Is Self-Sufficiency a Biblical Principle?

Now before you start picturing me on my soap box shouting at you about moving off grid and living solely off the land… that’s not what this is.

I think we can probably agree that self-sufficiency is a good thing.  It’s common sense, right?  But for those of us who have chosen to follow Christ, we always want to shine the light of scripture on the decisions that we make in life.  So that led me to the question, what does the Bible say about this way of life that we have chosen?  Is this just some silly whim that my Mountain Man hubby and I have found ourselves following or is there more to it than that?  Are we crazy to be actively working towards a life that does not require him to work a regular 9:00-5:00 job outside the home?

Well, the Lord put some scripture in front of me during my morning devotions a few days ago that about knocked me off of my chair (Proverbs always does that too me, especially early in the morning.)

bible

Proverbs 27:23-27  (NLT)

23 Know the state of your flocks,
    and put your heart into caring for your herds,
24 for riches don’t last forever,
    and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.
25 After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears
    and the mountain grasses are gathered in,
26 your sheep will provide wool for clothing,
    and your goats will provide the price of a field.
27 And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself,
    your family, and your servant girls.

Again, I’m not saying that everyone is supposed to abandon life as they know it  and start farming; however, there is a very clear message here regarding the dependency on money and position as well as dependency on comforts and conveniences handed down by previous generations.

In fact, I believe there are 3 principles in this passage regarding self-sufficiency.

1. Stewardship

vs. 23 Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds.

These days, not everyone has a flock of goats or sheep on the back 40.  But we are all given blessings in our lives that we are to take stewardship of.  Whether it be our animals and fields if we are farming or the career that provides our income we are to “know well” their condition and pay attention to our current financial situation.

So what does this look like in practice?  If you have a farm, are your animals well fed and taken care of, are they ill and in need of doctoring?  Are you caring for your garden well and using up the food that you’ve been blessed with or are you letting it go to waste? And if you are not farming, are you working hard for your employer and proving yourself a valuable employee?  Are you being smart with your money and living within your means? These are all questions that we need to be asking ourselves.  In general, we need to be asking, “am I a good steward?”

2. Money isn’t everything

vs. 24 for riches do not last forever, and the crown may not be passed to the next generation. 

Money and position are fickle things and it is dangerous to become too reliant on our current financial status or the conveniences that make us comfortable. There are no guarantees in life, and if you are living outside your means in order to maintain that status you are putting yourself and your family at great risk. 

It is imperative to plan ahead for the event when that paycheck might not come.  An illness or injury can take away your ability to work outside the home at any time.  Even if you were born into wealth this verse is a clear warning (“…the crown may not be passed to the next generation.”

Whether you are naturally inclined to a “prepper” mindset or not, the fact of the matter is that disaster can strike, whether it be a natural disaster or even war, political unrest, economic collapse… hard times can come and if you aren’t prepared your family will suffer. Have a back up plan, build a savings account that can keep you afloat in hard times and keep a small store of long term storage food and supplies that can sustain your family in the event of an emergency.

3.  There is wisdom in good ole fashioned self-sufficiency.

vs. 25-27  After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears and the mountain grasses are gathered in, your sheep will provide wool for clothing, and your goats will provide the price of a field.   And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself, your family, and your servant girls.

 This passage is pointing to both the wisdom of having a back up plan for provision that is not dependent on others and of the satisfaction of a job well done, reaping the benefits of nature that God has provided us with.  Again, I’m not saying that everyone is supposed to abandon life as they know it and go off grid; however, if you believe in the true infallibility of scripture then you have to take each passage for exactly what it says. There is a beautiful connection between man’s labor and the nurture of God that modern society so often neglects.  He created this world, rich with the things that will sustain us and keep us healthy, and although our world today is making that more and more of a fairytale, we need to get back in touch with that connection between our labor and God’s gifts in and on this earth.

I recently read a wonderful description of self-sufficiency or subsistence living as “removing the middle man” from the equation.  In these modern times most people trade their time and labor for a paycheck in order to acquire food and shelter.  Self-sufficiency simply removes the middle man so that you are working to provide food and shelter in a more direct way.

Take a few moments and read these verses over again.  What is the Lord showing you?  The word of God is living and active, even verses that we may tend to view as “out of date” or “no longer applicable” are meant to encourage us, admonish us and instruct us.  I urge you to apply these verses to your own life today.