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TEXT: Proverbs 13:22
SUBJECT: Money Matters #5: Saving
A few weeks ago, we began a study called Money Matters. I chose the words carefully, because it does-money matters to God. It matters to Him-not because He loves money-but because He loves us. And few things in life will affect us more than money-for better or worse.
Used wisely, money promotes the happiness of the human race and the salvation of the Elect. Used badly, it breeds unhappiness and it hinders the Gospel.
When it comes to our money, we need to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. In other words, we need to use the Lord's money the Lord's way. This doesn't mean you use your money in exactly the same way I use mine. For, though the principles of God's Word are the same for all, how they apply differ from person to person. What you can buy lawfully, maybe I cannot. How much I need to save may be more than how much you need to save. Thus, we have to be careful of legalism-of going beyond the teaching of God's Word and making up rules for other people
God's rule over your money is total, absolute, and unqualified. He wants you to obey and glorify Him in making, spending, and giving your money away.
Thus far, we've looked at the first two in some detail, and hinted at the other one. But there's something I left out. People over sixty know what I mean, but the omission isn't so glaring to younger people.
What did I leave out? Apart from making, spending, and giving, what does the Lord want you to do with your money?
He wants you to.save it.
Before we get to that, let me clear up a matter of major confusion. The word, Save, is used in two different ways. If you go to a store, you'll see the word plastered all over the place! The flat-screen television goes for $3,000. But--this weekend only--you can have it for $1795-and save a whopping $1205!
Wow! What a good deal. Honey, I saved over a thousand dollars today!
But did I? If I did, why don't I go to the bank and deposit it? If I tried to, the teller would either laugh or blush, call the manager or sound the alarm! Saving money on things is not saving money, but spending it. Maybe you spend less than you would have otherwise, but you're still spending your money and not saving it.
By "saving your money", I mean not spending it. You might spend it later, but for now, you're holding on to it. That's what I mean by saving.
Our Bible reading today was Proverbs 13. Its 22nd verse doesn't command saving or forbid it, but it throws light on the morality of saving your money-or not.
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.
It draws a contrast between the good man and the sinner. The former takes care of his money in such a way that he leaves some for his kids and their kids. The sinner, on the other hand, spends every dime he makes, and he and his family have nothing. What happens to the money? The good people end up with it.
Let me illustrate with a story about three sinners and a saint.
Bob spends all of his money at Muhammad's Liquor Store. Muhammand spends all of his money at Chaim's Jewelry Shop. Chaim spends all of his money at Gunther's BMW lot. But Gunther saves his money and he and his family enjoy it for many years to come. Bob's money, Muhammad's money, and Chaim's money all end up in the pockets of Gunther, his son Wolfgang, his son, Helmut, and his son, Jose!
I have chosen liquor, jewelry, and BMWs for effect. I know most of our spending does not go for them, but for things like food, clothing and shelter. But the fact remains: spending less than you make is better than spending all you make--or more than you make. Saving your money is good!
If you're a miser, saving your money is fun, and spending your money is not. But most of us are not misers. We find spending it a lot of fun and saving it no fun at all! But the question before us is not which one is more fun? It's which one is wiser-or, more to the point-which one better glorifies the Lord? Is it better to spend everything you make-as soon as you make it--or to put some away for the future?
As far as I know, the Bible does not give a direct answer, but this is not to say that it gives no answer at all. It does. The Lord wants you to save your money. How much will differ from person to person, depending on many factors. But saving is for everyone who can possibly do it.
The Bible commands us to take care of ourselves. II Thessalonians 3:12 tells us to work with our own hands and to eat our own bread. This cannot be limited to the present, but it has to be projected into the future. You know very well that heavy expenses may occur unexpectedly. You know you might lose your job. You know you might become sick and that, if you live long enough, you'll have to retire.
How are you going to live if and when these things happen? There are only two choices: you'll live on your savings or you'll live off other people. Do you want to let others pay your way? It may be necessary. But is it what you want? People of my parents' generation lived in fear of becoming a burden to their children. And that's why they didn't!
Instead of spending every dime they made, the did without and laid up for the future. Most of these dear people grew up dirt poor-especially in the South. But they knew how to work and they knew how to save and they sent their kids to college and they still pay when we go out to eat!
There is no shame in letting your family take care of you. But why make them do it if they don't have to? If you don't save, they'll have to! And if not your family, the church might have to, and if not the church, strangers.
