I talk a lot about the importance of having an emergency fund and how it is a necessary ingredient to a sound financial plan. But, I thought we should step back and ask the necessary question, “Would Jesus have an emergency fund?”
In trying to answer this question, the first verse that came to mind was Proverbs 27:12 (NLT) “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”
The whole purpose of having an emergency fund is to be prepared for when the inevitable “trials of life” hit. Christians are not exempt of these trials and struggles that seem to pop up unexpectedly.
This reminds me of the parable of the foolish virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. From what I can tell, the foolish virgins brought enough oil for their lamps had the bridegroom showed up on time. Well the bridegroom was probably playing football with some friends and showed up a little late. (And he didn’t even call to say he was going to be late!!)
What separated the foolish from the wise was their preparation for the unexpected. The virgins forever known as foolish, didn’t plan for the unexpected by bringing extra oil. Those who were labeled wise brought extra oil in preparation for the unexpected.
Jesus knew the balance of what part He played and what He should rely on God to do. We have a part to play, but it is foolish of us to think higher of ourselves than we ought and think that we have a more important role than we actually do. Ultimately God is the one who supplies all of our needs (Philippians 4:19).
But Jesus also said “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6.
I get convicted by this verse when I have a temptation to think that if I can save enough money, I can insulate myself from any and all problems; thus not needing God. I have to fight against the tendency to trust in myself and depend on my abilities rather than God. The truth is that we can never make enough smart financial decisions or do enough things right that we will not need Him. He designed it that way. We are imperfect beings who are dependent on God.
So, as far as Jesus’ emergency fund goes, if He were walking the earth today, I think He would have one, but He would still trust God for His daily bread (Matthew 6:11).
There are a bunch more verses that would point to suggest yes or no to the question, so I would love to hear what your take on Jesus’ emergency fund is in the comments below…
Mrs. Micah says
I wonder about this sometimes. But I completely agree with you about the 2nd point, that Jesus wouldn’t see the emergency fund as something that could protect him from all catastrophes. And that he taught against having faith in money or investments.
The Saving Freak says
It depends on who you think Jesus is. If you think he is God then he would not need an emergency fund because he would know what was going to happen and could change anything to his liking. If he was only human then he would have an emergency fund out of wisdom, planning for the unknown.
Jesus isn’t God. think of it like this 1 (jesus) x 1 (the father) x 1 (the holy spirit) = 1 (God) 1 x 1 x 1 = 1 the one are separate but are distinct, yet they are still 1. Jesus is the son of God, the word made to flesh and is also God, but he is not the father and his is not the holy spirit. If Jesus was the father at creation, then whose right hand is sitting at now, who spoke to him from Heaven and did not the holy spirit descend upon him at his baptism, revealing God as three distinct personalities in a triune God!
Lynnae @ Being Frugal says
Excellent post, and I do believe you’re right. I think Jesus would have had an emergency fund, but he wouldn’t put his trust in it. Jesus wouldn’t want to go into debt in the event of a financial emergency, and he would also know that nobody is immune to financial problems.
On the other hand, he wouldn’t put his faith in the emergency fund. I think Jesus’ view would be that it’s prudent to be prepared, but ultimately God is in control and you need to rely on Him to sustain you.
As a Christian, I trust that God will not send me more trials than I can bear, and that he will provide for me. That does NOT absolve me of responsibility of taking care of myself and my family. He has provided the means for me to accumulate an emergency fund, and as you quote “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.“
Great comments everyone!!
I was wondering where they came from!! 😉
Maybe Jesus could just ask his Dad for money if he needed it? 😉
Liked your post, added you to my bloglog.
ROFL. That is just tooo funny.
Just a few thoughts…
In Matthew, Christ is clearly talking to “Pharisees” who put their trust in “things” and not in God. Our faith, whether we are wealthy or poor, should always be in Christ. That being said, some of the great blessings that we have been given, as human beings, are the abilities to work, plan, and prepare.
