What Does the Bible Teach About Saving Money?

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This post is a continuation of my Faith Foundations Series.  I’m attempting to lay out my foundational beliefs to help you know what makes this a Christian blog.  Currently I am addressing what does the Bible say about … questions.  Last week we addressed the question what does the Bible say about work?  As a reminder, for simplicity I am keeping my comments to a maximum of one page Word document.

In the Bible there are passages that seem to indicate that saving money is a good thing, while there are others that apparently frown on the concept of saving money.

Bible Passages that Seem to Indicate Saving Money Is Wrong

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! (Luke 12:24, NIV)

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV)

Or Consider the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21.

Bible Verses that Support the Concept of Saving Money

Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. (Proverbs 13:11 NIV)

“In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” (Proverbs 21:20, NIV)

A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. (Proverbs 13:22 NIV)

Should Christians Save Money Or Not?

The question is not to save or not to save.  Nor is it to give or not to give. 

Both giving and saving should be practiced at the same time. 

Those who save and do not give exemplify attributes of a hoarder.  Saving in excess is a sign of greed, lack of trust, and a love of money.

Finding the Right Saving Balance

We will all find ourselves somewhere on the spectrum below:

_______________________________________________________________________

Squander                                    Save                                                   Hoard

Each of the above choices (squander, save, or hoard) reveal something about our character:

One who squanders lacks self-control.

One who saves has self-control.

One who hoards has greed.

Which of these qualities are spiritual? (Gal. 5:16-26).

 

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Each Christian must prayerfully find the right saving balance.  Squandering our money does not honor God.  Hoarding our money dishonors God.  We must find the right – God pleasing – balance of saving.

To read a more detailed analysis of this topic, I suggest you read Is it Biblical to save for Retirement? and Part Two

Photo by alamosbasement.

Do you think Christians should save money?  How do you know when you’ve crossed over the line from saving to hoarding?

Comments

  1. jarthurford says

    Looking toward our saving, spending and hoarding tendencies is a good spiritual exercise that will help us decide where our hearts really are. While we like to think that if our heart is in the right place, our money will follow it. Jesus seems to put it the other way around in Matt. 6:21 when he says that where our money (treasure) is there our heart will also be.

    • Craig says

      @jarthurford
      I completely agree – self evaluating our tenancy towards hoarding is a spiritual discipline. More often than not I find that I am closer to hoarding than I would care to admit.

  2. Cedric D'Hue says

    Hello Craig,

    I saw the title and was intrigued. I enjoyed the majority of the article and agree with your conclusion that we should give and save at the same time. I do disagree with you on your characterization of “Biblical Passages that Indicate Saving Money is Wrong.” You cite Luke 12:24 but take the passage out of context. Luke 12:22-23 states:
    22Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. This passage is about worrying about your life, not whether saving money is wrong or not.
    You cite Matthew 6:19-21 which I read to say where we should save, instead of whether or not to save.
    I do not seek to chastize you but to seek to use this opportunity to sharpen us and to thoroughly equip us for every good work. A good book on biblical observation, interpretation, and application for teachers is Living By The Book, by Hendricks & Hendricks.

    Be Blessed,
    Cedric

    • Craig says

      Cedric,
      Thanks for you comment.
      First, you did catch a mistake I made. I wrote “Biblical Passages that Indicate Saving Money is Wrong”. Shortly after I published the article I corrected so it says “Biblical Passages that Seem to Indicated Saving Money is Wrong”. I was trying to give a balanced introduction to both sides of the issue. If I didn’t mention those passages I think someone else would have (who things saving money is wrong).
      If figured my conclusion would speak for itself to show that I don’t think saving is wrong, but hoarding is often the issue.
      As your correctly pointed out these passages are often taken out of context. Not just their own immediate context, but the context of the larger Biblical narrative. I limited my response to one page so I couldn’t go into everything fully.
      Thanks for keeping me on the ball :).

