Friday, July 4, 2008

Dolla Dolla Bills

I am currently involved in a Good Sense training course. It has been a very eye opening learning experience thus far. I’ve been convicted about the way I handle the money God gives me and further inspired to change the way I toy with it. Along those lines I have been recently torn over the issue of saving, creating a large savings account. Now there is a difference between saving and hoarding.

I looked up two definitions of what saving means and this is what I got:

1. Recovery or preservation from loss or danger
2. The activity of protecting something from loss or danger

Now doesn’t this seem like we are protecting ourselves from future financial problems or danger? If that is the case then wouldn’t it be created out of a sense of worry, worry about the future? This is the way I have always looked at saving. So now that I am in this class learning about handling God’s money more to honor him the idea of savings has become a part of my normal thought process. But the problem with that is everyone saves, even the world and those who don’t know Jesus save. But what are they saving for? To pass on wealth to another generation, create a good cushion for a posh retirement, or have a good sum of money just in case something happens. Doesn’t this seem like it has to do a lot with us? I’m not saying saving is a bad thing, but I’m questioning if it is just something we are doping because it seems smart of because there is a biblical principle about it… The main concern I have with it all is this, the bible tells us not to worry about tomorrow or how we will even clothe ourselves, but to trust in God for everything, even the future. So if that is true, which it is because it is God’s word, wouldn’t saving be a small form of putting out marbles in the bag of humanity, putting out trust in the amount of money we can save up just in case, kind of like providing a plan B?

The passage I am referring to is Matthew 6:19-34, Jesus is teaching the disciples and says this,

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:19-34, NIV).

So I guess my suggestion is not to through the baby out with the bath water, not to disregard savings totally, but to be leery of saving under the same discipline that the rest of the world does. Forget retirement plans, Jesus knows the beginning and end and can provide plenty for us. This is a hard pill to swallow because it flies in the face of everything we are taught under our American culture. But Jesus doesn’t call us to make Him a part of our world, He calls us to make Him our world. We are to be change into His likeness, not the other way around. So pay your bills on time, give to your local church, support missionaries, provide for your family, but don’t be excessive. Excess is a direct effect of sin. I think anyone with excessive amounts of money who is a follower of Christ and has been changed by His unfailing love should give away any excess they have. That’s a bit weird sounding, but it looks a little bit more like the early church (Acts 2) than our large savings accounts and huge salaries that we only give 10% of away.

I’m not offering a solution here; I’m offering a little tension between the way we think and what the bible says. Just because an American church teaches something doesn’t mean it is right, we should all wrestle with what Scripture says. I do support responsibility with God’s resources He allows us to use. So may you use God’s money the way He wants you to, not the way you want to. May you not hoard your money, creating store houses, may you support His work in the world, may you always look at that green paper as His possessions, not ours.

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