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Sound Mind Investing

Published since 1990, Sound Mind Investing is America's premier Christian financial newsletter.  Learn more about Christian investing and finances at the SMI Web site.


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The Difference Between Saving and Hoarding

Matthew Pryor of Sound Mind Investing

The Bible twice mentions the work ethic of the lowly ant (Proverbs 6:6-8 and Proverbs 30:25) — how it prepares for the future, storing up provisions for a later time. Preparing for the future is a good thing.

But as Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, used to say, "Your biggest strength can also be your biggest weakness." And believe it or not, this can be true of focusing on the future. You can over-do it and end up not enjoying life today.

Do you know someone who counts the cost of everything (ahem!... not that you could ever be one of those people)? I know people like that, and I believe their hearts are in the right place in that they're trying to be good stewards of God's money. But they can also zap some fun out of life. How?

- By guilting you with a barrage of questions about what you paid for something;

- By mooching off of you because they don't want the expense of paying for something themselves;

- By denying themselves a side of sour cream for their Burrito Inferno because of the 35-cent upcharge.

Ecclesiastes 5:12 says, "... the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep." Is that because he's too busy worrying about his wealth? Verse 13 goes on to say, "I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner."

Not surprisingly, Scripture offers a solution for the hoarder. 1 Timothy 6:17 begins this way:

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain...

If our confidence and security are in our bank account, we'll never be satisfied. (This same sentiment is in Ecclesiastes 5:10). People whose hope is in money are never satisfied; they live uneasy and restless lives.

The middle part of 1 Timothy 6:17 says, "...but to put their hope in God..." Whenever our hope is in something other than God, we'll inevitably be disappointed. So in that sense, money is no different than power, looks, status, IQ, athleticism, job, fame, and so on.

But my favorite part of the verse is the last part, when it concludes:

"...who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."

Wow! How liberating, especially for the hoarder. God wants you and me to enjoy whatever material blessings He's given us, whether big or small. This isn't to say that we should ignore the principles of the ant. And it certainly doesn't negate the need to give God the first fruits and to manage wisely what He's entrusted to us. In fact, this verse alone makes me want to increase my giving and improve my stewardship, if for no other reason than to show appreciation for his loving kindness in wanting me to enjoy his blessings.

Collectively, these verses tell me that being prudent by saving for the future and enjoying material blessings today are not mutually exclusive. So as long as my hope is in God and I am a faithful and generous steward, I'll have no trouble enjoying that side of sour cream.

Sound Mind Investing. Sound Mind Investing exists to help individuals understand and apply biblically-based principles for making spending and investing decisions in order that their future financial security would be strengthened, and their giving to worldwide missionary efforts for the cause of Christ would accelerate. In other words, we want to help you have more so that you can give more.

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