Scripture says: John 12:4-6 (ESV) – “But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”
Jesus appointed a crook as his treasurer for ministry funds. It is surprising. But before you look down on Judas, realize we all are, at our roots, crooked. That includes our tendency to deal poorly with our wealth, income and expenses. This is evidenced by the reality that many people care relatively little for the poor in their giving practices. Some even care little for their own family’s real needs. As a nation, we gamble more than we give. Many save nothing for the future and have nothing saved.
How does charitable giving compare with gambling in total dollars? Are we setting aside funds in retirement savings accounts? The data varies widely, depending on the source, but I think this probably reflects reality and mirrors some of the things I have seen when helping others:
Giving: “Americans gave $373.25 billion in 2015.” (National Philanthropic Trust)
Gambling: “Gambling expenditures now top $550 billion per year.” (http://www.equip.org/article/gambling-in-america/)
Retirement savings: Various reports I found said that anywhere from 33% to over 50% of families have no retirement savings.
Does your investment approach for future needs resemble a casino gamble?
Some think that investing in the stock market is a huge gamble. The way that some do it, it certainly is. What are some signs that you like to gamble when it comes to your future and the future care of your loved ones?
- You have no budget. This probably means your spending is greater than your income.
- You live pay-check to pay-check. This is very common. You are gambling that you will get paid each week for the rest of your life.
- You have no retirement savings. You think Social Security will be enough. What a silly gamble!
- Your total debt is greater than your total savings. You think this is normal and unavoidable. The credit card casinos have you mesmerized in their endless grip.
- You have no idea what your retirement 401(k), 403(b), or IRA statements mean or what your investments are. Is someone gambling on your behalf?
- You knowingly or unknowingly invest in high-risk investments that are extremely likely to fail.
- You have no will or other end-of-life documentation. You can do that tomorrow or next year.
The Wise Alternative: the Ant Approach
If at least a third of the citizens of this country are not saving anything for the future, they need to start by reading Proverbs 6:6-8 (ESV): “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.”
With that as a basis, perhaps you need to think this way:
- Am I being wise with my limited time and talents? Do I have a way to measure my progress?
- Winter is coming when I cannot plant, work the fields and harvest at 75 years old in the same way I could at age 35. Am I doing any gathering for the future?
- The ant does not work alone. Have my family (spouse) and I taken steps that make sense for our financial future? This preparation includes a budget, will and appropriate term life insurance.
- Do I know what I need to know regarding investing what I save? If not, what will I do about it?
So, if someone were to examine your financial decision-making life, would you look more like Judas the crook or like the simple, small, industrious ant? The ant is the better role model.