Is it a SIN to have INSURANCE? What does the Bible say about insurance? Is it lack of faith to have insurance?
LET'S awake, brethren. Accidents do happen to us! Some brethren become careless or are caught off guard and become involved in needless accidents involving serious injuries. We all can be caught off guard at the crucial moment. What should you personally do about accident insurance? What is the Church's responsibility when unconverted relatives die, leaving converted widows destitute? What does the Bible say about insurance — or "protection," as it is often called — in such instances?
What the Bible Reveals
It will come as a surprise, but THE BIBLE DOES SAY SOMETHING ABOUT INSURANCE! The problem of owning insurance continues to perplex many in the Church. It is often reasoned by those who do not have insurance that it would be showing a lack of faith to be "protected" by insurance. Others have said that when they had insurance they did not feel they needed to trust God as much as before. It seemed to destroy their faith, since they were "protected" by men. Is this kind of reasoning right? Exactly what DOES the Bible reveal about owning insurance — about saving for the future? Before we can understand the right or wrong of insurance, we must first ask ourselves the question: "Is it wrong TO SAVE for the future?" Notice what the Bible says about laying up for a "rainy day"! The prophet Agur, under inspiration, wrote: "There are four things which are little upon the earth" — they are little in size — "BUT THEY ARE EXCEEDING WISE: the ANTS are a people not strong" — in comparison with the gigantic weight that man lifts — "yet THEY PROVIDE THEIR FOOD IN THE SUMMER" (Proverbs 30:1, 24-25). The ant SAVES. The ant gathers in summer for the coming winter. The ants are WISE creatures. They do not have to BEG for food. No wonder Solomon said: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, AND BE WISE; which having no chief, overseer, or ruler" — to tell the ant what to do — she "provideth her bread in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest" (Prov. 6:6). The ant does not wait till the winter comes to gather food. It is too late by that time. The wise thing to do is prepare for hard times. So the Bible counsels laying up for a rainy day. God also saves for us — He saves up the wealth of the sinner for the righteous! Then what did Jesus mean by saying: "Treasure not up FOR YOURSELVES treasures upon earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves steal. But treasure up for yourselves treasures in heaven ... for where thy treasure is there will thy heart be also" (Mat. 6:19-21). Does this mean that Jesus frowned upon saving for the future? Not at all! Jesus sanctioned saving for all eternity — "treasure up for yourselves treasure in heaven." That saving Jesus will give us as a reward when He returns. But Jesus warned not to treasure up "for yourselves" earthly savings. Don't save for yourselves — save for others! A good man does not lay up FOR HIMSELF. He saves for his grandchildren! A wise man does not build up a bank account only for himself, BUT FOR HIS FAMILY.
What Is Insurance?
Now we are ready to understand what insurance really is. Insurance involves a program by which many individuals pay small premiums into a company, so that in case of accident, fire or death, the party suffering the loss receives sufficient money as compensation for the loss. It is a kind of pool in which people save and share the burdens of one another. Insurance, of course, does not prevent accident, fire or death; it merely compensates you if you suffer such a loss so that you can regain your economic feet. In case of death, insurance provides security FOR WIDOWS AND CHILDREN. Does the Bible have anything to say about this kind of insurance? Turn with me to Deuteronomy 14:28-29. "At the end of three years, thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates." For whom is this laid up? For yourself? No! For "the strangers, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates [or cities]." Why? So that they may "come and eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thy hand which thou doest." This is INSURANCE! Here is God's insurance program to take care of widows and orphans IN CASE OF DEATH of the husband and father. It often happens that people will not have sufficient laid up for emergencies until later life. God knew this might happen. To provide for this He ordered the people to save 10% of their income once in three years — that is, the third and sixth year out of every seven years. We commonly call this the THIRD TITHE. The same command is repeated in Deut. 26:12. Such problems as this have already faced God's Church. Sometimes women who have young children are converted. Either the husbands have died or have left them without means of support. What shall the Church do? It is the responsibility of its members to save the THIRD TITHE to take care of just such emergencies. Such young women should not be out working, but ought to be at home taking care of their children, UNTIL THEY BECOME OLD ENOUGH TO SUPPORT THEMSELVES. In another instance a few years ago a fire gutted the home of an elderly widow who had recently been baptized. She had little savings. What should we, as God's people, have done? She received help from the THIRD TITHE. This is the UNSELFISH thing to do. Insurance is the principle of saving to help others. God wants us to save the THIRD TITHE once in three years as an insurance program for the Church, just as He wants us to save the FIRST TITHE for the spread of the gospel. It is a lack of faith not to save the third tithe for the fatherless and widows. Saving the third tithe is a test of your faith! THE THIRD TITHE IS A KIND OF FLOOD AND DROUGHT INSURANCE, TOO. It is also a type of "life insurance," aiding the widows and the young children if the head of the house dies unexpectedly. This can and does happen! "TIME AND CHANCE HAPPEN TO ALL" (Ecclesiastics 9:11). But the third tithe does not mention the perpetually poor or the lazy. Notice Deuteronomy 15:7-11: "If there be among you a NEEDY MAN, one of thy brethren, within any of thy gates ... thou shalt not harden thy heart, not shut thy hand from thy needy brother; BUT THOU SHALT SURELY OPEN THY HAND UNTO HIM, AND SHALT SURELY LEND HIM SUFFICIENT FOR HIS NEED IN THAT WHICH HE WANTETH."
