Perhaps many, if not all, of you have heard of Dave Ramsey’s book Total Money Makeover. (Let me preface that while there are many great ideas in his book, it’s not perfect, and shouldn’t be treated as such. However, his methods have been proven not only his own life, but countless others as well.) In his book, he chronicles the steps (what he refers to as “baby-steps”) that he took to overcome bankruptcy. The very first of his baby-steps to get out of debt is perhaps counter intuitive to many people, at least to me. My initial reasoning would be to retire debt as the first step. If you want to get out of debt, then pay your bills. However, Mr. Ramsey proposes a different first baby-step: build up a $1000 emergency fund. While this amount isn’t very much in comparison to various circumstance that could come my way (loss of job, car breaking down, etc.), it would be a big help to compensate for some of those times when a larger amount of money is necessary.
My goal today, however, is not to discuss Mr. Ramsey’s book at length. After talking to a number of people who disagree with the ideas of the book, I find that most disagree, mainly, with the first step (and a subsequent step that deals with building a hefty savings account). The common conception is this: by saving up an emergency fund, faith in God’s provision is taken out of the equation. By saving an emergency fund as a Christian, you do not have faith that God will provide in times of financial struggling. While, as I said, Mr. Ramsey’s book isn’t perfect, it teaches a very important Biblical principle that doesn’t replace faith, but rather complements it: stewardship.
Stewardship is the job of supervising or taking care of something, in our case specifically, money. We don’t have to look far in the Bible to find the command to be good stewards of what God gave us. The command is clear: what God has given us should be well taken care of.
Please understand that I am not saying we should not have faith. Having faith is an integral aspect of the Christian life. I would never want to downplay its importance. Having faith is an act of obedience.
I submit to you that being a good steward is just as much an act of obedience as having faith in God’s provision. The weekly denial of various activities or unnecessary items in order to save money is just as God honoring as trusting Him when a need arises. Because the fact is: God can provide for a need through an emergency fund. It’s like the man who had a bill that needed to be paid and he didn’t have the money for it. He prayed and asked God that He would provide miraculously for the need. The next day at work the boss asked the man if he would like to work some additional hours overtime. God provided for the man’s need, but he didn’t miraculously send a check in the mail. God can absolutely provide for an unexpected need by sending a check in the mail. However, He also would like to provide through the diligence and stewardship of his children.
The idea that saving an emergency fund negates the necessity of faith is somewhat misguided in this: unless you were able to save an astronomical amount very quickly, there will still be needs that an emergency fund will not be enough for. Faith is still necessary with a hefty savings account. Stewardship and faith go together. They are complementary.
I’m not a master at this, admittedly; but I am trying to be a good steward and have faith. Are you being a good steward? You don’t have to give up faith to be a good steward. They can go together.