Save for retirement. Be financially secure. Work hard now so you can play later. I’ve been bombarded by these messages lately. There’s technically nothing wrong with them. In fact, it’s smart to save and have a long-term plan. So as I sit here and plan for my family’s future, I have to ask myself one question – where does God fit into all of this?
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While the Bible speaks often of the love for money, I once thought that it didn’t have much to say about savings, retirement, and financial security; but then I came across the following parable that Jesus told:
“A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” – Luke 12:16-21 (NLT)
Jesus told this parable in response to a young man’s question about dividing his father’s estate. I believe He responded this way because He knew the real issue was the man’s heart.
The man in Jesus’ parable was not a fool for making smart financial choices. He was a fool because his earthly wealth became His focus. It was his source of security. His earthly finances became his sole priority, so much so that he had completely neglected to store up any wealth in heaven.
He had become so self-reliant and confident in his own ability to take care of his future that he stopped relying on God.
Oddly enough, self-reliance is seen as a good thing in our culture. It’s a sign of maturity, intelligence, and motivation. God’s desire, however, is for us to be reliant on Him. He wants to be the one to take care of us and meet our needs. He wants to direct our paths and lead us towards an amazing future. He wants to be our everything – our reason for living.
Self-reliance leads to pride, and pride comes before a fall.
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. – James 4:13-17 (NLT, empahsis added)
The book of Proverbs is full of passages about saving, working hard, and not being in debt. God wants us to be good stewards of all He has blessed us with. At the same time, however, we have to be careful to find our security in God rather than wealth.
There is no such thing as financial security when it comes to earthly wealth. All it takes is one mishap or event and everything we work for in this life can be gone. Our only source of security is Jesus Christ.
So how do we experience true financial security? We make God our focus and accomplish all He has set out for us to do. We store up treasure in heaven every time we honor God by obeying Him, giving to those in need, spreading the Good News of Jesus, using our gifts and talents for Him, etc. As believers, we should strive to please God in all that we do.
We must make every effort to build our financial security in heaven, rather than on earth.
“Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” – Luke 12:33-34 (NLT)
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.