It is God’s desire that we do all things in life with Him. Investing His resources is no exception. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ does not exclude investment making decisions. The truth is that investment actions taken outside of His counsel do not please Him. They are faithless. A follower of Christ, having taken such actions, should use this as an opportunity to assess the error of his self-confidence. The benefit of this light could cause him to be as a child, desiring a closer relationship with his Father and not a fool, justifying holes in his heavenly citizenship. If humility wins out, the Holy Spirit will guide Him in the path of Christ.
I am a big supporter of creation science ministries, such as Answers in Genesis. A person who does not understand that God created the natural world, will never know His spiritual design for our union with Him. Consider how Jesus described the workings of this design:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:1-8; ESV)
Notice that Jesus did not say: “Be a nice person, do good works, go to a building that man calls a church at least once a week, invest in socially responsible mutual funds, and everything will work out just fine in the end.” That is the fruit of an entirely different tree. No, Jesus paints the picture of an orchard that is entirely different from that which is painted by most of so-called Christianity. Here there are unique absolutes and consequences of a divine relationship. In His orchard, we are to be like a branch that is connected to a tree, which is Him. When we are properly connected to Him, or abiding, we bear much fruit. Otherwise, we will be dead wood lying on the grass and the gardener will toss us into the fire when he cleans up the grounds. Branches separated from trees cannot (no matter how much they pray, hope, or try) bear fruit because it is impossible for them to receive nutrients. The nutrients come from the tree, the true vine. They are His words. Does He expect us to hear from Him? Yes. How else would we know specifically what to do to serve Him? Similarly, if you have money left over each month after you pay all your bills and provide for your family, how will you know where to put it that pleases God?
Have you ever sought investment advice from so-called Christian books, websites or similar resources only to find secular advice, philosophies and theories with a Christian label on them? I do not wish to disparage their aspects of practical knowledge, which is essential, but if you are attempting to please God with your investments, the foundation is missing. Reading many of them could lead you to think that God does not even exist.
Put yourself in God’s shoes—you know everything and your children need direction in life and investing. Would you give your precious children, that you love so painfully (think cross) much a textbook that some guy that you do not know wrote, or, would you tell them what to do? I know what I would do. I would tell them what to do if I knew for sure that their interests were my interests. And in that case, the information that I would give them would be so powerful, that once applied, everyone would know that they are my kids. Jesus described this type of relationship when He said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples.”
We need the nutrients of the true vine to glorify God and bear the fruit of eternal impact and reward. To have the nutrients of Jesus Christ requires abiding and abiding requires character—that which God builds in us as we lay down our own life and it’s selfish desires. God designed it so that everyone who turns away from their fallen, sinful nature and believes on Christ would receive His Spirit. Once He comes, He is committed to the end and never leaves, no matter what. The Holy Spirit living in us gives us access to know God and live through Him. If we set aside the life we desire for ourselves in this world, He reveals to us the perfect life that God created for us in Christ. Here the nutrients flow. Here there is real joy, peace, happiness and contentment. Here God speaks to us. Here we are friends with God. Here we can steward His investments.
Investing must begin from a relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus went on to tell His disciples:
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. (15:18-23; ESV)
We can see from what Jesus laid out here that the previously discussed design of God for our lives is in violent spiritual opposition with the desires and motivations of this world. Jesus was preparing His disciples for what they would face, once they received the Holy Spirit. His words should prepare us today. Investing with God is not about making money to pay for your ambitions. It is all about laying them down, yielding to His Spirit within, having His holy character worked into your soul (His name’s sake)—day after day—as you steward the resources of the King.
Furthermore, Jesus instructed His disciples:
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:7-11; ESV)
It is better for each individual believer to be empowered by Christ’s Spirit. God’s holy presence in the life of believers convicts unbelievers of their sin, their need to be saved from it, and the impending judgment on the father of sin and his followers. Those investing with God must understand that the undertaking involves much more than the stewardship of physical resources. It puts them in opposition with the fallen world around them, hemorrhaging from the corruption of sin. Following Christ with their investments causes them to be misunderstood and rejected. Yet, herein lies the glory. Jesus called Him the Comforter, because He empowers with wisdom and spiritual strength, beyond human comprehension. Those following the voice of God grow stronger as opposition increases.
The truth is that this world is always at war. To live it for Christ, whatever the cost, is success. To live as if there is no war, ignoring the call of Christ, is deception. I’d much rather have a tangible and powerful relationship with God’s Spirit—against all obstacles—to obtain the reward that God has for me from this temporal existence. What good are material things if they are not supplying a life lived to glorify God?
Joshua S. Hall, ChFC