Money can seem like a very unspiritual topic, especially when it comes to such practical financial activities as saving and investing. It can leave you wondering whether the Bible has anything to say about such topics. In fact, It does!
The overarching financial message of the Bible is that we are stewards, or managers, of the resources God has temporarily entrusted to our care. Therefore, everything we do with money, from paying the smallest expenses to buying insurance, matters. Every financial decision is a spiritual decision because it all belongs to God.
When it comes to saving and investing, here are three ways to look at those topics biblically.
1 – What does God’s Word teach?
As stewards of God’s resources, the Bible says that maintaining a reserve of savings is important.
“The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets” (Proverbs 21:20, TLB).
Saving a portion of all the money that flows into our lives makes sense as a practical matter. Life is filled with plenty of surprises, often expensive surprises that happen at the most inconvenient times. Having a reserve of savings will go a long way toward helping you handle such surprises without having to take on debt.
Saving money also makes sense as a spiritual matter since it’s something God’s Word explicitly teaches us to do, and following biblical teaching is a significant way that we show our love for God.
As for investing, while the Bible doesn’t guide us on how to choose between a traditional IRA and a Roth, it provides some important principles. For example, it says:
“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
Providing for our household is a lifelong responsibility, which includes our later years when we may not be working for pay anymore. While retirement, at least as our culture defines it, isn’t taught in the Bible, there will probably come a time when we are no longer working for pay.
For many of us, our health or the health of a loved one will require us to step away from paid work. For others, God may direct us toward more volunteer work. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with deciding to spend more time with our adult children and grandchildren in our later years.
If we’re going to provide for our family long term, we will probably need some money in an investment account that we can draw on when we are older.
2 – Motives Matter
As our savings and investment accounts grow, we may be tempted to look to such accounts for our security. To protect against that, we would be wise to remember the apostle Paul’s words recorded in 1 Timothy 6:17:
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
Similarly, while the Bible says it’s “foolish” not to save, God also called a man a “fool” for saving too much and then looking to his savings for his security (Luke 12:13-21).
So, where do we draw the line between adequate and excessive savings? The answer can’t be found on a spreadsheet. It’s a matter of the heart that can best be discerned through prayer and the accountability of a trusted friend.
3 – Methods Matter
The financial press is filled with headlines touting get-rich-quick schemes and stories of overnight success.
The Bible encourages a different approach, highlighting patience as a fruit of the spirit and teaching a more methodical approach to saving and investing:
“Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty” (Proverbs 21:5, TLB).
One way to implement that “steady plodding” approach is through dollar-cost averaging, where you invest a set amount every month. Many employers offer such automatic investing programs where they take a portion of each paycheck and deposit it in a 401(k) or similar retirement account. It may not make for a very exciting headline, but it should make for a healthy later life nest egg.
Saving and investing are expressions of good stewardship. So bathe both activities in prayer, asking God for the discipline to set aside portions of every paycheck for those purposes. Doing so will help you provide well for your family. And, saving and investing with biblical motives and methods will bring honor to God.
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Matt Bell is the author of Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management. He speaks at churches and conferences throughout the country and writes the MattAboutMoney blog.
This article should not be considered legal, tax, or financial advice. You may wish to consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual financial situation.