Should a Christian Practice Food Storage?

Featured post by Amy from Homestead Revival

There’s a lot out in the blogging community about “getting prepared” (a.k.a. “prepping” or “food storage”) and the people who adhere to this premise typically fall into one of several categories: they either grew up in a culture where this was common (farmers, for example), or they’re hard core survivalists believing that everyone else is the enemy, or they’re doomsdayers who are fearful of the future and sure the world is coming to an end.  Just like a lot of things in this fallen world, there are some truths and good points each group espouses, but none of these philosophies would be consistent with a Christian world view.

Why then, would a Christian prepare? Is it biblical to practice food storage? Would it be a sin to do so? How could a believer even go about prepping without falling into sin? And prepare for what… natural disasters? An enemy? Economic instability? War? Terrorism? With such huge ethical questions to answer, it’s no wonder that most Christians don’t prepare in the least.

To answer these controversial issues, we must turn to the Bible for wisdom. And if you were to do so, you’d find that there are examples of both; where God’s people or individuals prepped for hard times and famine (Genesis 6-7 and 37; Matthew 25: 1-13) and instances when they were called to go without being prepared (Exodus 16; I Kings 17:1-16; Matthew 10).

While there seems to be more examples of people not being prepared in the Bible than those that were actually prepared, I believe that during biblical times, trusting God to literally provide manna from heaven wasn't the norm and preparedness was more of a way of life during Biblical times. (Just do a Bible word search on “store” to get an idea). Food wasn't readily available at a supermarket, so people had to daily think way ahead for food supplies in order to just survive. Hunting, fishing, raising their own food, storing wheat... this was normal. Walking in faith that God would provide at the very moment of need was not!

What’s important to grasp from the Scriptures is that in both categories, God provided. Sometimes God provided in advance before the event occurred while at other times He provided at the moment of the actual need, during the crisis, or even afterward. But it all came from Him. And it still does!

Since there isn’t a specific biblical command not to prepare or store up food, I think it’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that a Christian can prep without being in sin.  But why would a believer want to or feel the need to do so?

Any number of scenarios might require a believer to be prepared, from the very possible financial crisis to the less likely terrorist attack. Since we do not know what tomorrow may bring (Proverbs 27:1; James 4:13-15), we would be foolish indeed to assume that everything will always remain stable in a fallen world. This isn’t Mayberry and there’s an enemy out to destroy us (I Peter 4:8). And anyone watching, listening, or reading the news lately would most likely agree that the world as we have known it is fragile indeed.

Often in the past, Christians have avoided storing food based on Luke 12:16-20, but I believe they are misinterpreting that passage of scripture when they do so. The issue was not that the man in Luke 12 stored food. All farmers store food. And this farmer had barns already, which he had used in the past. The sin came to fruition when he became proud, selfish, and didn’t acknowledge God who had provided for him. Unfortunately, this is still true today, and many who store up food and supplies miss this point and end up becoming fearful, stingy, and paranoid. (Yes, those are ugly words, but sin IS ugly!).

All preparations should be made with the intent to share both food and the good news with the less fortunate, our neighbors who are truly in need, and the vulnerable in our society (elderly, orphan, widow, handicapped, physically infirm, etc.). There are plenty of examples in the Bible that speak to this, but the one that is both comforting and chilling can be found in Matthew 25:31-46 where Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats – those that took care of the stranger or their neighbor and those that did not. After reading the passage, there is no doubt in my mind that we must maintain our food stores with an open hand.

Sadly, there always has been and will always be those who do not feel the need to prepare nor be ready to share. God knew this would be the case and so He gave us several reminders in scripture that speak about the fool as the one who is not prepared:

Proverbs 21:20 - “There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up.”

Proverbs 6:6-9 - “Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest. How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?”

Proverbs 30:24-25 - “Four things are small on the earth, But they are exceedingly wise: The ants are not a strong people, But they prepare their food in the summer;”

Which presumes upon God and is more arrogant and foolish:

  • Being self controlled enough to set aside some food each week into storage for hard times or presuming that the grocery store will always have what you need when you want it?
  • Saving three months worth of extra food like you save extra cash in the bank for emergencies, large purchases, and needs or eating everything in your pantry each week and assuming you’ll have an opportunity to buy more later?
  • Working diligently to put up extra canned goods, water, batteries, and such for a natural disaster or depending on FEMA to be at your door within 24 hours of a crisis?
  • Keeping a spirit of hospitality in your heart and adding a bit more food than your family needs at the moment to the pantry in order to be ready to share with a friend or stranger in need or thinking only of your own family’s needs with the attitude that others will provide for them (like the government perhaps)?