(Remember when Christ sent the Disciples to get the colt, so that he could ride it into Jerusalem. To me, this is clear evidence that “He had a plan” – He had resources, in place, to be used at a time of need.)
Would Jesus really need one? I mean, he is Jesus after all. The rest of us, sure…but Jesus? 🙂
Great article & a topic I don’t see mentioned very often. I think that moderation and perspective are the key. It’s wise to save & be prepared, but keep in mind that God is still in charge of ALL things & ALL situations. No amount of money in the bank should take away your reliance on Him. It’s really about balance & faith. If you have $50K in savings and die tomorrow, do you think God is more likely to say “Awesome- glad you were prepared for any emergency” or “Lot of good that money does you know, too bad you didn’t give it to missions or give it to church or use it while you were on earth to do my will.”
At some level it’s about personal conviction and what you feel is right for you to save, without hording or squandering “investment opportunities” in the kingdom. The Randy Alcorn book- God, Possessions & Eternity has some great info on things like this.
No way Jesus would have an emergency fund. Even though he was fully man, he was also fully God. So he knew what the future held and has the the entire universe at His disposal.
But us? We have no clue what tomorrow brings. So in our human-ness , we save and store for the unexpected, which is also wise, given our lack of “future-knowledge”.
Look at Matthew 6:26:
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
My interpretation? If your faith is in the Lord, he will provide for you regardless of whether you have an emergency fund or not.
Kobus Bosman says
Good points – you reminded me of an interview where Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life author) said that he believes it is a sin to DIE rich. His point was, what good does millions of dollars in the bank do when you die? This was refreshing to see given that he has made quite a few millions I am sure, but his plan is to use what God has entrusted him with to benefit others rather than hoarding up treasures that he can’t take with him.
I think some people are missing the point. Obviously, being God, Jesus didn’t *need* an emergency fund. He didn’t need to do a lot of things that He did while on earth. I think that Jesus would have had an emergency fund to model to us that being prepared is a good thing. Cool post idea, by the way 🙂
Minimum Wage says
What about poor people who foresee danger but lack the financial resources to take precautions? Are they prudent, simpleton, or something else?
Minimum Wage says
In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil,
but a foolish man devours all he has.
So if a poor person is not able to save, he’s foolish???
Jennie Dimmick says
New here – just stumbled across this site.
I ask myself this question all of the time. I just can’t build up a huge (over $5000) savings when my brothers are in Honduras and India, needing every extra dollar they can get to bring water, food, and the message of Jesus to orphans and widows. If I encountered disaster and ran out of money tomorrow, I’d have to move my family in with our extended family. When they run out, people die. Then again, the two leftover aluminum windows in my house with cracked panes (from the cold) really ought to be replaced, requiring 50% of my current savings. But, hey, I’ll still have 50% left, and every scientist knows that half-lives can go on indefinitely, right?
I just found this site. I like this site!!
Ryan Healy says
It’s kind of silly to debate whether Jesus would have an emergency fund or not. The simple fact is he didn’t. Money wasn’t invented yesterday. It existed in Jesus’ time. And yet nowhere in Scripture does it mention Jesus’ emergency fund. So would he have one? No. He didn’t have one when he was here the first time; I don’t think he would have one today.
You know, it is a tough question to answer, that I don’t think there is a clear cut answer for. Like previously mentioned, I think the key is where you place your trust. Obviously, if your trust is in anything other than God, you are in trouble. But, on the other hand, Proverbs is loaded with scriptures about the wisdom of preparation and the foolishness of not being prepared.
Another angle is the grace factor that we have as part of the new covenant – so I don’t know, those are just my thoughts on it. But, the conclusion that I came to was that I should save for retirement. I am going to do my best to keep from trusting in it – which reminds me of another proverb about riches make themselves wings and fly away… anyway enough rambling for now…
Great posts. I am glad I came across this site. My brother and I recently had a discussion very similar to this.