When to GIVE to the Poor
If any poor man be called a brother, we are to LEND to him. It does NOT say "give." Too often the perpetually lazy and poor are permitted to receive WHEN THEY ARE NOT WILLING TO WORK. Paul commands, "If any will not work, let him not eat!" (II Thes. 3:10). We are to LOAN to the deserving needy brother. But we are not to charge him interest. We are not to be usurers, seeking a profit from a loan. If, after seven years have passed, and the poor or needy have not been able to repay the loan, then you are to release the brother from that obligation. You are to count the loan as a gift. "At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release that which he hath lent unto his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother ... of a foreigner" — one who is not converted — "THOU MAYEST EXACT IT; but whatsoever of thine is with thy brother thy hand shall release. Howbeit there shall be no needy among you — IF ONLY THOU DILIGENTLY HEARKEN UNTO THE VOICE OF THE LORD THY GOD, TO OBSERVE TO DO ALL THIS COMMANDMENT" (Deut. 15:1-5). The only reason many of us are poor and needy is that we have not observed all God's commandments IN THE PAST. We reap what we sow! If we are needy, God expects us to borrow AND ALSO TO PAY BACK. David said: "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed BEGGING bread. All the day long he dealeth graciously, and LENDETH; and his seed is blessed" (Psalm 37:25-26). The righteous do not beg. The righteous lend. Of course, God does NOT expect us to give to habitual beggars and the lazy of this world if they ask us and we have the means. ALMS are for the blind and maimed and crippled of this world. Jesus said: "Give alms." This aid for the poor is different from the third tithe which is God's insurance program for His people administered by the Church.
Example from History
We have given you previously the illustration from Jewish history which shows how the Jews understood the use of the tithes. Let us reconsider this example — from Tobit, chapter 1. (This is a historic, though uninspired record): "A tenth part [the first tithe] of all my produce I would give to the sons of Levi, who officiated at Jerusalem, and another tenth [the second tithe] I would sell [because Tobit lived too far from Jerusalem to bring it there] and go and spend the proceeds in Jerusalem each year [at the annual feasts], AND A THIRD TENTH I WOULD GIVE TO THOSE TO WHOM IT WAS FITTING TO GIVE IT, as Deborah my grandmother had instructed me — FOR I WAS LEFT AN ORPHAN BY MY FATHER." For whom was it fitting to give the third tithe? — widows and orphans. Now that we have come to recognize the full import of this command, we must recognize that it is God's injunction that all of His people who have an earned income MUST save the third tithe. Why should some of His people expect to reap the benefits of others, and do nothing themselves? It is our duty as a body to take care of one another in case of accident or death, of catastrophes from flood or other natural causes. That is the kind of insurance which the third tithe provides. This tithe may be handled locally, wherever there is a congregation; or at the headquarters in Pasadena to which the scattered members may send their third tithe. But this does not free each man who is the head of a family for the divinely appointed responsibility of providing savings for his children. Without such savings, many people would not have been able in the past to help God's work as they did. They voluntarily gave to the work in a special crisis.
When the Church is NOT Responsible
Now let us consider a personal responsibility of each member in God's Church. Turn to I Timothy 5:3-4, 8, 16: "Honor widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow hath children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety towards their own house, and to requite their parents: for this is acceptable before God ... But if any provideth not for his own, and especially his household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever! ... If any believer hath widows, let that believer relieve them, and LET NOT THE CHURCH BE BURDENED; that it may relieve the real widows" — those who are absolutely alone in the world. Paul wrote this to Timothy. It was Timothy's duty to see that no one took advantage of the financial sacrifice of God's people. If you are able — and some think they are not able when they ARE able — to support widows and orphans in your household, you are to do so. That is acceptable before God, Paul said. IT IS NOT THE CHURCH'S DUTY IN SUCH CASES to use the third tithe. God does not want spongers in His Kingdom!
Other Personal Insurance
It is, of course, up to each individual to provide for his own home. Some may have enough saved or invested and feel no need for special insurance. Consider, however, personal accident and liability insurance. Since most individuals cannot save money on their own in anticipation of emergencies, they need to obtain auto insurance (and whatever else may be necessary). We all become CARELESS or take unnecessary chances at times. ACCIDENTS CAN HAPPEN TO YOU! The experience of our own Church members proves it! God is not going to prevent you from reaping the consequences of carelessness. But He will deliver you. Thanks to God we can always pray to be healed or to be protected from infection in case of injury. Many people cannot save unless they owe some insurance company a premium obligation. What a shame! But be careful. Do not accept just any insurance company agent that comes along. Some companies are not sound. Remember, too, that accident, fire and educational insurance which provide benefits in the next few years, are far more beneficial than life insurance which will probably be of little value 12 years hence anyway! No insurance can replace faith. Otherwise God would not have provided life and disaster insurance for His people in His own law IN THE FORM OF THE THIRD TITHE. If you are one who believes that insurance REPLACES faith, that is merely proof that you probably DID NOT HAVE ANY ABIDING FAITH IN THE FIRST PLACE. Insurance is never a substitute for faith. Faith is that assurance that God will deliver you OUT OF every difficulty you may become involved in. Paul was in several shipwrecks. God delivered him out of each of them after they happened. Paul often lost his property. Time and circumstance happen to us all. God alone could deliver Paul from death in such accidents. No insurance could have! But savings in the form of insurance would compensate Paul for his loss. That is how God wants us to view the question of insurance and the third tithe. It is time we open our minds to receive God's understanding and believe and act on this command of God's law to save the THIRD TITHE. "If you know these things, happy are you if you do them," said Jesus. Are you doing them?