I’ll be the first to agree that we can’t prepare for everything and some disasters could wipe out all we’ve set aside. We’ve seen what earthquakes, tsunamis, and tornados can do.  Do not let that fact keep you from being faithful with what God has already graciously bestowed.  And who knows?  If your food storage is suddenly gone, perhaps He’ll provide for your own family from someone’s food storage who has wisely prepared as well!

Amy stepped into the world of homesteading a little over 12  years ago when she embarked on a food journey that took her on new adventures in gardening, keeping chickens, beekeeping, learning about goats, and many more fascinating things. Her desire is to become God-sufficient and pass on her love for homesteading to her three daughters and the next generation!  She shares about all this and more at her blog, Homestead Revival.  Be sure to pop by and say hello!

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    Comments

    1. Robin says:

      Thank you for this post. I have been struggling with this concept for a while now, being a bit turned off by the “You have to have a year’s worth of everything” crowd, but still feeling like I needed to store up some for the future. This view makes sense to me. What a relief to understand the scriptural basis! – Robin

    2. Betty says:

      Thank you for the interesting post. I had struggled with this for years because I live in Florida. Every summer, we are all encouraged to stock up on non-perishables, water, batteries, etc. I would go back and forth every year about whether this was a good practice for my Christian family. If I stockpile foodstuffs and medical supplies in case a hurricane comes through, am I then not trusting the Lord to provide. Then my husband and had a strong urge to be more prepared and actually have several months worth of food and supplies stored up. I thought we were crazy right up until I say the story of Joseph in a whole new light. Joseph’s storing up of grain and rationing it to the people of Egypt wasn’t the result of a disbelief in God’s provision. Let’s face it. Joseph loved God, even through all of his trials and tribulations. No, Joseph was following what God called him to do. Thank you for presenting even more scripture to back up this “common sense” way to live.

    3. Good post, I was surprised you did not bring up Matthew 6:26-34,… Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?…
      I think some are called to store more than others and certainley we should prepare but some take it to a hoarding level. If your focus is right and your common sense is in tact like yours seems to be, I think it is a great thing. Some take it too far into a doomsday type of thing and that has been a latest turn off to me, like you said the “preparing” posts have been abundant lately in the blogging world. I like how you addressed that and brought it with scripture, that is the most important. It will put some perspective into many people today so thank you :) I think it is smart to be prepared for emergencies but if we are losing sleep over then next catastrophe we are living in fear and God doesn’t want us to fear or worry either. Just trust in Him and make sure we have everything ok in our hearts for when that day comes. Plus it makes life on earth so much better :)
      I think your suggestions are very realistic and have a great message :)

    4. What a wonderful well-balanced perspective…thank you!

    5. Margaret says:

      Very well-written post. I am realizing the need to have a garden and to store up some of the produce for all our family and others.

    6. angel says:

      I always think of Proverbs 31:21 too. I thin kit is ok to prepare, or to save extra in the summer for the winter as long as your heart is right with the Lord.

    7. Thanks for this very thoughtful post. My family has really tried to seek God’s will on this subject as well, and we’ve come to similar conclusions. I think one key thing that made a difference for us was realizing that until about 75 years ago, if you didn’t have food set aside (for winter, etc.), you were either too impoverished to prepare or an idiot…having food in the root cellar was the only way to survive, aside from depending on the generosity of others. Our dependence on the modern supply change is convenient, but not necessarily responsible.

    8. Having had more than a year’s worth of food and tolietries stored, and having had to live on it for a couple of years (when we went without income), I can say that it is wise to be prepared. Why see food as any different than money in a savings account? Would you say it is foolish to save money for a child’s education, or for retirement? No, most would not. Food is not different; in fact, it used to be the norm for every household to store food. It is only in the last 60 years that society has stopped being prepared for a rainy day. Storing food has the additional blessing of saving you money from inflation. Also, should your income be stopped, the money you have in the bank can go towards paying utitlities and for your shelter, and you can eat from just your pantry.

