Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

The Principle Of The Ant

6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! 7 Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, 8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. {Proverbs 6:6-8, NLT}

20 The wise store up choice food and oil, but fools gulp theirs down. {Proverbs 21:20, TNIV}

17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. {1 Timothy 6:17}

            Today we continue in a series entitled “Financial Peace In Turbulent Times.”

            These last few weeks we have been looking at some of the commands that God gives us regarding the use of our financial resources.

            God is clear in Scripture how we are to handle the gifts God gives us.

            Let me take just a minute and do a quick review.

            As I read the Bible, God has 5 simple and clear commands for the healthy use of our money:

            First, God commands us to give. In Proverbs 3:9 the Bible tells us we are to:

9 Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops (TNIV).

            Second, God commands us to pay our taxes. In Romans 13:7 the Bible says:

            7 Give to everyone what you owe: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor (TNIV).

            Third, God commands us to pay our debts. Psalm 37:21 says,

“The wicked borrow and never repay, but the godly are generous givers.” (NLT)

            Fourth, God commands us to provide for the needs of our family. 1 Timothy 5:8 says,

8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (TNIV)

            Fifth, and finally, God commands us to save for the needs of the future. Proverbs 21:20 says,

“The wise store up choice food and oil, but fools gulp theirs down.” {Proverbs 21:20, TNIV}

            Today I want us to focus on the idea of financial peace through saving.

            How exactly does saving give us financial peace?

            Why does God want us to save?

            How are you when it comes to saving?

            Do you regularly put away funds to help with future expenses?

            Maybe you are like the couple I heard about:

            After years of scrimping and saving, a husband told his wife the good news:          “Honey, we’ve finally saved enough money to buy what we started saving for in 1989.”   
            “You mean a brand-new Cadillac?” she asked eagerly.   
            “No,” he replies, “a 1989 Cadillac.”  
            The typical American spends more each year that they make.

            The average saving rate for an American household is -1% (negative one percent).

            That means that Americans either dipped into their savings or borrowed to finance the things they purchase each year.

            No one can sustain that type of lifestyle indefinitely! Saving -1% a year eventually means you will end up with nothing.

            This level of -1% saving is the lowest in American history since 1933, during the Great Depression. Then the average saving was -1.5%.

            God has given us two clear principles to help us understand the need to save. Let’s look at them.

 (1) God’s plan for God’s people is to save today for future needs (Proverbs 6:7-8, Proverbs 21:20).

6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! 7 Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, 8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. {Proverbs 6:6-8, NLT}

20 The wise store up choice food and oil, but fools gulp theirs down. {Proverbs 21:20, TNIV}

            The first principle of saving comes from nature. The Bible says, “Take a lesson from the ants! (Proverbs 6:6).

            God’s Word tells us, “Everything you need to know about saving you can discover by looking at an any colony.” God has designed ants so they are able to calculate very accurately what they’ll need to get through the winter; they then gather and store that amount during the summer and autumn.
            In fact, that’s a good description of “saving”: Looking forward to a future need, then putting aside whatever is necessary to meet that upcoming requirement so you won’t have to borrow.
            The most basic type of savings that we need is commonly called an “emergency fund.” It is an amount of money that we save to meet “unexpected needs” in the future.

            Let’s face it. You and I both know we will have unexpected needs in the future. Let’s go ahead and “expect them!”

            The way to prepare for them is to begin to save now the resources that we will need then!

            A good rule of thumb is to have $500 to $1000 set aside in an emergency fund.

            This is the principle of the ant!

            Let’s see how this works.

            Since we know the unexpected will happen, and we are going to expect it to do so, why don’t we generalize…at least once a year you and I are going to have an “unexpected emergency” that will cost us…say, an average of $500 each time.

            What happens if we don’t prepare now for this?

            When it comes and we do not have a $500 emergency fund and we do not have an extra $500 lying around, we will have to borrow $500 from a credit card to pay it.

            This solves the emergency in the short term, but now we have to start making payments to the credit card company.

            Now we still don’t have a $500 emergency fund, we have had emergency #1 and we have the added burden of paying $20 a month to the credit card company (plus interest).

            A year from now emergency #2 comes upon us.

            Now are problem begins to compound itself.

  1. We are still trying to pay for Emergency #1 (we will still owe $350)
  2. We will still be paying the interest to the credit card for Emergency #1
  3. It is probable that we were not able to save up for emergency #2, since they were still spending extra money to pay for emergency #1, therefore they will have to borrow again to pay for Emergency #2
  4. Now we are paying back both Emergency #1 and #2 ($850 total), paying interest on both amounts borrowed, and in even a more difficult place to start saving for emergency #3 since their minimum payment increased to $35.

            Do you see the mess we are getting ourselves into? Imagine what this vicious cycle will look like in 5 to 10 years!

            For some, this is the way they live throughout their whole life!

