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Finance ...continued


How are we to interpret the teaching of Jesus on banking? He said, do not lay up treasure on earth where moth and rusts corrupts and thieves break through and steal...for where your treasure is there will your heart be also(17). The word treasure would indicate any large sum of money or items of great value which the owner would hide for future use. Jesus told a story of a rich farmer who was very successful in his business; so much so that he planned an early retirement after building more spacious premises to house his goods. He was ready to eat, drink and be merry, but he received a rude shock. God announced that that very night his soul would be required of him and asked him who he thought would inherit his wealth(18).

When studying a particular subject in the Bible, it is necessary to note all its references; it will then be seen that they all balance out and usually reconcile any seeming contradictions. It does not overlook the need for prudence as well as faith. To hold a bank account therefore from which one's finances can be monitored and regulated is wholly wise. A fund can be managed and drawn upon when necessary, and particularly in an emergency. That is a mark of good stewardship and shows responsibility. The Bible recognises the need to handle money but it shows the danger of loving it for its own sake and hoarding for selfish reasons.

A guide then to ethical saving is that it must have a worthy purpose, whether for short or long term requirements. That is different from stashing away large amounts of money needlessly or selfishly.

When money is banked or invested ethical principles will demand that it is loaned to industries whose activities are in harmony with Christian principles, so the tobacco, drug, armament, alcohol and related products will not be considered.

In the present financial climate, savings are becoming more and more necessary for one's future. Pension schemes are being devalued, and some companies are refusing to provide for new employees. We should not forget that prudent provision for the future will also include one's dependants.

There is the case of Joseph in the Old Testament(19) to whom it was revealed that there would be seven years of plenty in the land of Egypt, followed by seven years of famine. In his wisdom therefore, Joseph recommended to the Pharaoh that in the years of plenty sufficient crops should be saved to see them through the years of famine. Wisdom indeed and it worked.

On the subject of the future, it is strongly advised that everyone should make a Will so that on decease it will be perfectly clear who gets what from the Estate. Many difficult problems have been experienced where a Will has not been made. It cannot be over-emphasised that verbal expressions made before death about one's estate are not valid. Only a written Will duly attested by authorised witnesses will be considered. An example might help here. I was the executor of a well-known gentleman in Church circles, and while living he told friends that he wished to leave a sum of money to the organisation that had kindly given him a home during his later years. It was not incorporated in his written Will and was therefore not carried out. Executors can only interpret the wishes in the Will, disappointing though this may sometimes be to hope-ful inheritors.

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