After reading through the New Testament I came up with the following conclusion:
Apparently Jesus had a tresurer by the name of Judas. John 13:29 shows Judas holding the bag. So I would think that shows He would have had an emergency fund. I doubt He had a treasurer for Himself but for the disciples.
In the Good News Bible, John Chapter 13:29 says this “Since Judas was in charge of the money bag, some of the disciples thought that Jesus had told him to go and buy what they needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor.”
That, in my opinion; shows that Judas was the treasurer for the disciples. It shows that they had a money bag and it was used to help the poor or to use for festivals. Having a money bag shows, in my opinion anyway, that they saved money.
My King James version of the same chapter and verse says this: “For some of them thought, because “Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.”
That is a nice piece of insight – thanks for sharing
Matt Nicolls says
Reminds me of a quote I heard once… “Luck favors the prepared.”
Wasn’t Judas treasurer?
Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback says
I think the real question is “Would Jesus advise us to have emergency funds?” Of course Jesus himself wouldn’t actually need one, and a lot of people have pointed it out.
However, and I think Bob did a good job of explaining this, God clearly shows us throughout the Bible that we should be prepared and prudent. That’s not the same as trusting completely in our wealth – it’s just wisdom in action.
Great thoughts. I appreciate your post, it’s really got me thinking.
In response to Chris above, I think we have to careful about the idea of “conforming to the image of His Son” being the same as doing everything Jesus did while on Earth. If you take that literal stance, then none of us should marry or have permanent homes. We should walk around preaching continually.
But, as Jesus told the parable about the man who fills his barns and then dies the next day, we should also not save out of fear / desire to be completely self reliant. If you’re saving because you know God has given you more than enough for your daily bread, and you feel that responsibility to be prudent and save, go for it. If you’re saving because you want to feel pride in your accomplishment and feel like your security rests in your nest egg rather than in God’s provision, then you’re foolish.
Jesus would have just enough money at just the right time. His savings would look like an emergency fund to everyone besides himself.
Katrina Ryder says
I have thought about this a lot and came across this discussion researching for a budget class I am teaching to women. My conviction has been that there are MANY scriptures exhorting believers to give sacrificially, often, immediately and continuously to those who we see in need. There are a SCANT few scriptures that refer to saving in any way, most of which caution against it. The only scriptures that encourage saving specifically (as opposed to simply “planning”) refer to a KNOWN time of need, such as ants preparing for winter or Joseph storing food for the 7 years of Egyptian famine. These types of savings could be compared to our retirement funds–a KNOWN time of need. My husband is a teacher and unpaid during the summer, so we save enough money to live during that KNOWN time of need.
Socking away money for UNKNOWN need, is specifically what scripture seems to caution us about. This kind of savings is fear based and causes us to trust our provision rather than God’s. Instead of saving money for an emergency that may or may not ever come, pick your head up and LOOK AROUND. There are people everywhere that God has commanded us to give to. GIVE NOW. If, in fact, you do come to a time of need, God will provide for you. He has promised to do so. Moreover, if more Christians made a discipline of giving, when in need, we could actually be provided for by those we’ve helped. It is this kind of interdependence rather than independence by which the Christian community should be defined.
Additionally, I would be curious to know if others of you felt that the parable of the virgins is about financial preparedness or spiritual preparation for Christ’s return. I felt this was out of context, but I am not a “formal” Bible scholar.
These are all wonderful discussions. I definitely believe in giving to those in need – even though my husband and I struggle to keep our basic needs covered – and struggle to maintain even a small emergency fund. He and I seem to disagree about ‘who’ to help – everyone around us seems to be in need – especially close family members – but they do not always live by Godly principles and are in need because of having squandered their money or lost their jobs because of their poor work ethics and seem to make the same poor choices over and over. I totally understand giving and helping within the Christian community – am I being judgmental?
