Should Christians Save or Invest?

The Bible clearly commands us to give. But is it ever okay to save our money or to invest it? Should we give our money away whenever we earn it and not have any savings?


"Dear Pastor Tim, I wanted to ask about the place of giving, saving, and investing for the Christian. The Bible obviously has a lot to say about giving, but I'm not so sure what the place of saving or investing is for the Christian. Is there any time it would be appropriate to save a large sum of money especially given Matthew 6:19?" Somebody open Matthew 6:19 so we know what she's talking about. This is the classic text on money as far as I'm concerned that our Lord has ever given. Matthew 6:19 - you can read that when you get there, anybody. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, where thieves break in and steal." Right. She says, "What about investing? Either in some type of business endeavor, property, or some other asset like a mutual fund? Is there ever a place for investing? How should we understand these things and use our money in light of Scripture as believers?" And I would just say this, when it comes to money, as it has to do with lots of aspects of the Christian life, our Lord didn't simply write - it's kind of like that divorce situation - do you know what the Lord doesn't say in Scripture is on purpose just as much as what He does say? There's all manner of things concerning divorce and remarriage that I could wish He said more about, but He doesn't. And He doesn't on purpose. Why? Because the Christian life isn't simply meant to be lived by a list of rules. We're to walk according to the Spirit. We have the Scriptures. We're to take those Scriptures, but we're to be a people who are prayerfully in the sight of God seeking to live and commune with Him. Let Scripture be - it's full of lots of guiding principles. But you hear even when Jesus says, okay, don't lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. You've got moths and rust and thieves. Rather, we're to lay up this treasure in heaven. Okay, but you notice there's no exact formula. It's not like, well, okay, give ten percent. There's not an exact formula. It's not: don't you remember Zacchaeus? He gave fifty percent! So that's it! Nope, none of that. Oh, if I've got an extra piece of land and I see somebody in the church - isn't that what they did? Or I've got two coins in my pocket, and they're taking the offering,.. See, none of those things are given as the exact example. You see the heart of Christians being expressed, but it's never identical. We're not meant to have an exact formula to live our Christian lives by. And it comes down to that with regards to money too. This principle laid down for us in Matthew 6:19 - what does that mean? Does that mean don't lay up for yourselves treasures here? Well, how big of a stockpile does it have to be before it's a treasure. He doesn't say. He doesn't say, well, when you get to where it's a thousand dollars or where it's 23% of your yearly annual income... He doesn't say anything like that. It's just this general principle. Even Jesus had a money bag, which means some reserves were in that bag for our necessities tomorrow. Laying up something is something even He did. I know Judas had the bag and Judas stole from it, but Judas doesn't negate the reality that they had a bag that they operated from. So, what is that? Could the bag be your wallet? Could the bag be your purse? Could the bag be your savings account? Could the bag be your mutual fund? Well, it could be. So, you know, it's not down to: Okay, mutual funds are sin for Christians. But I think we've got these principles in Scripture that we just need to think about. When it comes to saving, let's just think there. When it comes to reserves here, one of the things that our sister is saying is she says I'm kind of clear about the giving part, but I'm not so sure about the place of saving and investing. Now, over the years I've heard "the ant." Consider the ant, thou sluggard. Okay, I've heard that used as basically justification for stockpiling. But if you read the passage, is it really condoning stockpiling? Or is it condoning basically the diligence of the ant? And I would say it's the second. It's: you sluggard, you need to consider the ant. It's not: you who don't have sufficient stockpiles for tomorrow who need to consider the ant. It's the sluggard who needs to consider the ant. So, that being said, I would just ask all of you. If you let your mind just move back and forth especially through the New Testament, can you think of any place that even talks about laying up here on earth? Having some kind of reserves? Is there anything? James: I think of Paul telling the church to make sure they gather what they need to give for when he comes. Tim: But that's money that was heading out. Yeah, they're putting that together for the sake of it being gone; for giving it. I mean, really, the only thing I can think of in the New Testament is - there's several things (incomplete thought) - one is the money bag. (incomplete thought) This thinking that: well, Jesus said not to lay up treasure, and so, if I lay up the money for my mortgage, I'm doing what Jesus said not to do, so I better give it all away. And