Motives can be as important as actions.
The Bible often emphasizes that our answers to the “why” questions are just as important as our answers to the “what” questions. Take giving, for example. Someone could ask you what are you giving? You might answer, “I’m giving x% of my income,” or “I tithe.”
Do you think the what question is all that matters?
What if we were to ask a follow up question – why are you giving? The person could say, “I’m giving because I’m trying to buy my way into heaven.” The why in this case is what needs to be addressed, not the what.
Last year I was listening to a radio interview on Crown Financial Ministries. During the interview, the young lady talked about how she saved because she was so scared. Scared to have nothing. Scared to be without. She realized that in her fear she was saving in a completely unhealthy way.
Perhaps, today we should each check our motives to see if we are saving for one of the following unhealthy motives.
Spiritually Unhealthy Motives To Save
While I promote the use of an emergency fund, I also recognize that an emergency fund is sometimes put in place to soothe our insecurities. Jesus prays that God will give us our daily bread, but the idea of waking up every morning to see what God will provide is petrifying. So we stock pile. We save. We collect. Just so we can feel safe. The reality is that if God can take care of us today in abundance (so we have enough to save), he certainly can provide our needs tomorrow.
A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper. (Proverbs 28:25 NIV)
2. Pride and Status
In our society, there is a certain stigma with the rich. We recognize them. Notice them. Honor them. And as a result, there can be a temptation to treat them better than the poor.
In the book of James, we see that in New Testament times people gave special attention to the wealthy.
Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” (James 2:2-3 NIV)
As a result, sometimes people save more than they need to be noticed, to be recognized, or to be honored. They thrive on the attention that comes from the status of wealth. God has been removed from the center of their lives, and like those who participated at the Tower of Babel, they seek only to make a name for themselves.
Associated with pride is greed. Greed is the love of accumulation without regard for anything or anyone else. Greed is a machine that destroys anything in its way to get what it wants. Some people are the modern day Silas Marner or Scrooge. They save to feed an inward beast called greed.
“Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!” (Psalm 52:7 NIV)
Fear is insecurity on steroids. Some people fear the idea of not having savings. This is typically because they have experienced some type of traumatic event. Perhaps they grew up in poverty. They may have endured an especially dark time in human history (The Great Depression), and they fear what will happen if they do not save. So they save everything they can because they are petrified of what might happen if they are ever found to be without.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)
What is a healthy motive to save?
In our society, I think there are a lot of habitual savers. Being a habitual saver is a great way to build your savings. However, we cannot completely turn off our mind when saving. Instead, we should at some point (annually?) take time to ask how much is enough. Most people have no idea when they have enough retirement savings. So they save and save and save. They save even when the calculator tells them the amount is sufficient. Since they’ve always saved, they will simply continue to do so. When savings becomes compulsively habitual, it may be spiritually unhealthy.
He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. … “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?’ (Luke 12:17-20 NIV)
Christians should save money for two basic reasons.
1. To avoid becoming a financial burden to the church. I believe the church has a call and a ministry to this world. That call includes a special focus on the poor. But, the church cannot reach out until those within the church are first provided for. As a result, we save to keep ourselves from being a burden to the church.
2. To actively participate in generous giving. Doesn’t it seem strange that you would save in order to give? However, until one’s own family is provided for, it is not right to move outwardly. With savings in place, the family has been provided for so you can now actively participate in Christian giving.
Ultimately, it is crucial that every Christian find the right saving balance.
Photo by xJasonRogersx.
This post is an edited version of an article I previously published at Christianpf.
What are the healthy reasons you save? Can you think of other unhealthy motives to save? Which reason do you think is the most common?