There’s a lot out in the blogging community about “getting prepared” (a.k.a. “prepping” or “food storage”) and the people who adhere to this premise typically fall into one of several categories: they either grew up in a culture where this was common (farmers, for example), or they’re hard core survivalists believing that everyone else is the enemy, or they’re doomsdayers who are fearful of the future and sure the world is coming to an end.
Just like a lot of things in this fallen world, there are some truths and good points each group espouses, but none of these philosophies would be consistent with a Christian world view.
Why then, would a Christian prepare? Is it biblical to practice food storage? Would it be a sin to do so? How could a believer even go about prepping without falling into sin? And prepare for what… natural disasters? An enemy? Economic instability? War? Terrorism? With such huge ethical questions to answer, it’s no wonder that most Christians don’t prepare in the least.
To answer these controversial issues, we must turn to the Bible for wisdom. And if you were to do so, you’d find that there are examples of both; where God’s people or individuals prepped for hard times and famine (Genesis 6-7 and 37; Matthew 25: 1-13) and instances when they were called to go without being prepared (Exodus 16; I Kings 17:1-16; Matthew 10).
While there seems to be more examples of people not being prepared in the Bible than those that were actually prepared, I believe that during biblical times, trusting God to literally provide manna from heaven wasn’t the norm and preparedness was more of a way of life during Biblical times. (Just do a Bible word search on “store” to get an idea).
Food wasn’t readily available at a supermarket, so people had to daily think way ahead for food supplies in order to just survive. Hunting, fishing, raising their own food, storing wheat… this was normal. Walking in faith that God would provide at the very moment of need was not!
What’s important to grasp from the Scriptures is that in both categories, God provided. Sometimes God provided in advance before the event occurred while at other times He provided at the moment of the actual need, during the crisis, or even afterward. But it all came from Him. And it still does!
Since there isn’t a specific biblical command not to prepare or store up food, I think it’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that a Christian can prep without being in sin. But why would a believer want to or feel the need to do so?
Any number of scenarios might require a believer to be prepared, from the very possible financial crisis to the less likely terrorist attack. Since we do not know what tomorrow may bring (Proverbs 27:1; James 4:13-15), we would be foolish indeed to assume that everything will always remain stable in a fallen world.
This isn’t Mayberry and there’s an enemy out to destroy us (I Peter 4:8). And anyone watching, listening, or reading the news lately would most likely agree that the world as we have known it is fragile indeed.
Often in the past, Christians have avoided storing food based on Luke 12:16-20, but I believe they are misinterpreting that passage of scripture when they do so. The issue was not that the man in Luke 12 stored food. All farmers store food. And this farmer had barns already, which he had used in the past.
The sin came to fruition when he became proud, selfish, and didn’t acknowledge God who had provided for him. Unfortunately, this is still true today, and many who store up food and supplies miss this point and end up becoming fearful, stingy, and paranoid. (Yes, those are ugly words, but sin IS ugly!).
All preparations should be made with the intent to share both food and the good news with the less fortunate, our neighbors who are truly in need, and the vulnerable in our society (elderly, orphan, widow, handicapped, physically infirm, etc.).
There are plenty of examples in the Bible that speak to this, but the one that is both comforting and chilling can be found in Matthew 25:31-46 where Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats – those that took care of the stranger or their neighbor and those that did not. After reading the passage, there is no doubt in my mind that we must maintain our food stores with an open hand.
Sadly, there always has been and will always be those who do not feel the need to prepare nor be ready to share.
They have not carefully considered the question of should a Christian practice food storage.
God knew this would be the case and so He gave us several reminders in scripture that speak about the fool as the one who is not prepared:
Proverbs 21:20 – “There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up.”
Proverbs 6:6-9 – “Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest. How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?”
Proverbs 30:24-25 – “Four things are small on the earth, But they are exceedingly wise: The ants are not a strong people, But they prepare their food in the summer;”
Which presumes upon God and is more arrogant and foolish?
- Being self controlled enough to set aside some food each week into storage for hard times or presuming that the grocery store will always have what you need when you want it?
- Saving three months worth of extra food like you save extra cash in the bank for emergencies, large purchases, and needs or eating everything in your pantry each week and assuming you’ll have an opportunity to buy more later?
- Working diligently to put up extra canned goods, water, batteries, and such for a natural disaster or depending on FEMA to be at your door within 24 hours of a crisis?
- Keeping a spirit of hospitality in your heart and adding a bit more food than your family needs at the moment to the pantry in order to be ready to share with a friend or stranger in need or thinking only of your own family’s needs with the attitude that others will provide for them (like the government perhaps)?
So, should a Christian practice food storage?
I’ll be the first to agree that we can’t prepare for everything and some disasters could wipe out all we’ve set aside. We’ve seen what earthquakes, tsunamis, and tornados can do. Do not let that fact keep you from being faithful with what God has already graciously bestowed. And who knows? If your food storage is suddenly gone, perhaps He’ll provide for your own family from someone’s food storage who has wisely prepared as well!