when the mortgage comes due, I'm just going to trust the Lord. That might not be wise. I mean, is there a place if you recognize that your vehicle is failing to begin to save up? Or even if you recognize your health is failing to begin to save up? Or if you recognize your health is failing to go get health insurance? Are those things wise? Or how about the principle that if you don't take care of your family you're worse than an unbeliever or worse than an infidel? Now, here's the thing, I'm the provider in this family - primary provider. Should I give thought to maybe what might happen if I were to die? I mean, if I'm going to be faithful to my family, I would think that providing for them would be wise and loving and consistent with that passage. Or how about this? Do you know what else you find there in 1 Timothy 5? You find that if you are the family member - a child or a grandchild or a believing woman who has somebody in your family who is a true widow, you're supposed to take care of them. Now, somebody could say, well, I could take care of them from the money that I'm making every week. It doesn't necessarily say that you have to have a savings from which to draw. Perhaps. But would you be wrong if you had that? I mean, what I find too is there were people that had property and they would liquidate that property as people had need. But would they have liquidated their property if there hadn't been the need? Or should we just assume there always is greater need than what our assets are and so liquidating them at any time... I find that the rich in 1 Timothy are not necessarily told to dump everything immediately. That the idea of having anything held in reserve is absolutely wrong and you just need to liquidate it all and get rid of it right now. What I find in 1 Timothy 6 is that the rich person is to be ready to do good; he's to be ready to meet need. You know what I find about Job? Job was a man - now I know I'm going to the Old Testament here and perhaps we can say that the New Testament has much more of a missional and a Great Commission kind of mindset. But I find that Job was the wealthiest man and he actually says that he searched out the cause of the needy. He was looking for opportunity to meet needs. And I think that's probably got more to do with it than anything. You know, what we're told is that we're stewards. Have you ever read - I know I've dealt with this some recently, but Luke 16. Turn to Luke 16. Look at this. Luke 16 is the parable of the unjust steward. And somebody read verse 9. "I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings." You know what? Your money's going to fail. And so we should be using it wisely right now. And if you go back a verse, read verse 8. "The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light." And some translations say "wiser." They're wiser in their own generation or they're more shrewd. I would say this, Christians, whatever you do with your money, whether you save it up - because here's the thing, I think the attitude that we have, if we're trying to be the best possible steward that we can, if suddenly we were to come into some money and we were to think - like I know that Scripture has some negative things to say about debt. But you know what, as a steward, I did not believe it was bad stewardship to get a mortgage for this house, because I believe that that was being wiser with my money than continuously renting. We were able to pay it off in six years and now it's paid for. So I believe that that's wiser. We each are stewards. And I would say this, we need to seek to not let the people of this world be wiser than us in what they do with what they have in accomplishing their purposes and their goals. And that's precisely what Jesus is saying, that as a whole, as a rule, and as a standard, the people that are lost out there do what they do better than we do what we do. That's not good. And He gives us the remedy. How? Make friends. You see, the unjust steward made friends. That's the whole point there. He made friends. He had a little bit of time. He was being removed from his stewardship. And what did he do? He took that time, he took those resources. He did what he could do to prepare for his future, and that's what Jesus is saying we should do. And so I would say this, whatever it is - and you know what? When He gets into v. 10, 11, and 12, He calls money, He calls riches "unrighteous mammon." It may not say that exactly in your translation, but that's basically in the original. That's what it's saying: unrighteous mammon. How does it say it in the NAS? "Unrighteous wealth." Unrighteous wealth. Is that the same way it is in the ESV? James: Sorry, that was the ESV. Tim: Okay, unrighteous wealth. Well, think about it. It's unrighteous wealth even when the Christian uses it. And I thought what a thing to say. And you know what verse jumps out at me when I hear that is the parable of the soils. And you have the third soil type and it's the one that gets choked. And what it says is they're choked by the deceitfulness of riches. Unrighteous mammon. The deceitfulness of riches. I thought about that. What's the danger? The danger is we're professing to be a Christian - money is a liar. What does it tell us? It tells us: stockpile