The Wisdom and Foolishness of Saving Money

“In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” – Proverbs 21:20

Three times during several recent financial workshops with college students I was asked a surprising and refreshing question: Does saving money reflect a lack of faith in God’s provision?  It was surprising because in 15 years of leading biblical money management workshops I’ve been asked the question maybe twice.  It was refreshing because it reveals a heart to put one’s faith ahead of one’s finances.

Using this month’s verse, I explained that the Bible says it’s wise to maintain a reserve.  But I also pointed to the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:17-21), which says putting too much focus on savings is foolish.  And that brings up a challenging question: How do we know when we’ve crossed the line between wise saving and foolish hoarding?  Here are a couple of questions to consider.

Are we trying to save as much as possible without having calculated an appropriate amount for our goals?

Are we obsessed with a specific savings goal because that’s the amount we’re certain will enable us to …(fill in the blank)?

The line between wise saving and foolish hoarding is not clearly marked.  One thing is certain, though: It is not drawn with numbers, but with the attitude of our heart.  As we save for our later years, our children’s tuition, or other goals, we would be wise to regularly ask ourselves whether our faith is truly centered on God or on the size of our savings and investment accounts.  Better yet, we’d be wise to ask God, utilizing King David’s humble prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart” (Psalm 139:23).

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