stories like that all the time. God works indeed, and often it is at the last minute!
My wife said to me next time, it will be easy. And I said no. Next time, the problem is going to be bigger, right? And it is going to be harder. The more the ministry grows, the more zeroes there are at the end of your bills. And so of course, God expects us to do what we can do. He does not expect us to be spiritual couch potatoes and sit there waiting for him to drop the manna out of heaven.
But at the same time, there are some things that we cannot do. If you’re a young person, and you just lost your job, and it doesn’t look good, and you’ve tried everything and it’s in the middle of COVID. All you can do is trust God, where else are you going to go?
In John 6:66, when Jesus was talking about, “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you can’t follow me,” in that verse 66, it says a whole bunch of people left him because they didn’t like what he was saying. And he said to his 12 disciples, are you going to leave me too? And they said, “Where are we going to go?”
That is where it comes down to? Where are you going to go?
The answer is you can trust God.
But there is only one way to learn that.
SUPER – NATURAL
That’s right, Bernie. But as you say, you made a good point. We are not to be spiritual couch potatoes. We have got to do our bit and let God do his bit. In fact, I love the word “supernatural”. To me, God does the super, and we do the natural, we have got our responsibility to do our bit. But God tips in the super. And that is what comes when we trust.
Lastly, obviously, the Bible talks so much about money. Why? I mean, you are a Bible teacher. And so you’re teaching about all sorts of topics, not just money. But why do you think it is that the Bible talks so much about money? I believe there is something like 2350 verses. Why is it such a profoundly important issue in Scripture?
It’s interesting! But people get twitchy. I have a theory that the most sensitive nerve in the human body is the one that runs between the heart and the wallet, right. I think when you touch that nerve, people react and screech We are addicted to money. And it is so easy to want to accumulate money and feel secure in your wealth.
You do not have to read very far in the Bible to see how upset God gets when you put your trust in something other than Him. Whether it be an idol, whether it be mammon, whether it be whatever it is, God wants us to trust Him.
Does God need my money? Is he sweating, Alex, on you putting those one hundred bucks in the church offering this Sunday? No, he owns the cattle on a thousand hills. What God wants is not our money, but our hearts and wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be. So that is what God’s after. That is why He talks so much about money because we love to love money.
So true. And as you say, God is not sweating on it, because there is no recession in heaven. Knock that off. But yes, he just wants us to hand it all over and trust him.
It has been fantastic talking to you today, Bernie. If you do not mind, I’d like to ask you to pray because I know there are a lot of people out there who are genuinely fearful of what’s going on and what might happen tomorrow and so forth. If you can just pray for peace for them.
Father God, I pray for each one of us. Lord, fear is real and this COVID thing is real, the lockdowns are real, and the financial impact is real. Lord, we do not want to diminish any of that.
But Lord, You are so much bigger than COVID. You are so much bigger than our financial issues. And over and over again your Word says that when we trust in You, You will provide.
Father, I just pray that You get us to read Matthew 6, all of us again in our own time and just breathe it in and drink it in.
Let Your Holy Spirit write Your peace on our hearts.
Father, may You bring peace to anybody today who is with us, who is afraid who is struggling about anything.
And Lord, prompt us to take the natural steps that we need to take now to be part of Your solution. Well, as Alex said, You do the super we do the natural. And Lord may You bring peace to our hearts.
In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
This article is based on an interview between Alex Cook, CEO and Founder of ChristianWealth.com and Bernie Dymet, CEO of ChristianityWorks.com.