Oct 14 2018 Biblical Wisdom in Saving and Investing
14th October 2018
I apologize if I’ve shared this anecdote before, but several years ago I was getting ready to go jogging with my friend Rich – so I grabbed an old shirt off the dryer and put it on. My wife, Melissa, looked at me and said – you can’t wear that! That’s one of the car washing rags I just washed! You don’t want to wear rags to Rich’s! (wait for groan)… I’ve heard that when you speak about finances, it’s good to start with a rags to riches story!
We’ve been spending 2018 going through the Wisdom books of the Bible, and most recently, Mike was sharing about our attitudes toward money, having taken a break last week to talk about Baptism.
Looking back over the past several messages, I encourage you to go online to watch/listen/read if you missed any of them:
This week I would like to talk about the Wisdom in Saving and Investing for the Future– but this is really building on Sep 30 – where Mike talked about our heart attitudes toward wealth and poverty – so if you weren’t here that week, I ESPECIALLY encourage you to go back and check that out.
Let’s pray: Lord, thank You for this series on Wisdom. As we have discovered – Wisdom is embodied in You – in Jesus Christ – and you’ve commanded us to seek Wisdom and to ask You for Wisdom – so it is with humble hearts that we ask You to give us Wisdom in our finances – Wisdom in accumulating wealth not for our own benefit but for the benefit of You and others. You have spoken extensively on Wisdom in our finances – so we ask You to speak to us today, through Your word. Again, make us wise stewards of all You’ve given us. In Jesus’ Name we pray.
Mike already spoke (September 9) about our attitudes toward money and finances – how we need to be careful to not serve money as a master, as we can’t serve two masters. How we are to not trust in our money, but we should trust in God. He spoke of how we need to be content – whether we are rich or poor – and to find our contentment in Christ. He addressed that those who desire to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge ones into ruin and destruction. So before we address saving and investing, we must have the right heart attitude.
You might ask – Is investing a legitimate scriptural principle? Didn’t Jesus specifically forbid “laying up for yourself treasures on earth?” I’ll give you a hint – the key word of that sentence is “YOURSELF” – that we are to not save up for the sole purpose of becoming rich or enriching ourselves. Jesus clarified:
Luke 12:13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Jesus was an expert at getting to the heart of a matter.
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
There are many other biblical principles that support wise saving and investing, and I’d like to highlight many of them for you today – but the first principle highlighted here is that we must first be rich toward God before we begin investing – and it can’t be about storing up treasure for ourselves. That goes back to the heart attitude that Mike talked about last month.
Let me give you a little background on what Christian Financial advisers recommend before you can even get to saving and investing…
Through the years, many of us at Grace Summit have done Bible studies that relate to using our finances wisely. Several years ago, we went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Mike referenced it a couple weeks ago when he talked about applying the ‘Debt Snowball’ – this is the practice of doing whatever you can to get out of debt (as we know, the borrower is slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7)) – and taking the smallest loan you have, paying it off, and then applying what you were paying on that to the next loan and so on until all your loans are paid off. After your tithe, other practical things that Christian financial advisers recommend is to have a $1000 emergency fund, pay off the debt, then to have 3-6 months’ salary in savings in case you are out of work for a time. Beyond that, the recommendation is to invest 15% of your household income into Roth IRA’s and pre-tax retirement funds.
So what should our attitudes be toward saving and investing for the future?
I think the first financial Bible study I went through was called Crown Ministries – which has influenced much of what I have to say here today. One of the verses we memorized was from Proverbs 21:20 which says , The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.
Proverbs 21:5 Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty.
There is wisdom in preparing for the future and taking into account various possibilities.
Why should we save and invest? I think the first answer is found in a verse Mike shared recently:
1 Timothy 5:8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
That is a pretty strong admonition to save wisely! But beyond providing for our families, I believe God blesses us that we might be financially free to bless others. Imagine being financially independent – so that in ‘retirement’ you could be generous with both your time and your money!
I’ve preached before how God used Joseph to save for the future and save his family and all of Egypt from a terrible famine. We don’t know what the future holds, so it is wise to be prepared:
Proverbs 22:3 A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
First – we need to foresee the difficulties – then we need to prepare for them. This also entails not going blindly on and suffering the consequences!
In most relationships – there is a spender and a saver – the spontaneous YOLO and the prudent pessimist. Dave Ramsey refers to it as the “Free Spirit” and the “Nerd” – He writes:
“Nerds enjoy putting together the monthly budget and calculating the numbers. They like that it gives them a sense of security, and they feel like they’re taking care of their loved ones. Free spirits don’t want to have anything to do with the numbers and tend to “forget” about a budget. They may feel controlled or not cared for, and appear irresponsible to the nerd. This can be a dangerous combination that leads to problems in your money and your marriage.”
In any type of investment – money/time/relationship – it is much easier to make a decision if you know your priorities. Similarly - before you budget, you and your nerd spouse (or free spirit spouse, if you’re the nerd) will need to determine your priorities so that it is easier to come to a decision on how to spend your hard-earned money.
I was at a neighborhood picnic yesterday and was discussing this with some financially savvy and solid Christian friends of mine. One of the things that they mentioned – as Christians, you will be asked to give to MANY different people and organizations beyond your regular tithe. By developing a philosophy of prioritization, you can make better decisions regarding what people and ministries you will choose to support – and whether you would support the ministry with a one-time gift or ongoing monthly support. Having decided on this prioritization ahead of time makes it easier to make the decision. The husband, Tim, gave a for-instance – “maybe you’ve decided to support orphans or clean water - if the ministry supports your priority, you can give freely and generously.”