Rebecca: There is a difference between helping those in need and enabling those who have willingly squandered what God has given them. Look at the wicked servant in the parable of the talents: The master not only reprimanded him, but gave his talent to the servant who had earned 5 talents. Helping someone who is temporarily down, who is living a God-centered life but has encountered a financial hurdle, or someone who is clearly destitute is both charitable and a judgment call; helping someone who blows their money gambling, paying for 600 channels instead of paying the light bill, or gets fired because they refuse to work is NOT charity: It is a failure to hold that person accountable for their actions. That’s enabling, and it’s not Christ-like in the slightest.
“Tough love” is not popular among the Christian church, in the same way that “discipline” is not a popular subject among “seeker-sensitive” churches: It doesn’t tickle the ears or make people feel all fuzzy inside. However, as both a recipient and a distributor of charity and tough love, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard” seems to apply in the situations you describe. Many take “Judge not, lest ye be judged” to a foolish level of “don’t ever judge anyone”- yet how are we exercising Spirit-filled, Bible-commanded discernment by blindly supporting people in their heroin addiction or laziness and gluttony?
As to an “emergency fund”- Jesus didn’t need one, true. As Ms. Ryder pointed out, there is a Biblical mandate to prepare for “known” times of need. That’s called “budgeting”. You KNOW the car will need tires this year, since you bought 40K-mile tires last year, and have put 35K on them so far. So you put away $50 a paycheck in expectation of buying new tires. That’s a budget line item. However, when the transmission blows out or a deer rams your car (note I didn’t say “you hit a deer”- the deer hit YOU, which makes a difference in the insurance world), you weren’t expecting it, and your monthly budget is now trashed because you didn’t PLAN for an emergency. An “Emergency Fund” is just that: A plan for an emergency. If emergencies didn’t happen, there would be no Emergency Rooms in hospitals. Yet they are there- in EVERY hospital. Why? Because “rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.”
Both the Bible and the Army taught me that failure to plan is a guaranteed plan to fail. Take this to its logical conclusion: If an emergency fund is unnecessary, then why have car insurance? Life insurance, sure. You’re biblically guaranteed to die. (“It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment.”) However, the Bible doesn’t mention cars, so why pay for the “what if” of insuring them? Because God gave you the wisdom to KNOW that at some point, you are pretty likely to need car insurance. Same thing with emergency planning.
If we live in California, we buy earthquake insurance. If we work in a war-ridden area, our life insurance policies should NOT have an “Act of War” exclusion. As we live with a finite knowledge of events, but a definite knowledge that while we don’t control everything, we will have “emergencies”, the failure to steadily, slowly make preparations (ala Noah) for the emergency is a plan to spend a lot of time and energy…treading water. It’s not a lack of faith by any means: It’s the same reason we study for tests, read the Word, put antifreeze in our cars: The test WILL come. The spiritual battle WILL be fought. The heatwave WILL hit. And the emergency WILL show up. Sooner or later. Our not knowing the exact timing does not excuse us from using what God has given us to prepare for it, little by little. An emergency fund (in the spirit of the ant’s storing up food for winter) merely means the difference between an emergency being an explosive bank account catastrophe and a minor budgetary speedbump.
Ron Aragon says
Here, here! Very well said! And, just to add another bit of wisdom, my mother always says, “a fool and his money are soon parted.” Save for that rainy day! It may flood whether you have flood insurance or not! Also, STOP what you’re doing and pay your bills with the “debt snowball” (Dave Ramsey), and remember, “when you find yourself in a financial hole — STOP digging!”
I really like this post. Your mother is a wise woman!