me. You will need me when you get old. You'll need me when you get sick. You'll need me when you retire. You better depend on me. If you don't have me stored up, you think God's going to come through for you? You're going to end up being poor. You're going to end up being in the worst nursing home. You better trust me. You need me. You need lots of me. It tells us lies. It says, "hope in me." "I'll make you happy." "Trust in me." "I'll fulfill all your desires." You know what? In whatever we're doing, whether we decide to put it in a mutual fund or we decide to liquidate it all, we better not fall for its lies. We're stewards. Somebody read v. 10, 11, and 12 and just listen to the flow of those verses. "The one who is faithful with very little is also faithful in much, and one who dishonest with very little is also dishonest with much. If then, you have not been faithful with the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust you with true riches? And if you have not been faithful with that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?" It's parallels. That which is much over against that which is little. Well, let's say it the other way around. That which is little over against that which is much. Unrighteous mammon over against true riches. That which belongs to another over against that which is your own. You know what's very interesting? The money we have is that which is little. The money we have is unrighteous mammon. The money we have is not our own. We're stewards. And I would say this, God entrusts us, and if He gives us a great big amount of money, what we really need to do is we need to walk before Him and seek to live faithfully, because if I've got widows in my family and I determine I'm going to put some of this away, or I've got a family and I've got a bunch of young children, and all of a sudden, my health is bad, it's kind of sizing up the situation that God is bringing you into. You know Hudson Taylor. His wife - Hudson Taylor, missionary, China, 1800's - his wife was heiress to a large estate, and when she turned 25 years old, she received a massive inheritance. And Hudson Taylor's friends back in London, they told him: Hudson, invest this. You and your wife will draw considerable amount of money off of this. You'll be able to live out there on the foreign mission field, but you know what? They were driving deep into the interior of China right at that time. There was the progression there. He prayed for this many. I think they were actually where they were praying for a thousand missionaries. And he said present demands require all of it. And he liquidated all of it. I don't think he was wrong at all because of present need. You know, if you come into a sum of money, it's not just: oh, take Matthew 6:19, and oh, I better not store it up! You know what, if I suddenly came into a big inheritance, the first thing I would do is just park it in a bank account and I would go to serious prayer. Lord, You've given this to me. What do You want me to do with it? And I don't think you have to be hasty. But if all of a sudden, there's some massive need over here and it's got to do with making friends for yourself in the eternal dwellings, well, then jump on it! Why wouldn't you? If you fall for its deceitfulness, and it's like I think I need all new cars for my family, and I think I need to live in a nicer neighborhood, and I think I need this - look, you can move from one house to another. That doesn't mean that God may not have given you some of it so that you can enjoy His kindnesses in this world. But we all have to walk before the Lord. And I'll tell you, when you look at Scripture, you know what you find? You just see this heart. You see, what are the examples that tend to really get thrust at us? Zacchaeus - 50%. Of course, if he defrauded anybody, he was going to give four times as much. You have the widow. She threw in two mites. She threw in all she had. Those early Christians, they were selling their lands. You have the church of the Macedonians. You remember how they were in extreme poverty, and yet they're giving beyond even apostolic expectation to the poor in Jerusalem. That's the spirit of what we want to be. If a Christian is prayerfully seeking the Lord and they feel like they should buy, like if they came into a large sum of money, or all of a sudden they got a job where they were getting money and they decided to buy some homes and begin to rent those homes, I would not find fault with that. You want to know that you're doing what you really believe the Lord wants you to do. And you want to immerse yourself in these passages in Scripture. Because there's no exact rule. You don't see that. But I know this, those things are not your own. So those things need to be at God's disposal. I mean, immediately, any time He's calling for it, we need to be ready to do His bidding and do His will. You all know Luke 12. You know there's a fool in Scripture when it comes to money. And what was he doing? He was building bigger barnes. He was selfish. You know what Scripture says? He wasn't rich towards God. I would just say this, in whatever you do with the money, be rich towards God. And if one person says, okay, I've got this sum of money. I'm going to be rich towards