Saving can only occur if we have margin in our finances. Margin, not more income, will always be the most important component of any savings plan. While saving is a practical and biblical concept, there is always a risk that at some point our saving turns into hoarding.
1 Timothy 5:8 tells us that if we do not provide for our own household we are denying our faith. I believe this verse means that we need to carefully consider how much we need to provide the things God has called us to provide for our families. So, how much is enough? How much should we strive to accumulate when saving?
Looking further at 1 Timothy, we see that right after Paul tells Timothy to provide for his own household he tells him that all he needs is food and clothing to be content (6:8) and that he should not set his hope on the uncertainty of riches (6:17). This is interesting because we have a very strong command to provide followed by a very stern warning about the dangers of wealth. I don’t believe that Paul is condemning wealth, but I do believe he is making certain that Timothy understands that in providing for his family he does not shift his hope from God to his accumulated wealth.
This is the tight rope we all must consider. Saving is good, hoarding is dangerous. Randy Alcorn said it well,
Saving is a means of not presuming upon God. Hoarding is a means of replacing God.
So, I ask again, how much is enough?
I don’t believe we can answer that question until we have settled where our hope and treasure is. Is our hope in eternity or here on earth? Do we long for the trillions and trillions of years we will get to spend in eternity or do we live for the few decades we get to spend on earth?
Once these questions are settled, we begin to view ourselves as travelers on earth. A traveler is someone who is excited about the journey, plans for it, saves for it, and then lives it to the fullest, all the while longing for home.
Think of savings like a traveler in a foreign country thinks about foreign currency. The traveler carefully plans how much of the foreign currency he will need for his trip and tries to arrive at the airport with nothing left but loose change. How great a legacy and testimony it would be if we carefully considered the travel plans (and needs) of our family and then ordered our short stay on earth as an adventurous journey until we get to board our flight home.
Perhaps we can have the perspective of John Wesley,
I cannot help leaving my books behind me whenever my God calls me hence, but in every other respect my own hands will be my executors.
I want to encourage you to save and provide for your family, but only do so once you have planned your trip in anticipation of going home! Set your hope in eternity and not in your accumulation and I promise that you will enjoy your journey here so much more!
This post was written by guest-poster, Michael Blue. It originally appeared on the blog of the Ron Blue Institute. The author graciously reposted it here for the US expat readers of Vagabond Finances.