God is the perfect partner in any investment program. It is He who supplies all the seed to be planted. We plant it, He multiplies it. So, any investment program ought to be based around multiplying assets that God supplies and returning the bulk of the crop, as pointed out in the parable of the stewards in Luke 19:12-24. The seeds that we retain then bring in a greater harvest the next time. As we show our faithfulness, He will give us even more. Our responsibility is to return it to His work.
Reasons for investing
God's number one prerequisite for investing is always centered on our attitudes. Money can be used for the comfort and convenience of our families. It can be used to provide the needs of others. It can be used to spread the Gospel. Or it can be used for destructive purposes. Money, if misused, as in the case of the rich young ruler recorded in Matthew 19:16-30, can be an object of devotion and idolatry. Love of money has separated families and shattered friendships. Countless marriages have split up over the love of, or the misuse of money. Christians, therefore, must assess why they want to invest and how the surplus from the investments will be used, in the light of God's principles. God is not against prosperity, but He hates evil attitudes that often accompany prosperity. These attitudes include greed, covetousness, and pride. So, since ultimately attitude will determine how an investment surplus is used, it is vital to discover what attitudes God wants us to have.
In addition, there are scripturally sound reasons for investing, and there are unscriptural reasons for investing. If you are investing for the wrong reasons it's like having your ladder leaning against the wrong building. No matter how high you climb, you still end up on the wrong building.
So, first we will evaluate why people invest and accumulate money, and then we'll look at the scripturally sound and unsound reasons for investing.
Why do people invest?
- Others advise it. Many people invest simply because someone else advised them to. They don't have any clear personal plans or goals with regard to their investments. According to God's Word, we are to seek good counsel, but we must weigh all counsel received against His Word. Listen, but seek God's direction before taking action.
- Envy of others. Many people want to invest and accumulate wealth simply because they envy other people and their successes.
- It is a game to them. Many people invest because they consider it to be a competitive game. As such, they often get so wrapped up in the contest that they sacrifice family, friends, or health in order to win the game. They have no particular attachment to the money; it's winning that's important to them.
- Self-esteem and ego. Many want to accumulate wealth so that others will envy them. Those who are victims of this motive use their money in an attempt to buy esteem and bolster their pride and ego. "A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor" (Proverbs 29:23).
- The love of money. Those who love money will not part with it for any reason. Their lives are characterized by hoarding and abasement. This is a type of idol worship, which separates us from God. First Timothy 6:10, Hebrews 13:5, and Luke 9:25 caution against the love of money.
- Protection. Many people accumulate money for protection. This attitude places money as the object of trust and security rather than God.
- Slothfulness. Often people don't plan well during the earlier years of their lives and, consequently, when faced with expenses in their middle or later years, they panic and try to generate in five years what they should have saved over the previous 20 years. A regular habit of spending less than you make and saving the difference is the proper investment plan.
- A spiritual gift. There is only one reason why God would supply a surplus of wealth to a Christian: so the needs of others can be met. If Christians want God to entrust greater riches to them, they must be found faithful in the smaller amount first (Luke 16:10-11). God promises His blessings to all who freely give and promises His curse on those who hoard, steal, covet, or idolize.
What are the scripturally sound and unsound reasons for investing?
There are three scripturally sound reasons for investing.
- Multiply to give more. The parable of the talents recorded in Luke 19:12-26 tells us that God entrusts wealth to some of His stewards so that it will be available to Him at a later date. The management of the wealth requires that it be invested or multiplied.
- Meet future family needs. The indication throughout God's Word is that the heads of families should provide for their own (1 Timothy 5:8). Good planning requires laying aside some of the surplus for future needs.
- Further the Gospel and fund special needs. This type of giving is necessary to maintain and promote the Gospel. If the church is ever to break out of the borrowing habit, Christians who invest must maintain some surpluses and be willing to give to legitimate needs.
There are four unsound reasons for investing.
- Greed. Greed is the desire to continually have more and demand only the best (1 Timothy 6:9).
- Envy. Envy is the desire to achieve based on other people's successes (Psalm 73:3).
- Pride. Pride is the desire to be elevated because of material achievements (1 Timothy 6:17).
- Ignorance. Ignorance is following the counsel of other misguided people because of lack of discernment (Proverbs 14:7).
Once a Christian has accepted the purpose of investing--to serve God better--the crucial decision is how much to invest. This decision must be made after much prayer. In addition, a plan for the use and the distribution of the potential surplus must be made before the money becomes available. Set goals and pray about each goal before attempting to do any investing. If motives are anything but biblical, it would be better to give the money away rather than to risk losing something far more important than money--a relationship with the Lord.
Being rich or being poor is a matter of providence in God's will, and He will give us only what we are capable of handling. The Christian's responsibility is awesome and sobering. God, in His eternal plan, has decided to use us to supply and to fund His work. One day we must all stand before God and give an account of what we have done with His resources. Why does God provide an accumulation of wealth from investing? So His people can exercise giving in order to meet the needs of those who cannot provide for themselves.
Copyright Crown Financial Ministries. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For more information about this and other financial resources, please visit www.crown.org.