When it comes to saving money, how much is too much?
Believers live with the tension of an awareness of the imminent return of the Lord over against the responsibility for daily life. Scripture is clear as to the responsibility of a husband and father to care for his family (1Ti 5:8). It is equally clear as to our stewardship with material things (Luk 16:1-13). The stewardship of our money is a very serious responsibility, considering the needs of the work of God and the needs of believers; but providing for our own families and our futures is just as serious.
The teaching of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 6:24-34 does not negate planning for the future; the stress is on prioritizing the Kingdom and not allowing the material to become a distraction.
But none of these points answers the question. Financial advisors, including Christian organizations, counsel for a family to have the equivalent of three months’ salary saved for emergencies. These emergencies would include unexpected job losses, protracted illness and similar major catastrophes. Certainly, saving for specific purchases which need to be made or for special occasions (weddings, vacations, university) is reasonable. In Proverbs 24:27 a man is told to be sure he has the financial ability to begin his “house” (i.e., family). Some would counter that it is better to trust in the Lord than in your savings account. I would certainly honor such convictions. Others would say that since the Lord has made the money available now for the future, He is providing the means for the potential emergency.
Then there is retirement. Reality dictates some forethought for these years, especially with increased longevity and the costs associated with end-of-life needs. It is not a negative reflection on any federal government to say that the retirement plans of the USA and Canada do not provide enough monies upon which a couple can live during their retirement years. Many companies provide additional pension plans for employees, but such plans have been known to evaporate through corporate mismanagement or wrongdoing. Individual retirement accounts are a reasonable alternative. Scriptures which advocate looking to the future, such as Proverbs 22:3 and 27:12, may seem like a “reach” in interpretation for some, but they do underline a principle of looking ahead and preparing.
But how much saving is too much saving? As human beings, one of our greatest cravings is security; many find it in material wealth. The believer who recognizes that the money he has received in his life has come from the Lord will seek, in the fear of God, to balance wise stewardship in the present with a similar wisdom preparing for the future. To amass money simply to feel impregnable to life’s many vicissitudes is to make money my god. As others have noted, money is a good servant but a cruel god.
Ultimately, the answer to this question must be worked out by each believer in the presence of God. One believer cannot dictate to another believer in an area of personal conscience before the Lord.