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What Does God Teach About Investing?

By Keith Rawlinson
Volunteer Budget Counselor


Does God want His people to invest?  Is investing in the Bible?  How should God's people invest?  To answer these questions, we only need four things: a particular story from the Bible, and three very relevant verses from the Bible.  The story is the story of the talents, found in the book of Mathew, chapter 25 verses 14 through 30 (Mat. 25:14-30).  The verses are Proverbs 28:20, Proverbs 16:8 and Proverbs 13:11.

Does God want His people to invest?

To answer this question, let's look at the parable of the talents in the book of Mathew.  I don't want to take the time to reiterate the entire story here, so I strongly encourage you to read it for yourself.  Before I get into the story, you need to understand what is meant by a talent.  In biblical times, a talent was a very large measure of money.  So when the story talks about people being entrusted with a talent, it means that they were being entrusted with a very large amount of wealth.  Understand that this story is talking about spiritual things as well.  This story is talking about investing the life God gave us in eternity and in living for Him; but, is also talking about money.

In the story, the master goes away for a while, and gives varying amounts of money to three of his most trusted servants to invest while the master is away.  One servant received five talent, another received three talents and the last received one talent.  The story tells us that the amounts of money were decided based upon the ability of each of the servants to handle the money properly.  As the story progresses, the servant with five talents of money and the servant with three, both invest their portion and generate a return for the master.  The servant who was given only one talent hid it so that it would not be lost or stolen.  He was very afraid of what the master's reaction would be if any of the money were lost.

After the master returned, the first two servants each returned to the master what he had originally given them along with whatever return they generated with it while the master was away.  The last servant, however, dug up the one talent he had hidden and returned it to the master bragging that he did not lose any of it.  The master was pleased with the servants who had invested, but became very angry with the servant who had done nothing but hidden the one talent with which he was entrusted.  The master told the servant that, at the very least, he should have put it in the bank so it would earn some interest.

This story tells us, without question, that God not only wants His people to invest, He wants them to invest wisely.  You cannot argue this point.  The story clearly states that the servant with only one talent was reprimanded and ultimately punished for not investing the master's money.  You could argue that this story is strictly referring to spiritual things; but, if investing were not part of God's plan for our money, would He have used it as an illustration in this parable?  

How does God want us to invest?

In the Bible, there are several verses dealing with investing money; but, I will look at only two here.  You can find the others in my list of favorite financial Bible verses.  Proverbs 28:20 says:

A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.

So first, we are told to be faithful.  This means not only living the way God wants us to live, but also doing things the way God teaches us to do them--which includes handling our money God's way.

Second, we are told not make haste to be rich.  This simply means that we are not to take excessive risk in order to get rich quickly, and that we not give in to greed.

The verse says that if we are in too great a hurry to become rich, we will not go unpunished.  Notice that the verse does not say that God will punish us; it just says that there will be punishment.  Well, if God is not going to punish us directly for trying to get rich quick, then where does the punishment come from?  Simple, the punishment will be the natural result of our trying to get rich quick.  This would include, among other things, losing money, losing everything, destroying our futures, destroying our families, and ending up deeply in debt.

It is very important to note that this verse does not say that being rich is wrong or will bring punishment, it says that trying to get rich quickly will bring punishment.  So, if we invest God's way, and it results in our becoming rich, that is not only all right, it is a blessing from God.

The second verse I want to look at is Proverbs 13:11 which says:

Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

This verse tells us two more things about how God wants us to invest.  We are to do it honestly, and little by little.  Gathering money little by little goes back to what we discussed in the previous verse.  God does not want us to be in too big a hurry to gain wealth through investing.  Being honest is a whole other thing.

Throughout the Bible, there are verses and stories relating to honesty and integrity.  I can't remember exactly who did the study, but there was a formal study done to determine whether or not there were qualities common to self-made millionaires.  The study came to the conclusion that, overwhelmingly, self-made millionaires tended to have integrity.  We're not talking about Christian millionaires here, we are talking about millionaires in general.  So, whether they realized it or not, most self-made millionaires handled their money and businesses the way god instructs--that is, with integrity and honesty.

So, there you have it.  The way God wants us to invest is:


What does God want us to invest our money in?

The very first investment God wants us to make is in our eternity.  He wants us first to invest in a personal relationship with Himself and with His Son Jesus Christ.  In other words, the first investment God directs us to make is having salvation through the death of Jesus Christ on a cross.  This is made very clear in this next Bible verse, Proverbs 16:8

"Better is a little with righteousness than vast revenues without justice."

In other words, have an eternal, saving, personal relationship with Jesus Christ first, then worry about investing your worldly wealth.

God wants us to invest in things that are not contrary to what the Bible teaches is the way we should live and serve Him.  In other words, when you are deciding on an investment, ask yourself if it is something God Himself would approve of.  Be very careful, though, not to worry too much about trying to be socially conscious.  There are people who won't invest in anything even remotely related to something they deem to be socially irresponsible.  To some extent, I agree with that.  If a business or company has the main purpose of making money through illegal, or questionable activities, or by exploiting people and causing harm, then I certainly advise staying away from them.  But, there are people who won't invest in a business because that business has investments that involve some company that is not socially responsible.  Do you see how quickly something like that can get out of hand?  If, for instance, a company holds a mutual fund that contains a company or two who may be socially irresponsible, then you would have to reject investing in the company who is holding the mutual fund.  This could be a company who sells hamburgers, but happens to have money invested in a mutual fund.  If you invested in this manner, it would be very difficult to find any good investments that you could allow yourself to invest in.  In the case of the hamburger place I just mentioned; their main purpose is to sell hamburgers.  An investment in such a company would probably be fine.  It isn't really your responsibility to decide how others handle their money, it is your responsibility to decide how you will handle God's money.  In other words, pray about it and if you feel good about a company's primary purpose and way of doing business, then it is most likely all right to do the investment.  If, after praying about it, you don't feel right about what a particular company is doing, then don't invest in that company.

My philosophies and techniques for investing are, to the best of my ability, in line with what God teaches about investing.  You can read about how I recommend investing, and what to invest in, in my article Getting started in investing at Eclecticsite.com.  For additional information about saving, investing, getting out of debt and building up wealth, be sure to check out all of the additional articles available on my Eclecticsite.com Financial Page.


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This article copyright 2009 by Keith C. Rawlinson (Eclecticsite.com).  All rights reserved.
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