      As my family has sought to be prepared, we have seen our food being multiplied, and many times I have felt as the widow of Zarapeth. The prophet Elijah came to visit her many years into the famine. She was on her last meal (but if she had lasted that many years, she had to have had something stored). He blessed her food that it would not run out until the famine was ended. She shared her very last meal, and she was blessed.

      It’s been 4 years for us, and I continue to see miracles every day. We have seen our stores increased, as the widow of Zarapeth did. I couldn’t afford to buy any food last month, but we received manna from heaven. As we seek to prepare our families for economic uncertainties, God blesses us, beyond measure.

      • Jaime says:

        Brandy, I’m so glad you came by and left a comment! I always love to hear from you; in many ways, Amy’s post here today parallels your guest post here awhile back. I feel both honored and humbled to have hosted you and Amy on LABB.

        Sending much love, fervent prayers, and big hugs your way ~
        Jaime

    9. Karen says:

      Thank you so much for sharing! I love this post. As farmers we are always storing what we have in Summer to be stored away for winter, but we are also storing with the thoughts of our neighbors. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring and what better way to share the Lord’s goodness than to have food for neighbors, especially during times of crisis. When people are needy then is a very important time to reach out with Jesus and the message of Salvation. I think we just need to keep our hearts right. We are not storing up our treasures, or working our salvation by storing (as some may believe), we are having wisdom. Wisdom is what we are told to get. And most of all not storing up with fear. Fear isn’t of the Lord and He doesn’t have us store up food for that reason. He wants us to learn dependance on Him. If our heart doesn’t stay true to His provision, we aren’t getting His blessing. I have learned this one the hard way :(

    10. This is a great post. The balance is always do what you can and trust God always! I believe it is a very good idea to store food and provisions as you shared. However, as in our case, we have hit some extremely difficult times financially. Thankfully we do garden extensively and live frugally. But it makes it very difficult to store up food. Even so, beyond our garden (which will provide much food for the following year, if all goes well), we probably have at least 2-3 months worth of grains and beans. It would be tight though. Just like so many areas in the Lord, we have to find the balance of trusting God, but not being presumptuous. That will probably look a little different for each of us.

      • Heather,

        Even as we live on what we have stored, we have found ways to build our food storage. A garden is a great part of that. I have been freezing blackberries every day this week from our garden.

        Last year, we ate and restocked our pantry for .70 per person a day. I’m so glad that we did; not only have I already not bought food for a month, but I’m looking at possibly not buying any more food for this year. To say things are tight for us would be putting it mildly. We are very underemployed, and I don’t know when we will be able to buy food, or clothing, or anything, really, for quite some time.

        If you need some meal ideas using what you have, please come visit my site. I have 2 weeks of pantry-only meals, plus 4 months of seasonal meals. Right now we’re eating for .50 to $1 per meal (for all of us) for our family of 8.

    11. Jaime, what a great post! I thoroughly enjoyed readying it! And am so excited for you that Katie from Kitchen Stewardship linked to your page regarding this post. I hope this results in you gaining many new fans! I am going to post this to my FB page as well, as I think it’s so important for all of us to keep a biblical perspective of trusting in the Lord and being ready to share with others in need. Another point that is near and dear to my heart is to not waste food and by properly storing food, I am able to better use everything that I buy and make and not let anything go to waste. It can also be extremely frugal to store food, which is also part of being a good steward. As Amy points out, the focus should remain on being thankful to God and trusting in Him as our provider, not on relying on ourselves. I agree that the sin of the man storing food in his barn centered on his pride – he viewed all of his blessings as the result of his own well doing, and sinfully/pridefully did not acknowledge God as the true provider and therefore he did not give thanks to Him and defer to Him. May the Lord help us to always thankfully give all praise and glory to Him as our provider, savior and King! Blessings, Kelly <3

    12. Kristina says:

      Thank you for this! I was asking the Lord about this today, and here’s my answer!

    13. Stephanie says:

      I like the fact that you encourage people to be prepared. Having basic supplies has been greatly helpful to me and my family in the not atypical situations where water mains break, electricity goes out, roads get cut off, or city water is undrinkable. Maintaining some basic supplies is common sense and people of all religions should do their best to be prepared.

