Portrait of a wacky man staring at dollar bill on white backgrou

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 Fool’s Day, not at any time.

The Bible uses that strong term only a handful of times in regard to the use of money.  Interestingly, it’s used 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 12:20-21 says it’s foolish to put too much emphasis on saving, telling the story of a farmer whose bumper crop left 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.”

Life has a way of revealing 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, from what I can tell, most of us have not been hoarding in the sense of saving more than we really need, but I wonder if our reactions to the ups and downs of our IRAs, 401(k) plans, or other investment accounts reveal something of a hoarder’s heart.  I wonder if perhaps one question God wants us to consider in light of the wild ride the stock market has been on in recent years, and in light of the continued global unrest, is whether we are putting too much of our hope for our future in our wealth (See 1 Timothy 6:17-19).

As challenging as our economic times have been of late, 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 wise to save and to invest knowledgeably.  And if we experience financial challenges, it’s natural to want to get through those tough times as quickly as possible.  But it would be nothing less than foolish to focus too much on the financial side of the life’s ledger, or 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 or investments too much?

Other stories about savings that you may be interested in include:

Why Two Savings Accounts Are Better Than One

Can’t Build Savings?  I Say, You Can

Superstar Savers Share Their Secrets

Once a month, I take a look at what the Bible has to say about money.  Here’s why.

If you haven’t done so already, please sign up for a free subscription to this blog.  Two or three times a week, you’ll receive ideas and encouragement for using money well.


3 Responses to Nobody’s Fool

  1. Jason April 3, 2011 at 4:17 PM #

    Great post Matt. You really know what you are talking about. I will be back soon to check out what else you got.

  2. Matt Bell April 1, 2011 at 3:26 PM #

    Mitch – Thanks for your note. It’s a balancing act, isn’t it? Ultimately, our trust is in God. And, we’re called to be wise stewards of all that has been entrusted to us. So, that does require that we make knowledgeable decisions about our finances.

    I share some of your concerns about our economy and world events (although I wouldn’t go quite as far), which is why I plan to interview some investment pros in the weeks ahead — both for the written version of this blog and also for some upcoming video segments. Stay tuned…

  3. Mitch April 1, 2011 at 2:51 PM #

    Wow, this hit me right between the eyse because I believe I have been dwelling too much on the “potential” catastrophe that is hanging over all of us. However, we wouldn’t be good stewards of the wisdom God gives us not to be educated in how financial systems work and invest accordingly to plan for possible disaster.

    I also feel that because of what the Federal Reserve has been able to do to artifically prop up the United States, that a financial armegeddon is about to hit the whole world extremely hard.

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