Proverb About Saving For a Rainy Day

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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.

  1. By enabling you to take care of yourself in a time of trouble you’re not being a burden to others
  2. Having savings enables you to help others who are in a difficult time
  3. When you have savings you aren’t living paycheck-to-paycheck and will find it easier to be more generous
  4. Savings are a tangible way to reduce worry—and worry is one of our biggest false idols
  5. 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
  6. 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?

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1 Joseph Lalonde

I’ve always been a saver so I can’t say it’s really conflicted with my faith until recently.

There’s times I think I rely more on my savings than I do my faith in God. It makes me complacent and feel like I’ve done something right rather than being blessed by God. Does that make sense?

2 Kevin Mercadante

Hi Joseph–I think I understand. I think it’s one of those biblical ironies, that by doing the biblical thing, you end up in a better place where you feel less vulnerable to the uncertainties of life. That can make us feel as if we’re not as reliant on God. But we’re still reliant on him for our health and safety and for that of our loved ones, for our salavation, for the balance of the world to sustain us, and on and on.

Savings just minimize one kind of vulnerability, but they can also allow us to be a blessing to others. If we bless others with our money, we’re being stewards and not worshipping money. There will always be tension when it comes to money and the believer, and I’m guessing that’s the way it was meant to be.

3 Jennifer Stauth

I agree that the love of anything over God is going to cause problems. Thanks for the clarification of the Timothy verse at the end of your article. Ecc 6:10 even says that money is the answer to everything! And I’m sure it is in a worldly system. Thanks for sharing your journey!

4 Kevin Mercadante

Hi Jennifer–I don’t know that it’s a journey as much as a revelation!

5 Will A Carpenter

I have found myself at the opposite end of this spectrum in my distant past. My high paying job had reduced my hours drastically and the immediate rush of anxiety and sense of pride brought forth in me a person that I will never allow myself to become again.

I resorted to playing poker on borrowed money, borrowing from people that aren’t very lenient with missed payments. I never gave them a chance to be upset, fortunately.

What I truly learned is to believe in myself, that I can and will accomplish anything that I out that much heart, focus, and determination into.

Now that goal is to stay ahead instead of stop my head from slipping under the waves, but my resolve is the same, and the rewards greater.

6 Kevin Mercadante

Congratulations on escaping that trap.

7 Charles

Saving and fighting the temptation to spend are not easy. They require a lot of patience, discipline and dedication, traits that we need to have. Though saving can be challenging, it offers both self-fulfillment and long-term benefits.

8 Kevin Mercadante

Hi Charles–That’s so true. The hardest part of saving money is in the beginning when it’s all sacrifice and no benefit. But after a while, when you have a decent amount of money saved, those benefits begin kicking in. Some are subtle, like sleeping better at night. Other times it can make you feel good to be able to help someone out of a jam, rather than being the one who needs the help.

9 John

I like the idea about saving in season. There are many seasons in life (pregnancy, facing layoff, medical emergencies, etc.) where people should stop their financial plan and save up money! So important! Thanks for the article!

10 Kevin Mercadante

Hi John–The in “season” concept is the reality of life, and the Bible confirms this. I think that often in the finance & investment realms we may be guilty of painting too simple a picture of investing. Because of variations in investment return, the availablity of funds to invest and personal circumstances, the ability to invest consistently isn’t always a straight line. There are zigzags–those are the seasons. We shouldn’t think of them as abnormal, but we do have to find constructive ways to work around them all the same.

11 Mari

Hi. Do I save while paying off a debt or do I pay off the debt before I continue to save? If I should do both, what is the % I apply to each? Say my debt is at a 3.5% interest and we know that savings today barely earn .01%.
Thanks in advance for your advise/comment. Lord bless you!

12 Kevin Mercadante

Hi Mari–It really depends on your overall personal financial situation. If you have no savings at all, I’d build that up first, at least until you have enough money to cover at least 30 days living expenses. That will keep you from using credit in an emergency. After that you can concentrate on paying off your debt.

I see what you’re saying about interest rates, but my thinking is that liquidity is more important than interest rates. Having savings gives you that liquidity without having to rely on debt.

13 eva

I am thankful that my parents have taught me how to save. It isn’t easy to give up some of the things I would like to have, but having money saved is so much better than any of that stuff! I have my emergency fund and am now working on saving for a car and for retirement.

14 Matt Jabs

Eva, you rock! Never stop progressing on your current path. Hard times WILL come up; just make sure you make the responsible decision rather than the emotional one. Always stick with your WRITTEN budget, always spend less than you earn. It’s a recipe for success. Blessings.

15 Kevin Mercadante

I can’t say it any better than that!

16 eva

Thanks guys! I earn less than $100 a month so I just use a simple envelope system – and it took me a long time to save up $1,000! By learning solid financial principles now (and there’s so much that I don’t understand) I hope to avoid some of the problems that so many face like credit card and student loan debt.

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