Give more, worry less: A Christian perspective on the Stock Market

Give more, worry less: A Christian perspective on the Stock Market August 5, 2011

I was somewhere between The Dalles and Hood River when I first heard the awful news. It was shortly after 2 p.m. PST.

My immediate thought was that I ought to turn the wheel a hard right and drive straight into the Columbia River.  (Okay. Just kidding about that. I wanted to make sure you were really paying attention because this is important, y’all.)

In case you were hiking in some remote hinterlands and didn’t hear the news — the Dow Jones industrial average dropped over 500 points on Thursday.  That amounts to a loss of about $800 billion, at least on paper and anyone who has ever played Monopoly understands that real money is always counted in paper.

Yammering-heads want to know — What’s driving this market down?

Mostly fear.

I don’t know where you were during the market crash of 2008, but I was in North Carolina, likely waiting in line at a gas station, because for some totally inane reason, whenever the market tumbles, people run out and fill their fuel tanks. This is particularly true in the Bible Belt.

I don’t understand why people are compelled to buy gasoline whenever the stock market sputters, but apparently a lot of people think that when the end of the world gets here they are going to be required to drive someplace. Is there a four-lane to heaven I don’t know about?

I wrote a entire book about fear. (Where’s Your Jesus Now?) And an entire book about God’s money. (Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide?)

I have a suggestion. The next time you start sweating all up underneath your arms because the Dow Jones is taking a nose dive,  why don’t you sit in the comfort of your own home and read one of those books? It’ll change the way you worry.

You won’t be tempted to make a hard right and head for the river. Instead you might do what I did — turn off the yammering heads — spend a few minutes thanking God for all the abundance that’s ours.

A lot of Christians have been misbehaving in money matters. Oh, I don’t mean they’ve been swindling people, though there’s plenty of that going on in and out of the Church.  What I mean is that the very people who claim to live lives of faith are being compelled by fear to hoard and worry. It’s pathetic the way Believers carry on in light of the least bit of bad news about anything. They huddle up and begin to scheme ways to keep what they have and get them some more of it.

I’m telling you right here, right now that is exactly the wrong response to a stock market nose dive.

You want to know what a Believer should do when he or she hears that the Dow Jones has dropped 500 points?

You should give some of your money away.



Give it away.


Something you don’t think you can afford.

Give it away to somebody who needs it more than you do.

Like those starving babies in Somalia.

You think they worry about the stock market? They are so hungry they don’t have enough energy to worry.

They just hope. They hope somebody, somewhere will care enough to bring them a cracker, maybe a slice of bread, a bit of water. Hope is all they have left.

The ironic thing is that for all their poverty, for all their hunger, the people  in Somalia possess the one thing we so desperately need in this country — Hope.

We’ve become a nation of obese people who feast upon fear and despair.

What was it the martyr Jim Elliot said?

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

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  • jaz

    If any good came out of the last few years of economic recession / depression, it might be this:

    A lot of us realized that we didn’t NEED a bigger house, a better car, more of the latest fashions, all of the coolest electronic toys, and a fatter bank account than our neighbors in order to be find peace and fulfillment in this life.

    And that spectacular lesson goes against everything our televisions have been telling us since we were knee-high.


  • In 2008 I was at a gas station next to a guy in a pickup who had no less than 20 gas cans in the back – filling all of them. “I ain’t gonna run outta gas! I got me a generator at the house and we ain’t gonna worry about the power runnin out neither,” he said. Wow! Your books and you have changed my life. If loving you and your books is wrong – I don’t want to be right 🙂

  • Martin Luther observed 500 years ago that what we cling to or flee to in times of distress is truly our God, or god.

  • Bill

    Sweetness. Thanks so much for the admonishing word. There is no God but God.

  • In other words, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19

  • I’ve been meaning to order those two books of yours, sounds like a great time to get on it!

  • Dorothy Swanson

    Amen and amen. You preach it, sister! (And keep preaching it.)

  • Tim

    Most excellent!!!

  • LOVE-LOVE-LOVE-LOVE-LOVE! Did I mention that I LOVE this? I nominate you Jeanne’s favorite person of the day.

    My sweet husband (who truly is a man of faith) tends to worry just a tad when the market goes wonky, so yesterday he wondered out loud, had I seen what happened to the stock market? And I said “yes” in my cheeriest voice and smiled at him and please passed the corn on the cob, because wouldn’t you know there was still food on our table?

    Then today he wondered did I see it had dropped even more? And I smiled again and chummed up to my pal Habakkuk and said, “‘Though the fig tree should not blossom . . .’ and isn’t this a fabulous opportunity to give glory to God and delight His heart by loving Him and trusting Him? And think of all the desperate people who may for the first time ever turn their eyes away from vanity and look to the living God?”

    And I smiled again (because, isn’t it the best adventure of all to live hilarious faith?) and he smiled back and said, “Yes. Yes, it is a good opportunity to worship God and pray for those who are afraid.”

    Love you, Karen. You make me laugh, and you make me think, and today you’ve made my day. I’ll go write a few checks now.

  • Yes, yes, yes. I think the same thing. I have thought….PARTICULARLY if we think the end is near, we should be GIVING our money away, rather than hoarding. Do you know how many Christians I know who are hoarding – Guns, Gold, survival food….it is so….wrong.

  • Amen, Karen. Good words. I know I can struggle too, and do at times, but what we need is perspective as you give us here. Thanks!