I was recently at an event for professionals and business owners where we discussed generosity. We watched a video testimony of a woman who God had asked to make some specific changes in her life to set her free. She was a doctor, and she felt led to “work like a doctor and live like a nurse” to free up her income to be more generous. She also felt that God was telling her not to save so much for the future.
In discussing the video at our table, a lot of people were impacted by the very last part, about not working so hard to save. Common knowledge says you should save as much as you can for your future and retirement. Could it be that this isn’t what God wants?
What Does The Bible Say?
Whenever I’m curious about what God thinks, I turn to the Bible. My first thought was of the rich young man who came to Jesus (Matthew 19:16-22). He asked what he needed to do to gain eternal life, and when Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor, he went away sad instead of following Jesus.
Next, Jesus’ parable in Luke 12:16-20 came to mind. This is the one about the guy that was so prosperous that he tore down his barns to build bigger ones to accommodate all his wealth. His plan was to “have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” Jesus’ response was, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”
It seems like God really didn’t want these two men storing up wealth. But is that always the case?
Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children.” You can’t leave anything to your grandchildren if you aren’t saving for the future. In Proverbs 31, after discussing the wife of noble character and all of her hard work and entrepreneurial ventures, it says that “she can laugh at the days to come” (verse 25). I don’t think it’s far-fetched to think that her laughter comes from a lack of worry because she has already prepared financially for the days to come.
The Bible clearly doesn’t condemn wealth. God made some of his favorite people wealthy. Just look at Abraham, Job, Solomon, and Hezekiah. God gave them wealth as a blessing. Jesus didn’t seem to mind other people being wealthy either, such as Joseph of Arimathaea and Zacchaeus.
A Matter Of The Heart
So what was wrong with the young man in Matthew or the one who wanted bigger barns? Why didn’t Jesus want them to be financially prepared for the future?
I believe it was a matter of the heart. God gave great wealth to Abraham, Job, and the others, because he knew that it wouldn’t interfere with their relationship with him. He knew that they would recognize where the wealth came from and continue to put their trust in God, and not in the wealth.
Jesus asked the young man to sell his possessions because he knew that they had a hold on him. He knew that the man would never truly follow him as long as his wealth was still in his life. After all, you cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 16:24). His trust was in his money, but Jesus wanted to be first. To Jesus, it would be better to live in poverty than to allow money to steal your heart away from God. As Mark 8:36 says, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
My Personal Experience
God still wants the same from us today. Growing up, my mom worried a lot about money because she was a single mom with a lot of kids. Seeing this, I learned the importance of money and I learned to save a lot. I think I was putting too much of my trust in my savings because one day God asked me to give them up.
I was in college, so I didn’t have a lot in savings, but I know it was over a thousand dollars. One of my friends was starting a business and needed money to purchase some equipment. I felt God lead me to loan him the money without any expectation of ever seeing it again. That was hard for me, but I trusted God and obeyed. In return, God took care of me. I never faced financial difficulty, and my friend did eventually pay me back.
I am glad that I was able to learn my lesson when there was little at stake so he wouldn’t have to repeat it now when I have a lot more financial responsibilities. Now I have much more in savings than I did then, and I continue to accumulate for the future. However, I know that my money and my ability to earn and manage money all come from the Lord and he could take it away as easily as he has given it. And I’m okay with that. Because I know that he loves me and will take care of me no matter what. He may not give me everything that I want, but I’d much rather trust in Him than in myself or the stock market any day!
So, I say save aggressively for your future. You will need it. Don’t be lazy about saving and try to spiritualize it. But don’t let yourself lose focus on where your true security comes from either. If you feel that you may be trusting in your savings too much, hit pause to check yourself. And if you really feel God telling you to do something else with your savings, by all means, do it! He overrules my opinion any day.