Saving for short and long-term goals is most likely going to be a part of every Christian’s financial plan. The Bible is clear that saving is a wise practice (Proverbs 6:6-8, Proverbs 13:11). However, the Bible also puts some pretty serious guardrails on our saving, that we would also be wise to consider. Savings has the very real danger of turning our hearts away from God as we will be tempted to put our trust in our savings instead of Him, which leads us to hating God (Exodus 20:15; Isaiah 5:8; Jeremiah 48:7, 49:4-5; Proverbs 11:28; Luke 12:13-21; 1 Timothy 6:10; Luke 12:13-21; James 5:1-5). As a result, there is going to be a tension we are constantly trying to balance between the wisdom of saving and the dangers of it. The great thing about this tension is that it drives us back to God and to a place of communing with Him and seeking wisdom from Him.
Furthermore, we know that in our saving, the very best place to invest and save is in eternity. Anything we invest in other than God’s kingdom purposes will one day be lost to us. Keeping this reality and the tension between the wisdom and danger of saving in mind, let us consider how to think about saving for short and long term goals.
First, spend time with God determining the things you believe He is leading you to save for (both short and long-term and for you and for others). This could be things like new furniture, a car, a down payment on a house, education for kids, giving to a specific cause, etc. Spend some time in prayer asking God the question, “what do you want me to be saving for?” Write down your impressions. Always consider your increased saving goals in light of your increased giving goals. These things should always be held up together and considered in light of what God is calling you into.
Second, take the things you have written down and set some specific targets (i.e. how much, by when, how often you’ll be trying to add to the total, etc.). All goals should be specific and measurable – you should know when you have reached your goal. This is where we consider that while the Bible does say it is wise to save, it is also clear that all wise saving is for a specific purpose and for a specific period of time. There isn’t ever a time when you should be setting money aside without a God-given purpose in mind.
Third, prioritize the goals you have set in steps one and two above. You can’t do it all at one time. So, pick the most important goals and work towards those goals and then once you have made progress there begin moving toward your other goals as well.
Fourth, begin to implement your goals. Take small steps at first and then grow into bigger ones. Resolve to take something out of each paycheck to begin making progress. As you adjust to your new reality, try to save a little more, and then a little more, and so on. Before you know it, you will be making some real progress toward your God-given goals. Realize that you can’t do this on your own and so you need to seek some accountability. This could be your spouse or a friend or a pastor. Saving is hard enough to do, don’t try to do it alone.
Finally, continue spending time with God asking Him to give you a heart for these goals, but also a heart for His kingdom. In this continual practice of bringing it all before God, make sure to keep all of your savings available to God at all times. Just because He led you to save for something at one point in time, doesn’t mean that He won’t direct you to take those funds and apply them to another purpose at another point in time. God may have been having you accumulate funds for something very different than what you envisioned. Be open, listen, be willing to take any saved funds and put them to work today whenever God leads you to do so. Your savings should never be untouchable. God may ask you to give away savings at any point, and as stewards, we should be ready to do it with great joy, grateful that He is using our meager resources as a part of His grand plan.