            The Bible tells us there is another way:

            “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” –Proverbs 27:12 (NIV)

            What would this same situation look like if we had a $500 emergency fund?

            You begin today to save $50 a month for the next year…hopefully BEFORE the next “unexpected emergency” arrives…because now you are going to “expect” it!

            12 months later here comes Emergency #1…at a cost of $500.

            (1) The good news is that in the last 12 months you have saved $600 for Emergency #1…you have more than enough!

            (2) Not only that but you have earned some interest on your savings in the last 12 months so you have an extra $15…for a total of $615.

            (3) You can pay Emergency #1 off in full, and have a $115 head start saving for Emergency #2.

            (4) In the meantime you will still be earning some interest on what you have saved already and the amount that you are putting away ($50 a month) for Emergency #2.

            (5) When Emergency #2 rolls around next you will have saved $735 to pay for the $500 emergency. You can pay it in full and have $235 remaining for Emergency #3.

            Now, imagine how that will look in 5 or 10 years!

            That’s the principle of the ant!

            Now you may be thinking just like me, “Where am I going to get an extra $50 a month to save? I am already spending everything I have each month just to pay the bills I have now!”

            Saving is a matter of priority!

            The reason we do not save is because we have higher priorities.

            The pizza we bought is a higher priority than saving.

            The new computer we bought is a higher priority than saving.

            The movie tickets we bought is a higher priority than saving.

            The Starbucks coffee is a higher priority than saving.

            Here is the key biblical principle when it comes to saving…As yourself, “What are my priorities?”

            According to the Bible this is easy.

            When you receive income you

Pay God first. That’s the tithe.

Your pay yourself second. That’s your saving.

You pay your bills third.

            Until you pay God first, yourself second, and then everyone and everything else, you will never save money for the future!

            Now before we leave this subject, let’s ask ourselves, can we really save any money?

            Sure we can…I know where we can get an extra $7,000…even in this economy!

            By eliminating one $2.00 bag of potato chips (not all just 1 bag) from your grocery bill each week you can save $104.00 per year.

            Cutting out one six-pack of soft drinks will save another $104.

            A weekly $4.00 box of cereal adds up to $208 a year.

            If you eat out one less time each week at $30 a meal, you can save $1,560 and ordering one less delivered pizza at $20, can save you $1040 per year.

            Similar annual savings can be realized by cutting out weekly purchases of fruit rolls ($130), daily gourmet coffee at $2.50 per cup ($910), a daily liter of soda ($365), snack cakes ($455), one less bottled water ($455), one cup less juice per person in a family of four ($546), 3 lbs. less red meat a week ($390), and by eliminating a $4.00 lunch five days a week ($1040).

            By themselves, these efforts may seem small–but they add up to over $7,000.

            Saving is a matter of priority. We will never start saving until we make it a top priority in our lives.

            God has another principle for us when it comes to saving:

(2)There is no security in saving…only in God (1 Timothy 6:17).

17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. {1 Timothy 6:17, NLT}

            A year ago many of us would have had trouble understanding the idea that to trust in money is to place our confidence and security in a source that is “unreliable.” Before the economic downturn we had a lot of confidence that banks were solvent, the mortgage system was healthy, jobs were secure, and investments were growing.

            But today, just one year later, we know all too well how unreliable money can be.

            The Bible tells us not to put our trust in money, but to put our trust in God, and God alone.

            It is ironic that the currency of the United States contains the phrase, “In God we trust.” It is almost a warning to us from our leaders who came before us to tell us, “Don’t put your trust in these paper bills and coins…you can’t count on them. Put your trust in God alone.”

            Jesus told a story (see Luke 12:16-21) of a man who was a successful businessman. One year his crops were so plentiful that he had nowhere to store his harvest. He said to himself, “I need to tear down my barns and build bigger barns. Then I can sit back, relax, eat, drink, and enjoy my life. I have everything I need.”

            Unfortunately for the man, it was his last day to live. And Jesus ended the story with these words, “So it is with those who are rich in the things of the world, but who are poor in the things of God.”

            The man felt he had everything he needed for success in life. He had enough money and resources that he saw no other need in his life. But his resources were not enough to give him eternal security. In that area, he was very poor.

            His trust was in his resources, instead of in “the Source.”

            Even in this tough economic time, we can trust God. Bank accounts may rise and fall, the stock market may go up or down, unemployment numbers may increase or decrease, but God will remain constant and faithful.

            The only “social security” in this life is found in God.

            God intends for us to be wise in our use of the gifts God gives us, but God does not intend for us to put our trust in those gifts.

            Our trust, in good times or bad, is secure only with God!

            Even the ants, as hard as they work, have to rely on their Creator to sustain their lives and provide for their needs.

            Today is a good day for us to “take a lesson from the ant!”


One Response to “The Principle Of The Ant”

  1. Hey John Franklin. This is cool. I like this. Will you send it out to me in word format? Enjoyed being with you this week in Indiana.

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