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Does Having a Savings Account Mean I Don’t Trust God?

savings account

Someone sent me this question:

I was asked a question about saving money. Can you help me answer it?

“And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21, ESV).

This was the question: “This passage makes me view savings in a negative light. I don’t know where I land on it but how is this passage true, yet saving money not against it? Is saving money not trusting that God will provide in the future?”

Here are the thoughts I shared in response:

In His parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16), Jesus warns against excessive savings, not against all savings. He also warns against loving money and placing our faith in money, and the presumption that our self-care and self-provision is worthy of our trust.

In the parable in Luke 12, the rich man foolishly failed to consider his mortality (God calls him not “you evil man,” but “you fool”). He didn’t understand that his earthly treasures would either be taken from him, or he would be taken from them. He’s guilty of presumption, and of not recognizing God’s complete power over his life, or his own powerlessness to preserve or extend his life.

Jesus says, “so is the one who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Clearly this parable calls for the followers of Jesus to obey Him by storing up treasures in Heaven, not on Earth.

But that doesn’t mean God forbids us to have anything of value on Earth. Indeed, in order for the rich man to own and tend a farm and herds, and have a roof over his head, or, in the case of Joseph and Jesus, to have wood and tools with which to do carpentry, keeping SOME treasures on Earth is necessary!

Scripture clearly calls us to give generously (see 1 Timothy 6:18-21), a call that few Christians seem to take to heart. Only in isolated cases does Jesus ask someone to give away everything. Yet, He didn’t tell Lazarus, Martha and Mary to give away all they owned. And in fact, He stayed at their estate which had enough room to house, feed, and take care of His whole band of disciples.

When Zacchaeus told Jesus he was going to sell what he had and give half to the poor (see Luke 19), Jesus did not say you shouldn’t give away half, you should give it all. He instead recognized that salvation had come to Zacchaeus’ heart and house, as demonstrated by his willingness to give away so much. We see no condemnation of Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and the women who had sufficient wealth to fund Jesus and the disciples.

I think it’s fair to assume that they had savings from which they drew for their giving as well as their living. Indeed, anyone who owns more than they need, which most people do, has assets they can liquidate in times of financial downturn. This is the equivalent of savings. If someone didn’t have a dime in the bank, but owned land, house, barn, plough, furniture, and farm animals, they could sell any of those assets to meet a need.