I’m wondering about this now too…my thoughts are that how can a Christain REALLY trust and rely on God when we have the security of our savings account. You can’t. Also, the Bible clearly says that we are to count the costs of following after God. Jesus tells us that we need to leave everything he can’t be a true disciple of Christ (Luke 14:33). The concept is new to me and its radical. But what we call radical is normal to an all mighty God. I don’t believe we have to be poor, etc. But I also find it contradictory and silly to say we can truely “trust” God when we have a savings account to bail us out when we need it. That’s not trusting God. I believe instead of storing up for ourselves we should be doing as the Bible tells us, helping the poor and needy. Jesus and his disciples made a living for themselves as they traveled, but I don’t believe there is any record of them saving up funds for themselves and their futures. In America we have to be extremely careful not to fall into a “rich man” mentality. We are all weathly compared to the 3rd world countries where millions of people have to live on less than $1.00. I read and love Dave Ramsey’s teachings, but now I am really looking at what we call being a follower of Christ and I don’t believe the “church” (body of believers; not a building) would look like it did in the New Testament. We are loving this life and things of this world more than God, and where we spend our time, $$, and energies is where our heart truely is. I believe that a true follower’s love for Christ will lead them to give all they have, like the man who found a teasure (the kingdom of God) and sold all he had so that he might obtain it (Matt 13:44) I don’t believe American churches are doing a good job really living out what it really means to be a Christain. And that is loving others, not a one time outreach, but a life long commitment to serving others and giving all as Christ did when He left his heavenly throne and became nothing (Phillipians 2:6-11). We (Americans) are the closest thing to the rich man the Bible describes and we don’t even know it. And we need to wake up and realize it or come judgement day, God will say I was hungry and you fed me not, naked and you clothed me not…we spent our time and money saving up for ourselves vs. loving and trusting God. Crazy Love by Francis Chan is a great read. What God, the Creator of the universe did was crazy love. It made no sense. It was totally irrational. But that’s God. And the things we do in life should resemble Crazy Love back to Him. As Mr. Chan says it is a weak response to God’s great love to merely go to church, sing songs, and try not to curse. The right response is a life sold out to Him, loving him and since love is an action word it shows in our actions in how we spend our time, $$ and resources. It’s not an easy thought to digest and is totally changing my life. But I am willing to let God change my heart and to run after knowing Him. I am willing to move and trust God, because here on earth is not my final home and we have to remember that and actually LIVE like that. So why save up $$ so that I can live out my last days comfortably here on earth. Would God be please with me ensuring I am well taken care of? Or would He be disappointed and remind us that He is our Provider, and that we have trusted more in His provisions vs. the Provider Himself. I could go on and on, but I really believe we as the Bible says should be know because of our love for men. Not just as some charity, but literally because we love and care for the poor till it hurts us….that is what I believe pleases God vs playing it safe and making sure I am taken care of. We are stewards of what God gives us and will be held accountable for how we use it.
I don’t think there should be a huge debate about emergency funds whether good or bad. Just keep in mind that God holds us accountable for how we use our resources. I don’t think its wrong to have one. But if you are really serious about growing in your walk with God, and trusting Him…I find myself “toying” with thoughts of letting go of my own security and well being, in turn to serve God with more and more of what He’s given me…We will all die one day and God willing 50 years etc from now no one will remember us or our familes, etc who will also all be dead. What really matters in life is growing in our walks with God and finding Him, seeking Him while He may be found. So that we are prepared to spend eternity with Him. I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on anything here on this earth…except building my relationship with God and loving others. Yes there’s life and other things I believe God wants us all to enjoy, but don’t lose sight of the main reason/purpose in life which is to live one pleasing to God and ultimately enjoy it with Him in eternity
Ron Aragon says
God not only gave Solomon great wealth, but he also gave him great wisdom to keep it, and to help his people prosper. God knows your heart. If your heart is not right with God, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will not only gain great wisdom, but you will gain favor with God. It’s God’s money — use it wisely! God gives us money to grow, — not to blow!
My thoughts on the question posed is this: As God Jesus wouldn’t need an emergency fund. As man he would have applied the scriptures that suggest its wise to do so. An emergency fund isn’t, in my opinion, storing up treasure, it’s financial wisdom. Clearly Jesus had an amount at hand to be able to give to the poor.
Nchise Delphine Nchang says
Jesus clearly had an emergency fund. Prov. 21:20 says there is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.
