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
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.