Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve wondered about something.
When is it a good idea to save and store away items for the future?
In the Old Testament, Joseph knew a famine was coming so he had grain stored in Egypt to help people.
The book of Proverbs talks about the ant, storing provisions in the summer and gathering food at harvest.
That’s a good thing, right?
But when does storing up become hoarding?
I got some answers when listening to a sermon by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, who recently finished a series called “A Faith that Works When Life Doesn’t.”
Rick cites some points:
God doesn’t oppose wealth. He opposes greed.
- Several Bible-times people, including Abraham and David, both ancestors of Jesus, were wealthy. So were Job and also Joseph, after he became second in command in Egypt.
Money is a tool to be used, not a thing to be hoarded
- . Many people mistakenly say money is the root of all evil.
But the Bible verse actually says: “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Notice the word “love.”
Money is just a tool. Rick says we must love people and use money not the other way around.
“If you love money, you will use people,” Rick says.
There’s a big difference between saving and hoarding.
- People hoard out of fear for security, Rick says.
“Hoarding is based on a scarcity mentality,” Rick says. “Saving is based on a stewardship mentality.
If we live with a scarcity mentality — that God’s not going to keep his promises to take care of us — then we’ll lack the faith to be generous with what the Lord has given us.
And to be generous with people in need.
God repeatedly promises that if we give generously, it will be given back to us even more generously, Rick says.
This reminds me of Jesus who said:
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Rick cites Hebrews 13:5, noting that people often quote the last part of this verse.
Yet miss the first part.
The entire verse says: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with whatever you have, because God has said, ‘I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.’”
“What are you trusting in for your future financial security?” Rick asks. “Are you trusting in your possessions or God’s presence?
I think it’s easier to feel more secure when we have a savings account than when we have $2 in the bank.
But we all know wealth can be lost, so it’s vital to trust God. He’s our true source, not the bank account.
Rick brings up another point.
“Because of your scarcity mentality, you will never think you have enough.”
He talks about a millionaire who said he’d still need to have about $10 million more to feel secure.
I don’t think Rick is telling us to be foolish with money. Instead, we shouldn’t be so scared about the future that we aren’t generous with those in need.
As the Apostle Paul wrote, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
Rick also says people hoard, because it’s the way they show their success.
Forbes magazine posts an annual list of the 400 richest people in the world.
It kept people from giving any of their money away, because they’d go down on the list, Rick says.
Then Forbes started listing the most generous people in the world.
“All of a sudden, there was another way to keep score and many of the wealthiest people in the world all switched to the top of the other list,” he says.
Rick talks about saving, too, not primarily for security — because God is our security — and not for status.
So why save?
He lists three reasons.
To practice self-control.
- It’s a spiritual discipline against self-indulgence.
When we learn to live on less than what we make to tithe (give the first 10 percent of our earnings to God) and save, we’re practicing self-control, strengthening our character and building wisdom.
He cites John D. Rockefeller, said to be one of the richest men who ever lived, who’s credited with saying he tithed 10 percent, saved 10 percent and lived off 80 percent.
Rick mentions Proverbs 21:20 which says, “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.”
To get money working for you.
- Rick cites the importance of investing money. “Any money you save and invest is making money for you,” he says.
I’m sure he also would advise to invest wisely.
To be able to give to others.
- Rick mentions Ephesians 4:28, which begins by saying people must not steal. Then it says how Christians, “…must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”
I also like the verse: “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)
During uncertain times, we may want to stockpile stuff.
But Rick reminds us that “Whatever I accumulate will deteriorate.”
I don’t think he’s saying we shouldn’t have some extra soup on hand.
Personally, I try to buy extra supplies like toothpaste, soap and shampoo before winter so I’m not driving through snow to get to the grocery store.
I don’t think it hurts to have things like rock salt for your sidewalks, light bulbs, postage stamps, batteries or pain reliever like aspirin. I have a flashlight, too, in case the power goes out at night during a storm.
But I’m sure Rick doesn’t want us to buy out the store’s toilet paper supply.
“Don’t put your hope in your possessions,” Rick says. “You can lose those. Everything on this planet can be taken from you except one thing — your relationship with Jesus. He is the key to security in your life.”
Rick tells how we can start that relationship, which someone also shared with me years ago.
I was a teen when a man told me that I could go to heaven if I believed Jesus died on the cross and rose again for my sins, asked Christ to forgive me of my sins and asked him to come into my heart.
After that, I began a journey of striving to know God better and serve him.
Has life always gone smoothly?
No, but I can see where God has blessed and guided me. He’s helped me through rough times and given me peace.
Life with him is so much better with him than it ever would have been without him.
We live in uncertain times, but as Rick says: “You don’t need to know what the future holds, you need to know who holds the future.”