When it comes to money, as Christians we might be tempted to write it all off to that saying, “money is the root of all evil”. After all, that saying itself comes from the Bible (1 Timothy) and warns us against the obsession with money. But even within the Bible, money has it’s proper uses, and one of them is saving it.
This is not the wanton saving of money in order to build an ever larger pile for its own sake, nor is it an attempt to build treasures here on Earth. But the Bible teaches us to be ready for what ever happens, and a big part of that preparation is with savings.
What does the Bible teach about saving for a rainy day?
”Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” – Proverbs 6:-6-8
This verse is both powerful and effective in convincing us of the need to save money, but like all Bible verses there are several things happening at once.
Saving involves sacrifice
Notice the passage uses the term “sluggard?” Maybe that’s a bit of a harsh word, but then again maybe it isn’t.
Sluggard means “lazy” or “inactive”, and the verse implies that such an attitude might exist when it comes to saving money. The implication is that we may need to do something more, something beyond ordinary if we are to save—the business-as-usual attitude won’t cut it. Translation: saving money requires active participation. It’s not something carried out by sluggards!
To put that into practical perspective it means:
- We may have to work a little bit harder in order to have money to save
- We may have to reduce current consumption to free up money to save
- We need to have a plan of action to save and a willingness to carry it through
- We need to accept that life today may not be as pleasant while we prepare for an uncertain future
Saving is a natural process
The same verse that uses sluggard also recommends looking to the ant for direction. Ants, as we know, are constantly moving, constantly working, constantly storing up. It’s that storing up process—or saving in our world—that enables the ant to survive. Ants are not alone in storing either. Most animals that have the capacity to save do. Rodents do it (think “squirreling away”), as do many birds. We can even say that many mammals “save” by overeating in summer in order to build up fat storage for the winter months when food is scarce.
Saving then is a part of the natural process. In reality, certainly in the human realm, it’s very much a survival skill. Ever notice how people who have relatively little income or unstable occupations are able to survive all the uncertainty? It’s possible if you’re a devoted saver.
There’s a need to save “in season”
The passage specifically references ”stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest”, and I think this may be the most relevant part of the passage.
As human beings, we’re not nearly as dependent on the seasons as animals are, yet we have “seasons” of life, that are longer and often deeper in scope than seasonal weather shifts. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 outlines this clearly, as do so many other passages and verses throughout the Bible.
Good times turn to bad, and bad times turn to good, but the takeaway is acknowledging the changes and preparing for them. In the human world, we do this by saving money. The time to do this is “in-season”, when our incomes are strong and our obligations are low, that way when “winter” comes—when life isn’t so good—we’ll have the benefit of all that we stored up from a better season.
We can think of this as playing out over various season cycles. In the near term, the cycle might include saving money in season against the possibility of a job loss—like building up an emergency fund. Over the long-term, this would involve saving money in season (during our working years) for the “winter of life”—old age and retirement.
The Bible teaches us about such seasons and tells us to prepare for them. We can think of that as scripture telling us to save for a rainy day.
How your savings can be a blessing
Moving beyond Proverbs 6, your savings can be a blessing in so many ways.
- By enabling you to take care of yourself in a time of trouble you’re not being a burden to others
- Having savings enables you to help others who are in a difficult time
- When you have savings you aren’t living paycheck-to-paycheck and will find it easier to be more generous
- Savings are a tangible way to reduce worry—and worry is one of our biggest false idols
- Having extra money saved can enable and embolden you to do more mission work, knowing that you’ll be in good shape even if the mission work costs you some time, money and income
- It’s always easier to be a good steward of your money when you have at least a little more of it than you need
Money itself isn’t the root of all evil—it’s the love of money that is. We can have it and use as long as we see it as a tool and not as something to be worshipped. Properly used, such as when we save for a rainy day, is just such a tool as well as a blessing. At a minimum, we can save for a rainy day and know that we’re doing the right thing.
After all—that’s what the Bible teaches us.
Have you ever had any sense of a conflict between your faith and saving money?