|Should a Christian purchase insurance?|
Should a Christian purchase insurance?
A lack of faith?
Some Christians consider purchasing life insurance a lack of faith. They site Matthew 6:24-34 as that the Lord will take care of the future so we don’t need to worry.
Laying up treasure
The key idea of this passage is the attitude of worry and the priority of the things of God. Worry about future scarcity causes us to spend our energy and lives making sure we will have enough to live on, or in our case, live abundantly. Soon, however, we wake up and discover that our lives have been spent on trivial pursuits. We missed what should have been the meaning of our lives – love for God, service for the Master – “the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” Matthew 6 is a warning about being too obsessed with accumulating money. “Laying up treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:20) is to collect so much wealth that our hearts and minds are no longer on God’s things. Materialism defeats our spirituality.
There are other passages in the scripture that tell us how wise it is to save some money for future problems.
Insurance, whether in the form of a policy sold by a company, or saving food for future times of hunger is an intelligent plan. Joseph essentially created a disaster relief plan for the entire world of his time when he stored seven years of wheat in advance of the famine (Genesis 41:34).
A normal business practice
We prepare for disaster and uncertainty in all kinds of situations even if we don’t buy formal insurance policies. Ships have lifeboats, small planes have parachutes, and cars carry spare tires. Are such emergency measures evidence of a lack of faith or are they just common sense planning?
Purchasing insurance demonstrates proper planning. God clearly wants us to provide for our families as demonstrated in 1Timothy 5:8: “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”.
Insurance practices began in ancient times with Chinese, Babylonian and later Greek merchants paying fees to cover the cost of lost cargo in case of pirates or storms sinking their ships. Informal social agreements in villages spread risk through the people by agreeing to rebuild neighborhood barns or houses in case of fire. In Rome, 'Benevolent Societies' were formed to help members in case of a family death, essentially creating life insurance. In Europe the expansion of industry and global trade brought more formal insurance practices into play. In 1688, Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house where traders, ship captains and merchants were frequent customers. The trading of insurance policies among patrons lead to an insurance market that has become today to be called Lloyds of London.
Impact on others
Purchasing insurance not only is good for the individual, it is an act of kindness to their friends and family. Uninsured families put a tremendous burden on their friends when a health disaster does occur. Rather than forego expensive treatments or die because of heart attacks, cancer, kidney transplants etc. those who have “depended on God” for their well-being have to turn to friends to pay their bills. This essentially reverts to the agrarian days of depending on neighbors in time of need before there were insurance instruments.
If your church does have an understanding among its members of depending on one another for medical expenses and property damage, it has essentially entered into an informal insurance agreement. There also exist Christian medical cooperatives in which premiums are paid directly to help other member believers with their expenses. This system is essentially a group medical insurance plan with lower administration costs than most for-profit insurance companies. They also are unregulated by the government so are likely to have less capital reserves to cover major disasters.
Many types of insurance are now legally required to be purchased. Liability insurance is required in order to license a car. House insurance is required to qualify for a bank loan. Farmers are required to purchase crop insurance. In many countries health insurance is required by everyone either provided or mandated by the government.
Everyone has some form of insurance whether formal or informal. When a disaster does strike, the insurance companies, the government or the charity of friends will pay the bill. The prohibition of Matthew 6 to not “lay up treasure on earth” addresses the misguided mentality of people who live exclusively for making more money instead of seeking first the kingdom of God. When insurance is used properly, it spreads the expenses of disasters over a larger group. Lessoning the impact of a problem helps all of society.
Shad David Sluiter
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