Sunday, August 29, 2010

Importance of Saving

Gen 41:34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.

Many people claim that the bible is not applicable to the modern world. They say that its old book and it is of no use in the modern world. But Bible is relevant even today for our moral values and our present situations.

Today I am going to bring to you a very old but true incident from the bible and discuss how it is still relevant to our life even today. I will put before you the story of Joseph and how much it is applicable to today’s life. Our chapter of discussion will be from Genesis 41 and 47:13-24. A short gist of the incident is as follows.

The King Pharaoh of Egypt has two dreams and he is very disturbed by these dreams. He wants someone to interpret the dream for him. But nobody is able to interpret the dream. The chief butler informs the Pharaoh that butler’s dream was interpreted by Joseph (who is in prison) two years back. Pharaoh immediately summons Joseph. Joseph comes before the dreams and listens to the dream and God gives him the interpretation and he gives Pharaoh the right interpretation of the dream. He says that there is going to be seven years of plenty and then the seven years of famine. Then he tells the King Pharaoh to gather a fifth of the land’s produce and gather them during the seven years of plenty and use them during the next seven years of Famine.

Each and every month we earn our salaries. The government demands that we pay about a tenth of our salary as income tax. Some even don’t pay that much. The remaining ninety percent is with us to spend for our livelihood. This is similar to the Pharaoh gathering one fifth of the land’s produce from the people into the barn. Everybody paid it. The importance of the issue is not with the fifth or tenth that we give to the government but the remaining that is with us. During Joseph’s time, we can infer that people didn’t believe in Joseph’s interpretation.
Let us discuss how the grain may have been used by the Egyptians during the period of plenty. The 20 percent went as tax for Pharaoh. (This may be the earliest form of taxation and can prove that taxes were based from the bible). The other needs may be for food (for themselves, their servants and their livestock), for sowing and to meet the basic needs like shelter and clothing. Attributing a twenty percent on each would mean they would still be left with 20 percent. But those seven years were years of plenty which meant that whatever they sow, they would have received a minimum of 10 fold increases(best output a ground could provide).Let us assume that for eating they spent 20 percent for sowing some 10 Percent. Of the remaining 50 percent let us say that they used another 20 percent for the basic needs like clothing and shelter. Still 30 percent of their resources were available which I think the people misused for their pleasure. Some may question that even if they saved 30 percent how can you say that it will be enough for seven years of severe famine. The answer is that if pharaoh saved just a fifth of the produce and could feed the entire world, then saving the 30 % of the produce would certainly have saved them during famine. The problem is that they didn’t. They never tried to save during the years of plenty. But rather they spend all they had on themselves.
In the same way, we even spend so much for our pleasure than saving them. We are paying on an average about 15 percent as tax to the government and the remaining we spend for us. We never know when a crisis is going to come. So it is better that we get prepared for any crisis. It is true that the Egyptians never imagined the severity of the famine. In the same way it is better that we start saving all as much as we can without compromising on our basic needs. If we don’t then we might enter into severe problems.
The fifth of the land’s produce was not meant to be used for Egypt but rather as blessing for all other nations of the world. But since the Egyptians didn’t save any, they had to buy food from Pharaoh. As a result, they came to Joseph (who was second in command) and spent all their money for food. Next they bought food for their cattle and then they sold their lands for food thereby becoming like servants to Pharaoh. Even today (after about 3000 years) this is exactly what is happening. When we are in need of money we keep our lands, jewels in our bank for money. If we are unable to pay then we lose the land. Nowadays it has become very easier for us to get loans that we try to buy all that we desire with loans, low interest EMI. It is the right time that we realize that we must save each and every hard earned penny for our uncertain future. Insurances might help us during crisis, but off course they take your hard earned money for something that might happen rarely. I am neutral on the issue of insuring. If we don’t think about saving money then we will lose all our rights (money, possessions, and fundamental rights) just like the Egyptians during Joseph’s time.
Let us start saving and keep our rights and possessions with ourselves and not sell it to rich people(and government) by not saving.