      The questions remains, though, how much is realistic? I live in a studio apartment. I easily store two weeks of non-perishable food. However, given the studio element, three months is not really feasible unless you refer back to the post 9/11 architecture diagrams that include building your furniture from cans/water jugs. In addition, I find that I would have to eat considerably more canned items than usual to fresh my stock annually. The nuts, crackers, peanut butter, tuna, dried fruit, and home canned fruit, I have no problem fitting into my normal diet!

      Simiarly, I’d like to highlight the importance of sharing not only in an emergency, but also beforehand. Giving to charity and the needy is something we are all familiar with, but the ancient concept of gleaning– allowing widows and childrens/the poor to pick from fields after the farmer is done harvesting– is an incredibly efficient way to use all our resources to the utmost. I’d encourage anyone searching for another way to help to find a gleaning organization (modern groups typically glean and give to food pantries, soup kitchens, or homeless shelters) or start one in their area.

    14. angie says:

      I enjoyed reading your post and believe that we help our selves because God helps us We can always depend on him to care for us but we also must do our part and use the knowledge that he gave us come visit me at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

    15. Roberta says:

      I think that the Lord wants us to have a prepared home in ALL matters …. Spiritual, Financial, Temporal …. in having these things we need not lean on anyone to privide for our families. We are not dependent on anyone else, thus being “in debt” to anyone else. When we are prepared in any matters, no one “owns” us, so to speak. We are instructed to not have debt of any kind. If we prepare and provide for our families then we won’t need to go into debt for whatever we may need.

      On the other hand ….. if for whatever reason we are not prepared for whatever reason, we must have faith that God WILL provide for us regardless …. and he will. BUT even though we have faith and know he will …. it may still make our lives harder and cause more undo stress then we would have needed to endure had we just prepared in the first place. Build our home on Stone so it’s strong and secure.

      We do practice Food Storage …. not because I feel that God will not provide for my family in time of need, but because I am commanded FIRST as a Proverbs 31 Women to do so. We also have no financial debt and owe no one. We are a slave to no man and we are totally and only dependant on the Lord for all our needs.

    16. I’m so glad you posted this because this entire discussion has never made my radar! I’ve never questioned if my food storage in any way indicated a lack of faith. I always just thought it was good stewardship. I think the test of faith comes from – would I be willing to share my food storage? If called upon, could I trust God enough to share my stores with those He calls me to and trust that He will replenish them.

    17. I’m so glad to have come across this post! My family is currently involved in a 30 turned 40 day experiment called the Manna Principles that we decided to do as a way to live daily for that time. In no way am I against prepration because we are called to it. In a society like ours, though, we wanted to do this to teach our kids that they need to trust God in all circumstances because he provides daily, with or without us. I’ve been journaling daily and we have gained a lot of insight. I never thought of preparation as a sin and its interesting to know some think of it that way. There is a difference between storing for preparation and hoarding. I love your perspective and I will share it with my kids at the end of the 40 days. Thank you! If you can, I would love for you to read our journey on my blog and let me know what you think.

      Blessings,
      Grisel

    18. Laura says:

      I’m glad I read this post! Funny thing is, I’m single, 43, a missionary currently in Mozambique, a very poor country. Yet I think frequently about the future and how I can live simply and as independently as possible. (like having a garden, chickens and goats and fishing in my cousin’s river!) My mind has just seemed to go there so often, not in fear or anxiety, in interest. I have been asking God if he is trying to prepare me for something! Only after that have I started reading blogs about natural living. I never even knew there was a “preparation” movement, so to speak, but I’m glad to read your post to have my thoughts turn to Biblical consideration for my choices. Blessings, Laura

    19. Heather says:

      Thank you so much for graciously and succinctly dealing with this issue. We live this way as well, and I can not tell you how many times I have heard this argument from brothers and sisters in Christ who think I do what I do in a fear-based frame of mind rather than relying on the provision of the Lord. I always take them right back to the Word and show them the story of Joseph, or of the proverb of the ant. Because of my food storage, I have been able to welcome many many people to my table I would not otherwise be able to share with on a small income, and support other families who have hit some rough patches. Bless you so much. (I am actually doing a six week series on Making Do Without Missing a Thing at http://www.thewelcominghouse.blogspot.com that deals with the basics of using and growing your food storage!!)

    20. Thank you for posting this. I’m just now digging into the “should I as a Christian be prepping and for what?” phase, so to speak.

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