The Value of Prudence!

"Storing Up!"
Image credit: clipartmax.com
Fall officially arrived a few weeks ago. The temperatures are moderating, the trees are changing from their summer green to yellow, golden and deep red colors. Another sign of this transformation to autumn is how wildlife prepares for the harshness of winter. 

Since my desk is next to our French doors, I have a ringside seat to observe the squirrels who may be God's best example of prudent industriousness. These speedy and ambitious tree mammals come in two main varieties: the nimble grey squirrels with white chests and the slightly slower-paced fox squirrels with their distinctive rust-colored coats. At this time of the year, they are doing what squirrels do. They are "squirreling away" nuts for the long winter months! (Hey! That almost rhymes!)

I have a beautiful maturing oak tree in the back yard that has produced an abundance of acorns this season. They are falling all around the perimeter of the tree like one of nature's feeders for those who hunger to bulk up and store away. About bulking up... the metabolism of squirrels kicks into high gear in the fall to counter the lean food sources of winter. I have never seen such scurrying about like a family of a half-dozen squirrels competing with each other in what seems to be an all-day contest to bulk up faster than the other! I am told that squirrels are able to eat 50% of their body weight during the onset of fall! 

 I'm not going to press this matter of "bulking up" any further than to say that I have heard from friends who are lamenting their own "Covid 10" of extra pounds during this Pandemic season of restrictions and inactivity! I can advise that we have sidewalks, parks and treadmills for such issues! Start moving!

There is a famous story in the Bible of how God used the initiatives of a young thirty-year-old Hebrew named Joseph to lead a country in storing-up grain for some very lean years. The entire account is suspenseful and riveting. Both children and adults delight to read it. The Egyptian Pharaoh was stumped by a vivid dream. He eventually turned to Joseph for answers only to be told that God would give him the answer. 

The answer would be a prudent plan to hedge against the coming seven-year draught and famine in the land by building storehouses to contain the harvests of seven productive years. Joseph would become the vizier (second in power only to Pharaoh) to govern the people and manage these food resources. In doing so, the whole of Egypt would be saved as well as Joseph's family. This would be a lesson in discipline and prudence (Genesis 41:14-36). 

Prudence is a worthy virtue! There are several words and phrases that come to mind when considering a biblical definition of this virtue: personal discipline, wise management, skilled use of resources and showing caution at the prospect of danger. We typically think of the ant as the best illustration of prudent preparation. "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise... it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest" (Proverbs 6:6,8). Solomon also challenges familial laziness, "He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son" (10:5).

Dave Ramsey is one of the leading Christian voices on financial independence today. He warns every Christian to beware of the pitfalls of debt. He advises individuals and families to establish a "rainy day" fund for emergencies (www.daveramsey.com/blog/quick-guide-to-your-emergency-fund). Ramsey recommends that we start with $1,000 and then "beef up those savings" to three to six months of expenses. These savings will protect against the unexpected expenses or shortfalls that are a result of employment, health, or house maintenance crises.

Having our finances in order not only reduces anxiety, but also gives us the freedom to express generosity in our giving. In John Wesley's sermon on "The Use of Money," (https://s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/gbod-assets/generic/Use-Of-Money.pdf) he gives three basic rules with regard to gaining, saving and giving. "Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can." The third rule is foundational to the other two. We work to earn and we save and live simplified lives so that we can generously give all we can! Wesley summarizes, "This is the extent of truly Christian prudence!" 

Let's be spiritually wise, industrious, and prudent during this season. Today's gains and savings will enable tomorrow's generous giving!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor, 
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com




Comments

  1. I hope that people will listen your biblical counsel, learn to trust God's provisions, and as I used to say when I lived near the University of Illinois - "Quit living with 'Champaign' tastes when you can only afford a 'beer budget.'" (Live within your means after you tithe to the Lord, give to Uncle Sam, pay your bills, and have put some 'mad money' away for that proverbial 'rainy day!'

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    1. Well said! I used to have a mentor who told me to always have some "mad money" wrapped up and hidden in my wallet for "emergencies" when out and about. I told him, "Why do I need that when I've got you!" :) Needless to say, I was pretty immature at that age!!

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