After this Covid-19 virus passes, I hope we learn a few things.
Like the importance of saving. Proverbs 21:20 offers advice we cannot discard. The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down. According to Bankrate.com, more than one in five Americans don’t save any of their annual income. For those who do, twenty percent have put back only five percent or less of what they make. What would have happened if our government had not bailed us out? My widowed mother raised three of us on minimum wage. She believed in putting a little money away each month “for a rainy day.” The day she received her paycheck, she set aside her tithe. If she did not have enough money to purchase something, we went without, including a television and a car. We rented until she saved the cash to buy a home. She never had a credit card. Had this virus hit when we were young, we probably would have been much better off than some of my friends’ families…you know, the ones with the impressive homes, the Country Club memberships, and, oh yes, a huge amount of credit card debt.
I am grateful that we live in America where Uncle Sam is looking after us. My Hispanic friend from Mazatlán recently sent an email sharing that, since the Mexican government is doing NOTHING to bail out businesses or individuals, people are figuring out ways to help each other. She shared that fishermen catch fish and offer them to anyone who was hungry. Department stores host giveaways. “If you need something, take it; if you could donate something, leave it.” My friend ended with this: “By my place 3 days ago a lady was passing by, yelling, ‘Tamales, 2 per person for free.’ Senora Patty, this kind of things make my heart feel good.”
We in America could learn from our Southern neighbors.
Proverbs 6:6-8 encourages us to learn our saving habits from the lowly ant: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” The Bible has much to say about saving. For one, our money is not ours; it is God’s. In times such as this, how nice would it be to help our neighbors because we had “stored” some provisions and not lived above our means? Instead, I’ve met too many Americans who save only to relax when their working days are over. A leisurely “Retirement” becomes their payoff, yet even Jesus admonished the person whose goal was to save in order to have a comfy life instead of taking care of real needs as a thank-you for God’s provisions given to them.
In Luke 12: 16-21, Jesus shares a parable about a rich man who had so many crops, he tore down his barns and built bigger ones to store his grain and 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.”
Christians, saving for retirement should not be self-centered. It should be the time when we devote ourselves to serving others.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am grateful that we live in the United States where businesses can be saved and families can eat because of the bail-out. I just hope that when this virus is over, we all might rethink our financial priorities and learn from the lowly ant…the wise, working, lowly ant.