Great post! Some really interesting responses of differing view points. So, here’s my two cents. Nothing catches God by surprise, therefore He never has an emergency. However, Jesus lived an earthly life and He was prepared for whatever was to come. With that said if we as following Jesus’ example we should prepare for future expenses just like we are preparing ourseves spiritually for our future in the Kingdom. Some of us have to trust God to build an “emergency fund”. We should be good stewards/managers of whatever God has given us. This means there should be a balance between spending, saving and giving.
Pray and trust God to lead you to the proper balance for your life. Remember, He knows what our future holds and he will lead us to make wise decisions if we ask. There will be many who can’t save for a rainy day and God will provide. If you can save it would be foolish not to but whatever situation we find ourselves in, we ought to always put our trust in the LORD!!!
I believe it is good to have an emergency fund because then if something happens to us, we won’t be such a big burden to others. God supplies us not only with our daily bread, but also enough to create an emergency fund. And I believe that if we are able to keep from being a burden to others in extreme times of need which do come up from time to time for everyone, then we are also more able to help others more with their burdens as well, since emergency funds can be used to help others in a crisis as well as help ourselves when we are in a crisis.
lydia purple says
i think there is no such a thing as a “one-fits-all” approach to wise stewardship when it comes to money. there are certainly principles that apply to all (we all should tithe, and we all should stay away from debt or get out of it) but when it comes to building wealth or saving up an emergency found there is no clear answer. it all boils down to personal obedience to godly guidance and where you put your trust. (we should work and live in the place God called us to) as mentioned above we can not plan for everything, we are called not to worry, but we are also called to be wise and prepared. so i believe that if you can save up money you should, and if God tells you to give it all or a part of it you should. God does not depend on rich people to build his kingdom, yes he uses them, but He could also create a million $ out of nothing and drop it in front of some church. besides the often quoted proverbs about being wise and prepared are one side of the coin, the other is to “cast your bread upon the waters and later it shall return to you” or “give and it shall be given to you”. to give in God’s kingdom is an investment into the future as much as saving is.
my husband and i always lived with a strict no debt policy, we work hard in the place God has called us to, we always tithe, yet we were never able to save up an emergency found. we have just enough income to cover all our regular expenses, we don’t own a car. we have a basic wardrobe and no regular clothing budget… often when some pants broke we needed to trust God to provide. not once did we have to worry or buy on credit. sometimes he opened up an additional job opportunity, sometimes an envelope of money appeared. we don’t chase stuff, we chase after God. we seek to obey him in everything. sometimes we had leftover money, always up until now he called us to give it away to someone in need. right now is the first time i feel God wants us to start saving up some money, so we’ll do.
one more thought… the story of josef. God gave dreams to Pharao and through Josef’wisdom an emergency found of grain was stored up which saved Jacob’s family during the starvation. yet, later in Israel’s story, they want to return to Egypt for help and security and God is warning them against it (isaiah 30 & 31) there is no perfect emergency plan that works always. it’s about obeying God in each individual situation. we can not trust in man or money, and thank God we don’t have to.
when God led Israel out of Egypt into the desert, they took provision, but there was no way they could have taken enough for the whole journey. When they were faced with the first signs of hunger they complained and wated to return to safety of Egypt. God had other plans. They had to trust him every single day for the Manna. there was no storing up an emergency found. there was no back up plan. only simple people who trusted a Big God…. and they walked 40 years through the desert and there clothes didn’t wear out, there food didn’t run out…. not once.
Stephen Mutua says
Godliness with contentment is great gain, Paul said. We citizens of the Kingdom Of God are in the world but NOT of the world! Having money for what you need for the day is ok and having money in the bank is also ok. To remove doubt about whether you are trusting God or the money you have, ask yourself this: If something happened to me or somebody I care about and it required I spend all I have saved at a go, would I do that without a second thought of how to meet my future needs?
Many christians give out of fear, sometimes giving to people or causes that are not worthy. Give conciously and faithfully as Spirit leads in every situation. In short, for Kingdom citizens, there are no emergencies! Living otherwise is not congruent with Kingdom principles. God bless you.