Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Treasure that Lasts

As the global economy is shaking many people are taking a second look at investments. The stock market has proven to be really volatile with a few making a lot of money while the vast majority watched their portfolios shrink by half or even worse. What is sad that even during the best of times, while people were increasing their wealth on paper, the number of desperately poor in our world continued to grow.

This sounds like the farmer who increased in wealth and said to himself, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.”
Luke 12:18

The obvious lesson is that the only thing that lasts are what Jesus calls real treasure.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-21

Treasure that Lasts = People

It seems that many have been very busy investing in treasure that will not last. Why not invest in treasure that lasts an eternity?

“I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?

"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
Luke 16:9-13

Does Jesus endorse the idea of investing in people?

He said: "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.[a]'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.'
Luke 19:12-13

From this passage, the answer seems obvious to me. So then, if Jesus tells a story about investing in people, would it be wise for us to do the same?

What were the expectations of the master regarding a return on investment?

"The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.'
" 'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.'
Luke 16:16,17

A criticism that is sometimes thrown at people who invest in others is that you shouldn’t get a return on your investment. But let’s follow through with the rest of Jesus’ story.

"His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?'

"Then he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.'
Luke 16:22-24

There was clearly an expectation of return on investment. Not only that, but Jesus gave the one who had the greatest return, the one mina that had been buried.

Is it possible that the 2 who increased the minas to 5 and 10 actually did this by investing in others? Did they learn the lesson from their master that the best investments are helping others succeed?

Most people invest to build their own portfolio or to build a bigger barn. Why not invest where both you and the people you invest in, can increase with the purpose of laying up even more treasure in heaven?

So, how are your investments doing?

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