Nobody’s Fool

“Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?” – Proverbs 17:16

No one wants to be thought of as a fool – not on April first, not at any time.

The Bible uses that strong term only a handful of times in regard to the use of money—once to describe a person who saves too little and once to describe a person who saves too much.

Proverbs 21:20 says it’s foolish not to save: “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.”  And Luke 12 says it’s foolish to put too much emphasis on saving, telling the story of a farmer whose bumper crop leaves him focusing on how to store up his riches and take life easy: “But God said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night your life will be demanded from you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21).

The recession has revealed the folly of taking either approach.  If we haven’t saved enough, the ramifications are obvious.  Without an emergency fund, the loss of a job can easily lead to the rapid build up of debt.

As for the other extreme of hoarding, most of us have not been hoarding in the sense of saving more than we really need, but I wonder if our reactions to losses in our IRAs or 401(k) plans reveals something of a hoarder’s heart.  I wonder if perhaps one question God wants us to consider in light of our losses is whether we had been putting our hope in our wealth (See 1 Timothy 6:17-19).

As bad as the recession has been, I believe as strongly as ever in the promise that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

It’s natural to want to get through our tough times as quickly as possible.  But it would be nothing less than foolish to just grit our teeth and try to gut it out until things get better. We risk missing God’s purpose.  What is he saying to you about your savings habits or attitudes?  Have you been saving too little?  Have you been trusting in your savings too much?

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