FIRST-PERSON: Pondering whether saving is just another word for hoarding
GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP)--Some Christians think that when a person saves funds, he or she eliminates the need to live by faith, and they conclude that saving is just another word for hoarding.
But there is definitely a difference between saving and hoarding. Actually, saving involves faith, but hoarding eliminates faith. So ask God for the wisdom to understand the difference and the willingness to be willing to honor him by handling your money biblically.
Go ask an ant?
In Proverbs 6:6-8, the ant is given as a good example of saving. "Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provision in the harvest."
Somehow, within the ant colony, God has designed ants so that they are able to calculate very accurately what they'll need to get through the winter; then they gather and store that amount during the summer and autumn.
That's a good description of "saving": looking forward to a future need and then putting aside whatever is necessary to meet that upcoming requirement so you won't have to borrow.
Attitude versus amount
The difference between saving and hoarding is attitude, not amount. In our society today, when we measure what we're putting aside against the biblical standard, there's no doubt that we could conclude that many of us are hoarding.
A serious question that American Christians need to ask themselves is "How much is enough?" Many Christians have bought into the world's mindset concerning finances and have ignored God's clear biblical principles.
As believers, God commands us to "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). The way we handle resources should reveal our trust in God. Even our American currency reminds us that it should be "In God we trust" and not in the currency on which that statement is printed.
But we're not ants
We're not ants, so where do we place our savings? Before answering the "where" question, you should determine 1) the specific purpose for saving the money and 2) the sort of risk level you can handle. And it's important to understand that although there are certain similarities between savings and investments there are also great differences. But we won't go into that, because we're talking about savings.
-- A savings account might be the safest place to store surplus funds but it yields the lowest interest rate.
-- Certificates of deposit (CDs) yield a slightly higher rate than savings accounts. CDs and Treasury notes are two of the safest investment vehicles, but they also return relatively low yields.
-- Money market funds may provide somewhat higher returns than either CDs or savings accounts. There are small risks involved with money market accounts. However, as long as they are with a strong company the risk should be minimal.
Always keep in mind that the higher the return on your savings, the greater the risk. Consider that if you'll need all or part of the money soon, a savings or money market account might be best, because CDs could tie up your money for at least 90 days and there are early withdrawal penalties.
Plan with purpose
Don't save just for the sake of saving something; have a plan and save with purpose.
Also, you'll want to prayerfully think about designating some of your surplus money for helping someone in need in your church.
Yes, there is a difference between saving and hoarding. Saving involves faith because it represents good stewardship, but hoarding eliminates faith in God and ignores faithful stewardship.
Remember, pray and ask God for the wisdom to handle the provision he has given you. And, be sure your savings have a purpose that reflects biblical stewardship and that you're not hoarding.
Burkett is chairman of the board of Crown Ministries, which merged last fall with the ministry he founded in 1976, Christian Financial Concepts. A Southern Baptist layman based in Gainesville, Ga., Burkett is the host of the national "Money Matters" radio program and author of two resources published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention: "How Much Is Enough? 30 Days to Personal Revival" and "Jesus on Money."