If the Lord wants us to take care of ourselves, He wants us to save our money.
The Bible commands us to help people. Ephesians 4:28 says we're to work so that we may have something to give him who has need. I believe most Christians are very generous. If they could help the needy, they would. But they can't help the poor because they've got no money. But why don't they have any money? Because they don't save. If they put some away, they could do more than want to help others; they could help others.
If the Lord wants us to help others, we've got to have something to help them with. And that means saving.
The Bible commands us to support the church, missions, and other Kingdom work. For the first time ever, the sheiks of Saudi Arabia will let in Christian missionaries. Several Arabic-speaking men volunteer for the great work. But, because of the oil, the cost of living is sky high and the missionaries cannot support themselves. And I want to support them! My hearts burns to help them. But, all I have are the seven dollars in my wallet. I can give that, and the Lord can bless it mightily. But what if I had been saving for the last thirty years? I'd have some real money to support missions. But I don't, because every day of my adult life, I have chosen spending over saving. I have chosen the present over the future and myself over others.
This kind of opening doesn't occur every day. And we need to be ready for it when it does. If our calling is to support missions instead of going ourselves, we can only do that by saving our money.
If you go to Switzerland, you won't find many fat men. Do you know why? Because every able-bodied man under sixty is in the army. Unlike preachers and others, soldiers have to stay in shape, because they have to be ready for war at all times. What would happen if every Swiss man started gulping down their famous chocolate? When the war bell rang, nobody would answer. Because they didn't prepare.
Mission battles are lost because we're not in shape financially. Because we haven't saved our nickels and dimes, great opportunities are missed. God will save His people from their sins-yes He will! But He will use means. One of which is our money, if we'll save it for Him.
The Bible commands foresight and self-control. Most people think saving is good, but they don't plan for it. And, even if they do plan for it, they spend too much for the plan to succeed.
If you think ahead and control your spending, you'll be able to save some. Maybe not much. But more than you do now. And more than nothing-that's for sure.
Some Christians don't like saving because-to their way of thinking-it is the opposite of trusting God.
In some cases, it is. Paul warns the rich to not trust in uncertain riches, but in the Living God who gives us all things freely to enjoy. If you are saving for the purpose of not needing God any more, you're guilty of an awful sin!
Saving can be the opposite of faith, but it doesn't have to be. For what is saving but planning for the future? And God doesn't forbid that! No, what He forbids is leaving Him out of your plans!
Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit. Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow'.Instead, you ought to say 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this and that'.All such boasting is evil.
The objection proves too much. For it all planning is wrong, then it's wrong to do nearly anything. What if the preacher chose to "trust God" rather than prepare his sermon? What if the lifeguard decided to "trust God" rather than learn how to swim? What if you chose to "trust God" for your needs instead of going to work?
Faith and planning do not contradict each other.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way,
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Do you want to save your money? Not to be a miser, of course, but to be a responsible Christian? If you do, you've got to do more than want to. You've got to do something about it.
First of all, you've got to repent of the sins that keep you from saving. Poverty is not a sin. But some poverty is the result of sin-underline the word, some. Covetousness, discontentment, pride, envy, and other bad things keep us from saving our money. Insofar as they do, they have to be repented of. Not just because they keep us from saving, but because they displease the Lord.
In the second place, you've got to think about what you do with your money. Last week, I told you that a lot of our money is gone without us having any idea where it went. Until we know what we did with it, we can't redirect it into savings.
In the third place, you've got to think about the future. The Lord says, O that they were wise, that they would consider their latter end! If they would but realize where their sins were leading them, they would turn from them. If we could foresee where our spending habits would put us in the end, we would change them-and fast.
In the fourth place, you've got to plan to save. Saving doesn't happen all by itself. If you don't plan to save, you won't save. So, start planning. If you know what to do, do it. If you don't, talk to someone who does.
Finally, you've got to pray. We have not because we ask not. Except the Lord build the house they labor in vain who build it. Put together, the two verses mean that only God can bless your money and that He does it in answer to prayer. But remember, it's not only prayer, but also wisdom, self-control, and obedience.
Let's start saving our money! Not so we can horde it or trust it, but so we'll have it when we need it. When we need it for ourselves and when others need it.
God give us the grace to do it. For Christ's sake. Amen.
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