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Hoarding Food Supplies?|
Q. Some of my friends got together and bought bags of rice from COSTCO because they are afraid of rationing and diminishing food supplies. Is this wrong?
I know people who have done this, too. One is an Italian family who does not even eat much rice! Pasta is their staple food - not rice. Clearly we can see that this behavior comes from fear. Yet, we know that "God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control" (2 Tim. 1:7, ESV).
When we have an urge to hoard things we don't even need we are giving in to base, emotional expressions of fear and greed. This is a form of idolatry. We are not trusting God to care for us - rather, we are trusting in our food supplies or our bank accounts.
Joseph's Storage Plan in Egypt
So what should Christians do? Should they be putting extra canned and dried goods in their pantries to prepare for lean days ahead like Joseph did when he knew that famine was coming upon the land of Egypt?
In the story of God's provision of daily manna for the Israelites the Lord promised to provide food supplies for his people every single day. He did not want them hoarding food. He even threatened that any food hoarded would become foul and disgusting. He did this to "test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions" (Exodus 16: 4-5, NLT).
The manna story details God's daily provisions for a unique people in a unique period of time. This does not mean we should never prepare for the future.
What are we to make of this Scripture verse?
"Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief, officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision
In the harvest."
(Proverbs 6:6 NASB)
The Life Application Study Bible says that "the ant is used as an example because it utilizes its energy and resources economically. If laziness turns us from our responsibilities, poverty may soon bar us from the legitimate rest we should enjoy" (Prov. 6:6). The Book of Proverbs is full of sayings that the diligent will have plenty while the lazy will have little.
For example, the diligent, hard workers have plenty of food while the lazy have no sense (Prov. 12:11). Hard workers make good use of their resources while the lazy waste resources (12:27). The diligent stay awake and have food to spare while the lazy love sleep and grow poor (20:13).
Prudent Save - Fools Spend Everything
Over and over God warns us that the prudent save treasures and oil in their storehouses while the fool spends everything he has and has nothing in reserve.
Christians truly become confused when it comes to saving versus hoarding. I have actually heard theologians claim that saving money in a savings account at the bank is a prudent, good thing to do. Yet, they claim that saving gold and silver coins in a safety deposit box is "hoarding." Go figure…
Hoarding or Saving?
This is nonsense. In a time when governments are debasing their own currencies it may be prudent to place some savings into precious metals and common foodstuffs. Throughout history during hyperinflationary spirals people have found themselves unable to purchase supplies because their currency became worthless. So we need to use common sense when it comes to distinguishing among certain forms of saving or hoarding for our futures.
Hoarding and greed may be applied to people who run out and buy bags and bags of rice or wheat that may be rationed to the poor in other countries. Systematically saving coins or money in interest-bearing accounts for use during old age or sickness is a prudent thing to do.
Helping the Poor, Weak&Sick
Of course, this does not absolve us from our responsibility to help the poor, weak, sick, orphans and widows, however. James says clearly,
"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (James 1:27, NASB).
Proverbs 19:17 says "If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord - and he will repay you!"
Much of our assessment of "saving" versus "hoarding" comes from an evaluation of our own attitudes. If we are greedy or hold too tightly to material possessions we may be guilty of hoarding. If we prudently save for our old age or times of sickness we are probably saving appropriately. Each of us must carefully assess our own actions.
Every Word, Thought&Deed
I don't say this lightly. We will each account for every careless word we speak (Matthew 12:36). We will account for every thought (Romans 2:15-16). We will each account for every deed we do whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Walk wisely, dear friends. The days are short and we will soon account for all of our behaviors (Eph. 5:15). We need to save for our old age or sickness. But, we are to give generously to the poor and needy as well.
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