Does a Big Emergency Fund Contradict the Idea of Walking By Faith?

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I’ve been struggling with the question posed in the title.

In 2011, I decided that I would save whatever money I made from working online as a missional entrepreneur.


In 2012, I knew that we would be moving and changing jobs, and I thought a larger emergency fund would be prudent in light of the transition we’d be making. Furthermore, even though our supporting churches had agreed to provide us with six months worth of funding when we left PNG, we decided that we didn’t want to be dependent on the church for something we could provide for ourselves during that transition.

It sounded like a wise idea at the time.

In the last quarter of 2011, I read Money, Possessions, and Eternity and began to wonder if the larger emergency fund wasn’t just a lack of faith.

It’s something I’ve thought about, prayed about, and struggled with for a few months, but I’m starting to feel some clarity on the topic, so I decided to share what I’ve learned.

Analogy: The Faith Required During a Move

Preparing for our international move has been a faith building exercise. We didn’t know when to start to sell the house. We were worried about how long it would take to find a buyer.

When we officially listed the house, we had two buyers outbidding each other within a week.

What a blessing.

We then found out that the paperwork and mortgage process (for the buyer) was going to take much longer than anticipated. Possibly even months after we planned to leave.

Fortunately, we’ve been blessed to see that everything is being processed quickly. We only have one last step to complete before we move, and it will come down to the wire.

What a faith building experience this has been!

Then it struck me.

People don’t move to build faith – even though it does. People move when God calls them to move.

It reminded me of the story of Abraham. What if he decided, on his own initiative, to go and sacrifice Isaac. I doubt he would be the Father of Faith, but instead, the Foolish Tester.

To put ourselves in tenuous positions without the call of God is an act of testing, not an act of faith.

I’ve decided to keep my larger emergency fund simply because I don’t yet feel moved or called (or whatever word you want to use) to use that money in another way at this moment.

  • Perhaps God knows with all the ways we’re already being asked to trust him, we’re already sufficiently developing our spiritual muscles.
  • Perhaps God has a future need for these funds, and he wants us to wait until that need.
  • Perhaps God wants me to continue to be able to do Transforming Your Financial Diet Workshops free of charge, and this is the way he is enabling that.

I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that ‘stepping out on faith’ by your own initiative is called testing God. Responding to God’s call is called acting by faith.


  1. says

    I am not sure what you mean by a Big Emergency Fund. Are you asking if you should give this money toward ministry as opposed to investing the money you received from selling your house? I don’t think God tells us we shouldn’t make investments.

    • says

      Thanks for the feedback. Allow me to clarify a few things about the post.
      First, I’m not discussing what I’ll be doing with the money from selling my house. I already know what I’m going to do with that – buy a house. Instead, it was a decision I made to save income for a transition.
      Second, the discussing isn’t about investing or not investing, but instead about exploring the questions – when does it get to a point that you can have too much emergency fund? Do we sometimes have an emergency fund just so we can feel safe in that instead of in God?
      I do agree that there is nothing inherently wrong with investing.
      I hope that makes the discussion a little clearer.

  2. says

    I’ve wondered the same thing. You know…build a 6 month emergency fund in unforeseen circumstances – does that constitute a lack of faith on my part? All those verses about God caring for the birds and the lilies – does that mean I shouldn’t prepare to provide for my family in the event of some unknown? I can’t wait to see what others think as well.

  3. Roger says

    Like alot of things there needs to be balance. Thesselonians tells us that we should as much as possible look after our financial affairs and not be a burden on others. Even Paul the great missionary had a second job! Looking after your family/others needs is a witness to God’s provision, having a lifetstyle of leaning on govt welfare, church handouts or other welfare is not. Of course anyone can fall on hard times and grace/wisdom needs to be shown.

    Testing God in faith / life decisions is a tricky one, I think its unwise to go out alone, better still, have decisions confirmed/supported by other Godly people.

    On the other hand being obsessed with maintaining/building your emergency/investment funds can also be a trap if this leads you away from relying and trusting on God.

    I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer, I think God leads us in differents ways and paths. The best analogy I have read is that God gives you bread and seed, you eat the bread (your needs) and you plant/give away the seed (charity, missions, church etc). You shouldn’t throw/give away the bread and try and eat the seed.

    • says

      I completely agree. In fact, I think that is what I’ve learned through the process. The call of God on each person’s finances can be very different. There are certainly different financial expectations put on different individuals in the Bible.

  4. David J says

    Thanks for writing this, Craig. I read Money, Possessions, and Eternity in December and it rocked my world too. This question is one that conflicted with what most financial advisors would suggest, yet the call to faith resonated so deeply with me regarding what should set Christians apart from secular advice.

    I really respect your conclusion on this and I agree with it. The only thing I wish you had made more explicit is the inherent temptation then of hanging onto that emergency fund when needs do arise and you do begin to feel called. I know money can have a gravitiational pull if we’re not careful. How willing are you/we willing to part with it once we have it?

    God bless,

    • says

      Thanks for bringing up the discussion of the temptation to hang onto it. It does exist.
      I bet the rich young ruler would have said he was willing to part with it when necessary, but when it came to the situation he didn’t.
      Perhaps many of us read the story of Abraham and say we would sacrifice our own son, but when the situation comes we wouldn’t.
      In the time between now and when the time does come our biggest responsibility is to deepen our relationship with Christ so we will know and have the guidance to respond in faith.

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