FIRST-PERSON: A solid investment
EL CAJON, Calif. (BP) -- Millions of us have experienced the uncertainty of creating a solid investment portfolio as the stock market rises and falls like a rollercoaster. Individual investors, senior citizens with mutual funds, charitable institutions with endowments, and most people who have a pension plan -- have all suffered from the fragile and fluctuating world economy.
Not even the experts know what to do. "One of the funny things about the stock market," said the American publisher William Feather, "is that every time one person buys, another person sells, and both think they are astute."1
It is God who gives us the ability to earn a living and gain wealth (Deuteronomy 8:17-18). The Bible tells us to handle our money as wisely as we can. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus commended the wise stewards who made good investments of what had been entrusted to them. Proverbs 13:11b (NIV) says, "He who gathers money little by little makes it grow." That's why John Wesley famously said, "Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can."
But the Bible's fundamental investment strategy has little to do with accumulating money. Jesus Christ wasn't a stockbroker, but He gave the best investment tip in history when He said: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).
No investment advisor has a better plan. We have entire cable channels like Fox Business Network and Bloomberg Television with talking heads who hawk investment advice day and night. The Wall Street Journal has the largest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, and dozens of magazines are devoted to investment strategy and money management.
But Jesus perfectly understood the law of returns when He said in John 6:27a, "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life." Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." The apostle Paul warned us not to put our hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to be rich in good works, thus laying up a treasure for ourselves as a firm foundation for the coming age (1 Timothy 6:19). We need to take stock of our lives and make sure we're investing ourselves in eternity.
With the world facing one crisis after another, it's hard to imagine a safe place to deposit our money. But when we faithfully tithe or devote our resources to the Kingdom, it propels the Gospel to the world. Souls are saved and heaven is populated. When you support your local church, your funds are transmuted into literature, lives, ministries and missions. You may never see the returns till you get to heaven, but what a joy it will be to run into folks on the golden streets and learn that it was your gift that helped bring them to faith in Christ.
But our investments for Christ go beyond money. We also invest our energy and passion into the work, and this investment comes back to bless us even now. It's perilously easy to become so busy doing what comes next and tackling only those things that seem urgent. But the Bible tells us to give thought to our steps (Proverbs 14:8, NIV). We should begin every day by thinking through our agenda and making time for what is truly important, things that will matter in eternity.
The Bible says, "Do not love the world or the things in the world ... the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:15-17). The investments of this world may crumble, but the time, energy and resources we invest in God's work are solid investments that will pay dividends throughout eternity.
1 Charles J. Corrado and Bradford D. Jordan, Fundamentals of Investments by (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2004), 214.