Do you save? When you get money from whatever your particular source of income is, do you set aside a part–not for a car or house or something else specific, although you might certainly also choose to save for these, but simply as a financial backup for a rainy day?
“There is desirable treasure, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it.” (Proverbs 21:20)
People tend to trust in the prosperity of the economy–to develop an expectation that because things are good now they will always be–and the idea of putting away for a rainy day is all but forgotten. The young and healthy believe that because they can work now, they will always be able to do so; the employed cannot envision their jobs outsourced or their company moving. Yet, as many recent examples have illustrated, these things can and do happen.
Although there is no particular Biblical mandate that states, “Thou shalt save,” setting aside a portion of your income as reserve is wise. Proverbs 22:3 tells us, “A prudent man foresees evil [in this context, a rainy day] and hides himself [saves up an extra reserve] but the simple pass on and are punished.” Proverbs 21:20 reveals, “There is desirable treasure, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it.” The wise have more than enough (why?) because they do not spend everything they get. It is an incontrovertible fact of life that “you cannot eat your cake and have it too;” we cannot live at the most extravagant level our income allows and be financially secure. Either we will spend everything we get, or we will voluntarily choose to live at a lower standard of living and be prepared for the various times there will be a need we didn’t anticipate.
Our family has not suffered unusual financial reverses or hardships–to the contrary, we are probably quite typical–yet these are some of the unanticipated drains on our resources that have occurred during our almost twenty-seven years of marriage, and are an excellent example of why it is wise to not spend all:
-The roof leaked in the dining room of our still rather new home after a particularly harsh winter;
-The roof leaked in our upstairs bedroom;
-The dining room roof leaked again;
-Our furnace broke multiple times;
-Our hot water heater broke multiple times and had to be replaced several times;
-Our son was involved in an ATV accident, which required seven emergency room visits and four hospitalizations;
-Our daughter fell out of her tree house during the excitement of a birthday party;
-My husband was hospitalized with pneumonia because he kept working instead of going to the doctor;
-I hemorrhaged repeatedly after delivering our third child, which required several emergency room visits and two hospitalizations.
Life is unpredictable and living more modestly now in order to be able to provide for future financial setbacks is simply common sense, yet far too many people begin life with the attitude of spending all on self and fail to set aside for what is inevitable. But, is there any other reason besides personal financial security why we should live off of less than we actually make?
Ephesians 4:28 tells us, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” While we may not be former thieves, the point is that we are to have enough from honest labor not only to meet our own expenses, but also to have a reserve from which we might help those less fortunate than us. This we cannot do if we are existing at the highest level of living our incomes allow and every cent is promised elsewhere.
So, while there may be no immediate gratification for doing so and it will certainly cost us in terms of our present standard of living, setting something aside for the inevitable rainy days is Biblically wise.
Help us not be greedy and foolishly spend everything we have living as nicely as we possibly can in the present. Rather, help us be wise and set aside a portion of our money for both our own inevitable and unexpected needs which will come up, and to share with those less fortunate. Amen.