For a while now, I have been uncomfortable with a particular area of teaching in the modern Church. It is a sacred area, an area off-limits to criticism by anyone who wants to maintain any respectability. For whatever reason, I seem to lack the desire for respectability (And it is a good thing, too! I would be utterly depressed for lack of any). So without further delay, here is my problem. I have a problem with the Dave Ramsey money management program, classes and books. A big problem. I have thought about it for over a year, but today listening to his call-in radio program I was able to put into clear thought what was bothering me. The problem is that his advice and methods do not take into account the full teachings of Scripture. I know, I know. I can practically hear the furious typing already as his defenders give reference to verses concerning faithful stewardship and the scattering on many waters. But as the call I heard today was a perfect example of what bothers me, I will simply discuss that.
A caller phoned in with the question “Should I proceed with putting new, more decorative hardwood floors in my home?” He described his current situation as employed, possessing $15k in emergency money and $15k in a fund to beautify his home (worth approx $325k). He was concerned with proceeding because he was in the auto industry, and many others in this industry were now un-employed. He was nervous. And now to Dave’s response. Dave told him that he should indeed proceed, as he had a safety net in his emergency fund. He also made it clear not to be nervous, but to feel good about the new floors. This is NOT Biblical advice. No way, no how! Nope. Why would I say that? Well, look at the following verses, and please read them all the way through, even if you are familiar with them. Forget what you have been taught about what Jesus really meant & look at what the text actually says:
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21 (ESV)
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:22-34 (ESV)
In both of these texts, Jesus teaches that saving up wealth in storehouses for security is wrong. In many parables (must I name them all?) believers are called stewards, managers, and slaves of their Master who is Christ. We are to manage His resources that He gives us responsibility over with the intention of fulfilling His directives. Our resources are not our own, and are in no way to be stored up for our own security or comfort! Why does silver and gold bring us security? Is being held in the creator’s hand insufficient, we must also have an emergency fund? Dave Ramsey never once encouraged the caller to search God’s Word to see how the Master has directed us in use of His resources. No mention of time spent in prayer. No questioning as to whether the caller felt comfortable because of His trust in Christ or because of his emergency fund. No Biblical advice was given at all, just simple money management tips with the aim of keeping this steward comfortable and in wealth. How is this advice considered Christian? It is not! Please understand, I do believe that at times God chooses to bless those who follow Him with various material blessings. But on His schedule, not the servants. Storing up storehouses and beautifying homes while others are hungry and lost around us brings no glory to God. In fact, it blasphemes the name of God before unbelievers when they see Christians living this way. I know this post will make folks angry, but before getting angry about the fact that someone has threatened your “right” to be wealthy, ask yourself this, “Why am I so angry? What and where is my treasure if I am stirred to such anger from an article?” Please, I implore you, put down the Dave Ramsey and pick up the writings of Jesus Christ our Lord!