Bible Finance

Manage Your Money God's Way

Investing—Follow God’s Directives Not Human Tendencies

Human tendency is to respond to what is happening in the financial markets or news from the media. Good news frequently provides confidence or triggers greed, which tempts us to buy; bad news makes us feel uncomfortable or fearful, which results in a desire to sell. Generally, good news causes the market to go up, and bad news causes the market to go down. Therefore, if you follow the normal human tendency, which is to rely on your emotions in making investment decisions, it means that you will buy high and sell low. This, of course, is the opposite to what you want to do, and it is not consistent with God’s investment principles.

 

First, our trust should be in God, not in any particular investment or money manager.

Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. (Proverbs 3:25–26, emphasis added)

In regard to greed, Jesus warns us, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). If you struggle with greed, I suggest that you pray and ask God to change your heart (Proverbs 21:1). Also be sure to give generously to God’s work, because giving generally helps a believer deal with greed.

 

In response to bad news, God’s directive for the righteous man is this: “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD” (Psalm 112:7).

 

Therefore, when you hear bad news from the media, or if the markets have decreased significantly in value, I recommend that before you make any investment decisions, you spend quality time with the Lord in prayer, seeking his direction and his wisdom. Only God knows the future, and only God is in control.

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.” (Isaiah 46:9–11, emphasis added)

Another human tendency is to make investment decisions on impulse, or in response to “hot tips” or “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” On the other hand, the directive in scripture is toward planning, diligence, and patience. Proverbs 21:5 states, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Hasty investment decisions usually lead to losses.

 

Once a year, I spend several hours in prayer, seeking God’s wisdom (James 1:5) and direction (Psalm 32:8) for the investments he has entrusted to me. I develop a biblically based investment strategy, including percentage asset allocations to each category, i.e., bonds, Canadian equities, global equities, etc. (See my two previous articles on diversification.) On a quarterly basis, I prayerfully review the portfolio, and as long as God gives me his peace, I will generally sell assets that have increased in value and purchase assets in categories that have decreased in value. This forces me to “sell high and buy low” and to avoid responding to market conditions, “hot tips,” and media news. Between these “reviews,” I generally ignore the media and the markets.

 

In summary, follow God’s directives (prayer, planning, and patience), not human tendencies such as fear and greed. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. “ (Proverbs 16:3)

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November 13, 2008 Posted by | Investing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Investing—Ensure That Your Motives Are Godly and Not Worldly

It is possible for a Christian to be involved in investing with godly motives or worldly motives. Your motives for investing are important to God. “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:2)

 

Godly motives for investing would include the following:

 

1. Investing in Order to Meet Future Needs—1 Timothy 5:8 states, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Examples of needs that usually require saving and investing would include children’s education, retirement, automobile replacement, and purchase of a home.

 

2. Giving to God’s Work—If God has blessed you with a surplus and if you have given to God’s work everything that the Lord has laid upon your heart (Proverbs 3:9, 10), then it is possible that God may direct you to invest the surplus with the long-term objective of giving even more.

 

3. Practising Good Stewardship—If you have given to God’s work as God directed, then as a good steward, you should invest your surplus as directed in the parable of the talents (Mathew 25:14–30). However, be sensitive to God’s leading; do not invest only to accumulate more. Jesus said, “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” (Matthew 6:19, 20).

 

4. Following God’s Specific Will for Your Life—Sometimes God’s specific will for a believer may be to invest a significant amount in the business that God has called him or her to. Because God discourages debt (Proverbs 22:7), it may be necessary for some people to accumulate significant retained earnings in their company in order to provide the necessary working capital.

 

Worldly or ungodly motives for investing would include the following:

 

1. Pride—Some people invest with the objective of accumulating significant wealth because it makes them feel more important than others. This attitude is clearly contrary to God’s Word. 1 Peter 5:5 states, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

 

2. Selfishness—Philippians 2:3, 4 states, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Investing with selfish motives is not God’s will.

 

3. Greed—God warns about greed. Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

 

4. Trust in Wealth Rather Than in God—A good example of this is the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16–21). This man’s problem was not that he had significant wealth but rather that he hoarded his wealth and he trusted in it rather than in God. God called him a fool.

 

I encourage you to ask God to reveal your motives for investing, and then take action to ensure that your motives are godly: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24).


November 3, 2008 Posted by | Investing | , , , , , | Leave a comment