Part 8: Savings, Section A.

I’ve struggled with where to put “savings” in this list of financial priorities. In some ways, I wanted to put it immediately after Government. One reason is that by the time you think of everything you can think of that might be “essential,” you probably will have nothing left for the other four subsequent priorities. Plus, savings is a lot like God and Government – you can apply a simple percentage to your gross income and get a number that can be subtracted to get a net for the remainder. So I am taking a chance putting Savings after Essential Needs.

We need to see that Essential Needs need to be just that – essential, so that all that God intends for us to do with the resources he gives us may be accomplished. Let me give you an example of some inessential needs that people think may be essential and thus crowd-out other priorities. A lot of people will try to get Cable TV up into their Essential Needs. Or a sporting outing, or a second or third car, and so forth. For all the priorities to work properly, you can’t do that. Essential should be just that – absolutely essential. I can testify one can live well without cable TV – we’ve never spent a dime on cable and to this day have no access to it. I guess I save $600 a year or even more by not having cable. So don’t expect me to be sympathetic to including it before you do the savings calculation.

Now, let’s talk about savings. I’m actually going to change the game on you mid-stream, and from now on talk about Investing instead of Savings. The reason is simple. Jesus actually takes a dim view on putting money in a vault, but a very positive view on investing. Surprised? What follows is my biblical take on the issue.

Let’s start with a key text out of Deuteronomy 28, verses 11-12: “The LORD will increase in more than goodly measure the fruit of your womb, the offspring of your livestock, and the produce of your soil, in the land which he swore to your fathers he would give you. The LORD will open up for you his rich treasure house of the heavens, to give your land rain in due season, blessing all your undertakings, so that you will lend to many nations and borrow from none.”

There are two important points here for understanding God’s broad intent for His Covenant people. The first is that He is the one increasing what we have – that is, it is not really us. Everything we get, we owe to God. That’s why in our giving, we are just returning back to Him what he has given us. But more importantly for this module, note His intention to increase what we work with – to make it grow. We invest our time, labor and money in our family, our jobs, our business, and HE MAKES THEM GROW!

In Matthew, chapter 25, Jesus describes the behaviors of the three men to whom their master had given varying amounts of money. Upon the master’s return, he discovered two of the servants had used the money they had received to double their money. The third had gained nothing; he had “hid the money in the earth,” and only had what he had originally received.

No doubt the primary emphasis of Jesus’ story is to emphasize the spiritual increase that he expects from those who follow God’s way, but the terms Jesus uses serve perfectly to emphasize the point we see in the Old Testament: God is about increase.

Great increase we call wealth, and we need to remember that “it is the LORD, your God, who gives you the power to acquire wealth, by fulfilling, as he has now done, the covenant which he swore to your fathers.” (Deut 8:18). Wealth, or great supply, is a normal sign of God acting in our realm covenantially.

One of the ways God fulfills His promise is by giving us resources and allowing us to enter into this process of increase. I think that is exactly what we see in the parable of the three servants.

Let me say all of this another way: God intends to allow each one of us to have more at our disposal than meeting the first three priorities I have outlined (God, Taxes and Essential Needs). In fact, it appears to be His intention to allow us to gain more than we need. Please think about that for a moment. As Deuteronomy declares, He wants to “make us the head and not the tail.” I say “Thank God!”

But there are several reasons for this, and one of the most often mentioned is to meet the needs of others, because whether because of their own missteps, or natural catastrophes, difficulties come to all. Deut 15: 7-8 charges the people of God that “if one of your kinsmen in any community is in need in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor close your hand to him in his need. Instead, you shall open your hand to him and freely lend him enough to meet his need.” Well, there is no way to freely “lend” unless we have a supply greater than the first three priorities. God’s people use God’s increase to meet the “pressing needs” that often arise and that the Apostle Paul talks about. Please do not miss this point!

This is a long way of saying that we need to take some of what we are given and lay it aside to invest it for more difficult times that may arise. Proverbs counsels us in chapter 13:11, “He who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

So, how do we do that? The next section, still a part of this module, will give you a simple outline.

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