Elder Chew Chong Kiat
Should Christians Buy Insurance?
Do you struggle with this question?
Is it a lack of faith to buy insurance when God our Father in heaven promises to take care of us and He will not suffer us to be in want (1Peter 5:7, Psalm 23:1)? Is it a neglect of our human responsibilities if we don’t do anything, when we can, and become a financial burden to our families when we are sick; or when sole bread winners die suddenly, leaving their family destitute?
What does Scripture teach?
The Bible does not deal specifically with insurance (as such provisions were not available in those days) but it does give us many Bible-based principles to guide us in our decision in this matter.
We can buy insurance and sin when we place our confidence in it, for our faith must be in God alone and not in the comprehensiveness of our insurance coverage. (Matthew 6:25-32) We must not be like those in the world, for they know not God and their assurance is in what they possess and in the plans they make. (James 4:13-15) As children of God we can only say after we have bought our insurance: “If the Lord wills, we shall live, and do this, or that.” (James 4:15)
Another way we can sin is to buy insurance and feel that it is a necessary evil which we must yield to, but we feel that we should have trusted in God instead. This is an act that is not in faith. And the Scriptures say in Romans 14:23b “…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
Still, one can sin through negligence and carelessness in the care for one’s family. God’s Word says in 1Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Not to provide when we can due to carelessness or negligence is a sin.
In this matter of insurance different believers may come to different personal convictions as in Romans 14. To get or not to get and how much to get is a matter of conviction and financial ability. Each of us has a responsibility to make up our own minds and we should not judge one another. Roman 14:4 “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
Let’s look further at some Biblical principles to guide us.
1. There is insurance that we are required to purchase by law. Every citizen and PR has to be covered by medical insurance, and every car and home owner has to be covered by car and home insurance respectively. In such cases, as the Bible commands to obey the authorities that is set over us, it is not a sin. Titus 3:1 “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates…”
2. The Scripture praises the wisdom of the ants in providing for themselves meat in summer and the harvest so that there is no want in winter (Proverbs 6:6-11). When God provides us with enough and even excess, we should lay a portion aside for days ahead when we may be in want. One way to do so is to buy insurance. A sole bread winner can prepare for the care of his family through an insurance plan in the event of his early demise or when he is suddenly unable to provide for his dependent family.
The advice by Joseph to Pharaoh (Genesis 41) to store up the excess in the seven years of plenty for the seven years of famine is another example that it is wise to store up sufficiently for rainy days. Noah made preparations for a global flood when instructed and he did so by faith to prepare an ark and to gather the necessary supply for his family and the animals he had to care for. Hebrews 11:7 “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house”
If you are travelling and can afford to buy a travel insurance, it is prudent to get one since such a provision is available today and it is very affordable in comparison to the travel expenses. We need not doubt that “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” God is our keeper in our going out and coming in (Psalm 121:8). But God did not promise that we will neither fall sick nor be injured in our travels. If we are not insured, it may be a financial strain to get the medical attention we need and to be repatriated back home when needed. We cannot boast that we will trust in God to protect and to provide and not make such provisions when we can. It is one thing to go to a Malaria infested region to preach the gospel when called and without any protection because it is unavailable; but it is another altogether when protection is easily available and affordable and to fail to do so. Is it charitable to expect that others in the family and the church should bear the burden because of our neglect? Although as Christians we should bear each other’s burdens and thus fulfil the law, but it behoves each of us to first bear our own burdens and not burden others unnecessarily (Galatians 6:2,5). Besides, I cannot say that it is good Christian testimony to the world to neglect such duties and responsibilities.
3. We should seek God for His wisdom and not trust in ourselves in this matter. Each of our circumstances will be different and what works for one may not work for another. James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” We should seek God’s guidance to do what we can and trust in Him to take care of us, always. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” (Proverbs 3:5-7) Don’t just seek the advice of a financial advisor; look up and ask God to direct you.
4. We must never replace our confidence in God with insurance (Job 31:24-25). Proverbs 3:26 “For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” (Psalm 118:8-9) Buying insurance is to exercise proper stewardship of our resources and to care for our family. To buy many insurance plans to cover every eventuality and say, “I have no worries now for I am fully covered” (c.f. Luke 12:19) is a sinful and foolish attitude of self-confidence that is condemned by James. “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” (James 4:13-15) Whether we have or have not insurance, our confidence must always be in God and we must never boast or glory in our insurance plan (James 4:16).
May God grant us much wisdom as we plan our financial needs as faithful stewards of God’s provision.