Today’s Bible readings
The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. – Proverbs 21:5
The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down. – Proverbs 21:20
Better is a little with righteousness than vast revenues without justice – Proverbs 16:8
Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? – Luke 16:10-11
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. – Matthew 6;20
Ship your grain across the sea;
after many days you may receive a return.
Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight;
you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. — Ecclesiastes 11:1-2
Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. (KJV)
More thoughts for meditation
Jesus talks in economic metaphors all the time. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Store up some resources, beef up your savings account, make an investment. The Lord uses the terms, which make common sense, to point an uncommon direction. He points right through the here and now into the age to come. Does he mean we’ll be welcomed into eternity if we have enough in our spiritual accounts? No. But he does mean people who give their energy and imagination to eternity are fit to live there. What’s more, they avoid getting ripped off by hucksters getting them to invest in junk.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with wealth. God’s the one who generously gives people success with resources and money (Ecclesiastes 5:19). But when we become more concerned about the gifts rather than the giver, possessions become toxic and pointless (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Obsession with wealth ruins our relationship with God and with other people. At the same time, Qoheleth gives some pretty astute investment advice, above – diversify, you fool!
God cares more about the condition of our hearts than the condition of our investment portfolio (or lack of one). That’s why He shows us what’s best for us and our possessions: What’s valuable both now and in eternity is what God cares about most: love, forgiveness, treating people right,and loyalty (Matthew 23:23, Micah 6:8). We’re meant to use possessions and love people, not love possessions and use people. Our eternal perspective affects our earthly priorities.
After telling a parable in which a boss is impressed by the shrewd dishonesty in the man he is about to fire, Jesus says, “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” Jesus admires strategic use of the present financial system. He certainly looks like a shrewd, dishonest steward, doesn’t he, to the people who eventually kill him!? He’s all about his own purposes and not in line with their goals at all. We’re called to be that serious about what we are doing, too.
Suggestions for action
Investment is a deep word in the mouths of Jesus followers. It implies we have something to invest: a character that makes godly choices, a community that is worth our hearts, s conviction that frees us from slavery to the world’s ways, and an imagination for what the Spirit might grow with the little we have. What small thing, financial or not, are you given to be faithful in today? Start somewhere.
Investing money is about creating wealth for most people — that is the goal of capitalism, right? But investment should be about one’s spiritual legacy: What we are given to give to the world? What is our best shot at moving transformation along? Investment is about building something that is bigger than just our own wealth. Circle of Hope is our most immediate “something” that we build together. But that tool we’ve built is for building something bigger than itself, too. We can see what it builds when we explore what our investment in MCC does, or when we can dare to spend our savings to plant another congregation, or in how we invest in the lives of our leaders and staff and maintain our properties and businesses. The people and properties are a sign of commitment to the future. We are people who plant fruit trees as the planet warms and the wars rage. Meditate on what vision moves you. Are you a serious investor in God’s purposes?