  3. says

    I think we’re OK saving money as believers. Luke 12:24 was about worry, not specifically about money. My thought is that if we have a reasonable amount of savings, we’ll worry less, and that can only put us on the right path. I think the problems here get into too much savings, where we start to believe that our money is our savior, and we worry about losing it, pulling us away from God. Worry is a form of worship, even though we don’t usually think of it that way. What ever consumes us is a false god.

    Matthew 6:19-21 is more about the worship of money. It may also have been a teaching of comfort for a people who didn’t have money, but might have believed that having it could save them. I think Jesus may have been telling them to let go of that idea and not bank on it for salvation, they could have salvation without it. We have to remember that the culture of the day believed the haves were blessed, and the poor were out of luck. Jesus was nothing if he wasn’t counter-intuitive, and that’s what he may have been going for here.
    .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Fast Track to Frequent Flyer Miles =-.

    • Craig says

      @Kevin
      As per my response to Cedric, one of the things I was trying to highlight was ‘views from the other side’. As you’ve indicated there is a lot more going on in these passages. Thanks for helping clarify things.
      Worshiping money does not honor God. Now if only we could know when we cross the line and start to worship money …

  4. says

    I believe that it is definitely Biblical to save as is indicated in some of the verses cited in this article. Others have already commented on how the other verses cited don’t actually oppose saving when read in context. Many Bible verses could be sited about giving as well. I like to remember that everything I have has been given to me by God and that I am dependent on Him for everything. This perspective can be helpful in giving to God of our first fruits and keeping the love of money at bay. More Christian money matters are discussed on my blog at http://www.christiansaving.com.

  5. Kenny says

    Hello,
    Thanks for the intertesting article. I often wonder though about teachings on savings though. I have always been taught by my parents, and the church to save and it seems to make logical sense as I approach it with a modern western materialistic mind, but then I wonder if I am missing something from the character of Christ.

    First, I noticed that the 3 most convincing passages were quoted from the old testament, and all from the same book. I do however agree with another comment that the Luke and other new testament passages may have been slightly taken out of context and I might even agree with an interpretation more favorable towards saving, but I am undecided.

    I have no agenda, I do save and feel most secure saving, but I take concern with a few statements such as “with a reasonable savings, we will worry less and therefore it will put us on the right path.” For a number of reasons I think this is false. #1 People who have money in the bank are usually worried about protecting it at all costs, and #2 It seems to contradict the passages in Luke that states that God loves us dearly and will supply all of our needs.

    I agree, squandering and hoarding are both negative things, but I have often wondered if I shouldn’t live in the following way. Be a wise steward, prayerful and careful of how I spend every dollar, and then if I have a surplus, maybe I should be giving more at the beginning or end of month/year/week to further the gospel and help my brother. Then, and only then it would seem that I am truly free and trusting God and not the dollar to sustain my family and I. Not that I should tempt him, but that I should trust him in what he has provided. Many of us save for bigger “stuff” or for rainy day security, but I have a hard time seeing the true good in this….Would Jesus open a bank account?

    • says

      Kenny,
      Great questions. I love the way you are thinking and trying to develop your own biblically based assumptions. I pray that God leads you as you explore this topic.
      I’ll start from the end and work my way forward.
      Would Jesus open a bank account?
      I’d say most certainly. He had the modern day equivalent called a moneybag. Judas was the one he designated as his treasurer and accountant.
      People who have money in the bank are usually more worried about protecting it at all costs. That may or may not be true, but it might also be assuming the worst in people. I’d like to believe that I don’t spend my time worrying about my bank account and protecting it at all costs.
      God will protect our needs
      We must remember the context of Luke. I believe the passages of provision apply to those who follow the missionary call of Jesus Christ. They are people who are nervous about leaving their gardens and their family to follow Jesus. It’s not like you can get a job anywhere. Thus, they are forced to depend on fellow Christians to provide their needs. That can be scary and Jesus reminds his disciples not to worry. That said, if you decide not to save money and give it all away instead I believe God will provide for you, but I don’t think God is calling all Christians everywhere to do that.
      In 1 Tim. 5:8 the word for provide has an element of foresight. In other words we must ensure the provision of our families (today and tomorrow).