God. I'm giving it all to this endeavor over here. There's a present need and I'm going to meet it. And another person takes this big lump sum of money, they invest it and now with what they're making from it they're pouring it into God's work. Which one did better? I'm not going to stand in judgment of that. We all stand or fall before the Lord, and if one thought to invest it - I know this, I know that if every single Christian gave away every single penny that they had right now, and then there was a need next week, where are the people to sell their land to meet the need? And where are the rich to be ready to meet like you have there in 1 Timothy 6? Kind of the idea is somebody's not giving away every single thing today. Somebody actually still has some reserves when a need arises tomorrow. Anything? James: 1 Timothy 6:17 is amazing. As for the rich in this present age, charge them, one, not to be haughty; two, not to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God. (unintelligible) Is my hope on these riches that could be stripped? And I guess, my question was he says charge them not to be haughty. But why is that one of the two things he's charging the rich with? Tim: Because rich people tend to be proud. (unintelligible) The Proverbs say that the rich man answers roughly. Why? Because he's not afraid he's going to lose his friends if he answers roughly, because people always want to be friends with the rich guy. Somebody's always chasing you. Somebody's always wanting social life with you. Somebody always wants you to be their friend if you've got money. I mean, people end up being cocky. Money brings power - at least in people's minds. It brings self-sufficiency. The poor are dependent on others and they need help, and the rich imagine they don't need that. I mean, obviously, as Christians we recognize this: We're all going to be accountable for what we've been given. And nobody has anything except what's been given to them by God. What you read right there in Luke 16 is it's not our own. And so, if one guy has several million dollars from his business or from inheritance, and somebody else doesn't have that, the reality is with both of them - it's not their own. And they're going to be called to account. That's the thing. What it says is there's a day when this unrighteous wealth is going to fail. And so we're to act now in light of when it fails. So we don't want to get into saying there's an exact formula. And we don't want to get into a place where we're judging one another over how it's used, but I know this, the Macedonians are set forth as an example. And Jesus Christ who was rich became poor that we might be made rich. And He is set forth as an example. This woman who threw in her two mites is an example. The early church, that they held everything in common for the sake of the needy among them - that's an example. The examples in Scripture are of being ready to meet needs where those needs show up. And how any Christian could have reserves and see a brother in need and not meet that - now, if it's a need - and you know, the thing is, if I'm the one that has the money, I actually am the steward that gets to make the decision whether your need is really a need. Now, I'll have to answer to the Lord for that, but I'm really in the position to be the one to determine that. Because sometimes people think they have needs when it's not really a need. Anything else to say about this? (from the room) I also thought of Hebrews 13:5. Tim: About? (from the room) The love of money and being content. Tim: Being content with such things as we have. But I guess, yeah, there's nothing about this necessarily that is indicating a discontent. (from the room) I was thinking more like the love of money - (unintelligible) Tim: Yeah, one of the things that we have to deal with when we're dealing with money is being honest about our motives before the Lord. That's really critical because we'll deceive ourselves. I mean, have you ever been in a place where much like those Jews, remember when they went to Jeremiah? And they said seek the Lord for us. Should we go to Egypt? What should we do? And he came to Him and the Lord told him they've already got their minds made up. They're going to Egypt. Tell them don't go to Egypt. You go down to Egypt, you're going to die. Have you ever been in the place it's like, Lord, I just want to do Your will. Show me. I am willing to go to the right or I'm willing to go to the left. And you might even think you're neutral, and the Lord says go to the left. And then all of sudden you feel like: Wait, I really didn't want to go that way. And suddenly you recognize, wow, have you ever been there where I really thought my motive was pure, but now that it's being tested, there's a check in my soul. Maybe nobody else ever experiences that, but I've been there before. I'm glad somebody has. (from the room) It's like when your wife asks you if you want her to wear the red dress or the blue dress and you say the blue one and she says I think I'll wear the red one. Tim: That would be a perfect example. But you know, with money, I've been tested with money. The Lord's really tested me on some things. It's taken a lot of pacing and prayer. Anything else? What time do we have?