Recently my wife and I faced a challenge that involved an unexpected expense. As we discussed the way forward, I said something to this effect, “We have been putting money away for situations such as this. We have been saving for a rainy day and now it’s pouring.” Thankfully, we had the financial umbrella to cover the need. If possible, this is a good place to be.
Economists in South Africa often lament that we are not good at saving our money. In many cases, due to economic pressures, coupled with low wages, it is not possible to do so. Nevertheless, when possible, it is always a good habit to save some of our income, even if it is a minimal amount. You never know when you might need it.
One of my many appreciations for my father is how he taught me the importance of both working to earn an income and to save from that income. From the earliest days of receiving an allowance, and then progressing to my first job of cutting the grass for my neighbours, my dad taught me to tithe and to put some money in savings before even beginning to think about “discretionary spending” (well, okay, he didn’t really use that phrase, but you get the point). He taught me to save for a rainy day, and I am so grateful that he did.
Over the past several decades, I have often found myself being drenched by financial challenges and needing a financial cover. Sometimes I was prepared, and sometimes I have been blessed by others offering me an umbrella. When storms have been unleashed on me, those who have saved for their rainy days have come to my aid. I would imagine that this has been the case with many of you as well.
We have all come to experience that, sometimes, it rains not only on us, but also pours on others. And when it does, we discover that, in the good providence of God, we have not been saving for our own rainy day. Rather, God has prepared us to provide help for others who are being poured on. While the sun shines on us, enabling us to save for a rainy day, the storm clouds have opened on others. When this happens, we should decide that it is pouring, and then do something about it. This is what Christians do. There are many examples of this.
Think, for instance, of the several women, who obviously had financial means, who ministered materially to the Lord and presumably to His disciples (Luke 8:3). Or think of the exceptional gift of Joseph of Arimathea, who gave his tomb for the burial of the Lord (Matthew 27:57–60). Interesting. This man had prepared for the ultimate rainy day, but when the wrath of holy God fell upon the Lord Jesus as our substitutionary sacrifice, He needed a place to be buried—and Joseph provided it. Of course, Jesus did not need it for long—He is risen indeed!
I love the example of this principle in action as recorded in Acts 11:27–30. A prophet by the name of Agabus came to the church in Antioch announcing an imminent famine that would encompass the Roman Empire. These believers, who would also be effected, determined that they would collect an offering, not to meet their own needs, but rather to alleviate suffering of others: believers in Jerusalem. Perhaps some of them were saving for their own rainy day. Agabus told them of the dark and foreboding clouds of famine on their horizon. Yet they considered how such a disaster would pour down on others, and they gave to them. How do we explain this? Quite simply: Verse 26 tells us that these disciples were such devoted followers of Jesus that they were called Christians—little christs; Christlike. Christ was the ultimate Giver. They were simply doing what they assumed He would do.
There is a sense in which Jesus Christ lived and “saved for a rainy day” when it came to His righteousness. He lived a perfectly sinless life and merited such righteousness that He was able to give it others on whom judgement was pouring. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He died for our sins; He had no sins of His own. In an amazing selfless act, He chose to experience the raining down of God’s wrath, which we deserved. He had all the merit that we needed and that we could never “save up” on our own. Yet He suffered God’s wrath poured out on Him so that we would be covered and taken care of, forever. And we who believe on Him now live in the sunshine of God’s favour.
It is because of this ultimate gift that Christians think of the needs of others as well as their own. And when we are at our best, our needs will sometimes come second.
Missions is often funded by giving up what we would otherwise use for our own rainy days. As a church, we have corporately committed to forego some of our own material and ministerial needs, in the midst of some rainy days, to send the gospel so that others can escape the storm of God’s eternal wrath. Some of our own comforts as a church are forfeited because we desire to help others. In fact, Paul spoke about this principle in Philippians 4:15–19. He encouraged the believers in Philippi that God would supply their needs when the “rains” came because they had provided for him when the clouds bursts on him. Like the Philippians, God has wonderfully and amazingly supplied our needs as a congregation as we have given sacrificially to keep our missionaries “dry” in the midst of their ministry. This applies to other areas as well.
In a recent appeal, we have asked those who can to give extra—out of what we have—in order to meet a very serious and pressing need faced by some who are in our midst. We perhaps have been saving for a rainy day. That is fine and wise. But, for some of us, God is saying, “It’s pouring; what you have saved can be an umbrella to provide shelter for others.”
This principle is an important one for Christians to grasp. God gives to us, more often than not, in order to give through us. This applies in many other areas as well, like our talents, our opportunities, our time, etc. And so with this in mind let us handle these gifts faithfully.
When we can, save for a rainy day. But let’s open our eyes and realise that sometimes it is pouring, and God has already provided what is needed for the storms—both for ours, and sometimes for the storms of others.