One of the most important steps to saving for the future is to create a budget. If you don’t know where your money is going, at the end of the month, you won’t know where your money went – and if you don’t know where your money went, you will discover that there is too much month at the end of the money!
There are many tools available to create a solid budget – There are free apps such as Every Dollar, Mint, and YNAB (You need a budget).
Proverbs 22:4 True humility and respect for the Lord lead one to riches, honor, and long life.
This verse emphasizes our heart attitude – and reminds us that God operates on a different economy than we do.
The next few verses deal with the fact that God’s economy is different from the world’s economy:
Proverbs 22:9 He who is generous will be blessed
Proverbs 11:24 One person is generous and yet grows more wealthy, but another withholds more than he should and comes to poverty.
Proverbs 11:25 A generous person will be enriched, and the one who provides water for others will himself be satisfied.
I like the second one there –Proverbs 11:24 – in the world’s economy it doesn’t make sense – if you are generous, you are giving your money away – and yet that is the person who grows more wealthy – and then there is the person who hangs onto his wealth and is not generous and he comes to poverty.
Each of these verses reinforces the fact that God is in control of our wealth and we need to give Him control of our lives.
Is there any Biblical advice for HOW we should invest?
Just to be clear – I cannot give you any specific investing advice – what might seem like a good investment today can turn into a terrible investment tomorrow. I know someone who was investing in Enron and WorldCom when they were pennies on the dollar – right before they went bankrupt!
However – I do want to give you principles – like the first one mentioned above –
Steady Plodding brings prosperity – when we are consistent with our giving, saving, and investing, we will make progress.
Eccl 11: 1 Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return. 2 Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.
So the Biblical recommendation (remember, this is Wisdom literature!) is to diversify our investments! Why? You don’t know what type of disaster may strike – like the old saying goes – don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
3 – don’t let fear dictate your investment strategy, and be faithful in the little things
Matthew 25 highlights someone who allowed fear to dictate his investment strategy:
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
So again, don’t let fear dictate your investment strategy.
4 – Avoid risky investments or get-rich-quick schemes – Mike talked about this a couple weeks ago.
Proverbs 20:21 An inheritance gained easily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end.
Proverbs 28:20 A faithful person will be richly blessed,
but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished…
22 The stingy are eager to get rich
and are unaware that poverty awaits them.
Did you know that in 2016, more than 117 billion dollars were spent in casinos – add to that about another 80 billion on lottery tickets. I’ve often said that lotteries are a tax on people who are bad at math!
5 – Count the cost
Luke 14: 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
Inheritance and Life Insurance - Proverbs 13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.
This tells me that we need to be in this for the long haul. If steady plodding brings prosperity, what do you suppose steady plodding for a lifetime accomplishes? Hopefully it can bring prosperity not only to you, but to your grandchildren as well!
Life insurance is one of the most important and unselfish things you can do for your family. Do you have a will? If you don’t have a will – the state will decide who gets your assets. If you have a will, you can direct those assets to your beneficiaries and even to further the work of God through ministries.
Again, the goal of investing is not to make ourselves rich, but to allow us to become financially independent so that we can be generous with our time, money, and resources.
Do you consider yourself to be rich? I think it is all a comparison game. Compared to most people who have ever lived, even the poorest in this room are some of the wealthiest people ever. I’ve heard it said that someone who is rich is anyone who has more than I do!
I know not everyone is in a position to make financial investments. But there are other, more important, ways that we can invest our lives. We can invest our time in ministries - like we heard from Chris Bernhart and Larry Santis a couple weeks ago who volunteer for Urban Vision and the Haven of Rest, respectively. We can invest our time in relationships – like Marianne and Suzanne and Alycia and so many others helping to coordinate Women’s times – and all the life-group leaders who invest in people. Also, when you participate in a life-group, you are investing in each of the families there.
While it is important to be able to provide for our families, it is even more important to invest in eternity. That’s why I’m so thankful for Pastor Mike – who invests his life into each of us – faithfully teaching us God’s word that we can bring in a harvest for the kingdom of God.
I’ve heard it said that there are only 3 things that will last for eternity – God/The Word of God, and the souls of men – When Jesus says we need to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven – these are the things to be investing in.
Let me put in a plug here for investing in the Word of God – by spending time with the Lord in His word, He can speak and give you wisdom for whatever situation you are facing. It is an investment that will last for eternity.
One of my favorite stanzas is by missionary CT Studd – “Only one life ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Let’s make our investments last for eternity.
Before we leave – I do have a couple more statements to make – and the first is a disclaimer:
The information provided from this pastor, Grace Summit, and GraceSummit.com and accompanying material is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. Markets will fluctuate and risk is inherent in any investment. Your mileage may vary.
However - There *is* one investment that is a sure thing – a direct promise from God:
1 John 5:12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
That is a sure investment - when we invest our lives in Jesus, we will reap a return for eternity.
Think of that - some have no confidence in their salvation... I think of John 5:24
John 5:24 He who hears My word and believes on Him who sent me HAS eternal life.
Present tense - HAS eternal life
Make your life count, not only for your own sake. By having Jesus in your life, there is a promise - when we have the Son, we have the life - and John wrote these things that we may KNOW that we have eternal life. It is the only sure investment that there is.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the wisdom of your word - there are these guiding principles that we can follow. Give us wisdom to know how You would like us to invest our lives, time, resources, and our finances - that we would be good stewards of all that You give - for Your name's sake. If there is anyone who doesn't know for sure that he or she is destined for eternity with You - I pray that they would study the Scriptures this week; You said that those who seek You would find You - and You have given us clear instruction - He who hears My word and believes on Him who sent me HAS eternal life. Help us to have a saving knowledge of You. We pray all these things in Jesus' name. Amen.