One of the sessions in the No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Seminar I present teaches people how to save and invest for retirement and college. Occasionally I run across someone who takes issue with the concepts of saving and investing. Over the years I’ve heard comments like, "Where does God tell us to save?" "Doesn’t a retirement plan indicate a lack of trust in God?" "Isn’t saving the same as hoarding?"

Remember, Jesus didn’t say that storing up treasures on this earth was necessarily wrong. He did say it is a sin to prepare only for earthly gratification without also being abundant toward God. (Read Luke 12: 13-22 when a special eye on verse 22.)

To help me determine my motive for investing, I’ve developed a personal "Greed-O-Meter" test. Maybe you will find this little three-point checklist helpful. Try asking yourself these three questions about the money you are saving and investing:

1) Why do I want it?

2) What’ll I do with it?

3) What’ll I do to get it?

I believe there is a proper and appropriate place for saving and investing some of our money. The Bible talks about this:

"He who gathers in the summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who sleeps in the harvest is a son who acts shamefully." (Proverbs 10: 5)

"Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline…" (Proverbs 13: 18a)

When does a healthy interest in investing become something less — something that is cancerous to the soul? I can’t tell you. It’s a very personal decision. It’s a matter of heart and prayer. At some point a healthy interest in investing can morph into a lust for more and more. At some point a savings plan can become an excuse for not trusting in God’s ability to supply all our needs.

It always tickles me when some good Christian corners me to ask if investing is a Christian thing to do. I suspect that this same good soul fastens his seatbelt and locks the door at night. Yet too many Christians have abrogated their God-given responsibility to provide for their family’s future. Instead they plan to show their faith by "trusting God to provide." All too often these people are drains on the resources of others who made the effort to prepare.

If you’re struggling with this, you may find the following helpful. Below are two lists: One are valid reasons for Christians to save and invest; the other includes some reasons not to invest.

Valid Reasons to Save and Invest:

1. To be good stewards. It’s all on loan to us from God.

2. To learn to defer gratification.

3. To provide for our family’s needs. (ie: college, a home, etc.)

4. To become more effective long-term givers.

5. To prepare for our own retirement needs. This is a loving thing to do — so your kids, the church, or society won’t have to provide for you.

Some Reasons Not To Invest:

1. To build a personal empire. Remember, He who dies with the most toys is still dead — and has a date with God to discuss how he used the blessings God loaned him.

2. To achieve "happiness." Money doesn’t insure happiness. Surveys show that 80 percent of lottery winners are unhappier after they win than they ever were before they won.