      • Kenny says

        Thanks for responding to my questions. I will continue to give this prayer and thought. Maybe it is just me a “some” others that seemed to become consumed with their money in the bank…I guess I see so many worrying about the economy, jobs, the president, darkness in the world, the antichrist, etc. and it seems often that many of us Christians are spending more time preparing for our future in this world, than our future in the next. Jesus tells us to “watch and pray”. That’s not to say that I am predicting Jesus’ return…this has been done SO many times, but as we see the birth pains increasing and Jesus’ return in the sky growing nearer, it seems that we could put our money to better use. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Money is practical, but it has on it the face of our presidents’ past, and it belongs ultimately to government. Putting it to use as often as possible as the time grows ever nearer seems to make more sense to me. I cannot take it with me and from experience I have seen many save money for news houses, better cars, toys, etc. As far as a college fund, why not trust and teach our children to work hard for scholarships and then all the saving is not necessary (I would even argue some of the tuition, room and board is even excess).

        I’m not saying there is no place for having a few extra dollars, but I just still haven’t found a good, clear picture from the scriptures that we should save thousands and thousands, 10% a month, or any certain large amount of money. I guess the biggest thing is it seems like trusting God with our money and with our children would be two of the biggest areas to trust God in our lives and yet in some ways saving (especially large amounts) seems to go completely against trusting. Didn’t the New Testament church in ACTS bring together all their goods and share freely, truly possessing nothing? Have we not traveled a long way in the wrong direction from that in modern western civilization with so many wants now being considered needs? And, how many pastors would tell their congregation to trust the Lord by tithing even when they weren’t going to make ends meet that month without divine intervention, yet at the same time in a sense contradict that sort of trusting (for future provision) by stressing the importance of saving? Surely God will honor the heart that freely receives and freely gives…

        I really do appreciate it, and I don’t completely disagree, but I still have so many questions…Am I completely missing the boat?

        • says

          Kenny,
          Keep asking your questions because I think that will help you find the right answer.
          My statement regarding bank accounts was to emphasize the fact that we can see actions, but not judge motivations. Too often we focus on evaluating what others are doing with money when we could be asking how God want us to answer our call.

          If you decided to give away everything you earn (because you believe God is calling you to that) then God will take care of you. There are some who do not save because they use it in wild and wasteful living (Prodical Son). That only shows a lack of self-control.

          As far as the NT, there were wealthy people who were members of the churches and not all gave everything. Luke 18 the Rich Young Ruler was asked to give 100 %, but in the next chapter (19) the Wee Little Man gave away 50% and Jesus was satisfied.
          Pricilla and Aquilla seemed to be people of wealth. They had a home that they owned and hosted a church. They had the means to travel to and from Rome.

          The underlying question you seem to be asking is does saving for myself mean that I no longer trust in God to provide. Unfortunately, that question would take too long to answer here. Perhaps I’ll address it in a blog post.

  6. emma says

    God rightly put it to us that “we shall be the lender and not the borrower” is when you have enough savings ( left overs). I believe the word of God on saving is personal, depend on your calling and direction from God. The parable of the five wise virgin at (Matthew 25:1-13) of course, reminds us that we should have extra saving in case of unforeseen expenses. “don’t be mindful of tomorrow” doesn’t mean we should be like that of other five foolish virgins. Jacob was able to prepare the food faster, and receive blessing from Isaac before Esau could get back from hunting, because he had savings in herd. The truth here is, we should put God first even in our saving habits.

    • harmony says

      The parable of the five wise virgin : Maybe here Jesus talks about forthought so we may have, so we can share with others when they come to us in need?

  7. Robert Nyarko, Apam-Ghana says

    Thanks for the education. I have the task of making a presentation to the youth of my church here in Ghana on savings and investment and I found your article and the subsequent comments very helpful and insightful.

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