Spending or investing? Sometimes we have no choice; we must spend without the opportunity for investment. What’s the difference? When you spend, you have no hope of what you spent returning; instead you receive something in place of what you spent. When you invest, you do have hope of what you invested returning along with an additional profit or benefit.
Investment can be financial; can also be other resources – time, labor – that is invested. The goal for the wise, Christian: invest rather than spend whenever possible. Paul in letter to Ephesus and Colosse connects wise living with use of time, does so using monetary term:
Eph. 4:15-16 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Col. 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.
“the most natural interpretation of the clause is, “availing yourselves of the occasion,” i. e. improving every opportunity for good. Christians should …seize upon every opportunity to do good; and also …make the most of time.” Hodge
Living this way – evidence of having wisdom, possessing divine truth (truth of God); outward evidence of inward way of thinking and reasoning – making choices
Our time on earth – limited; need to make the most of it. NOT for the same reasons as world-think.
World says: only live once, when it’s over, it’s over. Monuments you build in this life define your measure – worth, greatness, legacy. Basically “he who dies with the most toys wins” attitude. All (or almost all) based on measurable achievements – net worth, medals, honors, circle of influence, charitable donations.
God says: life doesn’t end at death, neither does reward or consequences. Things done in this life have impact on eternity – existence after the consummation. What we do in the NOW should be an investment in the THEN. Only God can actually measure our achievements, only he knows all the details; we can’t ’cause we don’t and so we shouldn’t try to measure. We just must be faithful in our obedience to his command about treasure:
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Insofar as possible, resources we have now should be invested – spending time, strength, treasure, abilities/skills NOW so that there is a payback with profit THEN. Choices we make in use of what God has given us responsibility for should maximize ROI. Ask the question: how can I use this time/talent/treasure so that it has an impact on eternity?
What things should characterize our investments?
A. prudence v.15
Many opportunities for investment; cover a spectrum, can be confusing what is best. 2 questions: is it a wise use of resources? is it the right time to invest those resources? Can be a good instrument, just poor timing. Can also be poor investment. Requires use of prudence:
caution in deliberating and consulting on the most suitable means to accomplish valuable purposes, and the exercise of sagacity [faculty of readily discerning and distinguishing ideas, and of separating truth from falsehood] in discerning and selecting them. …actions to be done, and due means, order, season and method of doing or not doing.Webster
Prudent investment of money may mean not ever seeing it again. Question is, how will it be used? To build the kingdom? Examples: camper scholarship, support young person on short term missions trip, purchase books for pastor’s library in 3rd-world country, Bibles for grandchildren.
of talent: Campers on Mission – small churches (Clint & Carol, plywood over windows, no people who could fix), campgrounds, ministries – using talent to enable others to be more effective/efficient in ministry. Using skills to teach trade to inner-city kids with no future, accompanied with verbal and non-verbal spiritual communication.
of time: investing in personal holiness, then evangelization or edification of others. Evangelizing: showing by deed and word their need of salvation from sin, how your salvation has changed your life. Edification: building up of Christian character in another person. Translation – spending time with them in such a way that their holiness is increased. Given a choice of TV or playing with cat/dog or time with an individual in need, which choice? Obviously Happy and Molly are important, but…. given a choice…. introduce them to the pet <smile>.
Need great wisdom and prudence to know which opportunity, which means, what sort of investment will have an eternal payback.
B. grace v.16
NIV – “a kindhearted woman”
As God is gracious and kindhearted toward us, we must be gracious and compassionate in our investing.
“A woman whose spirit is under the influence of a gracious God will be a gracious daughter, a gracious wife, a gracious mother, a gracious friend and neighbour — that is, all her doings and sayings will be irradiated and warmed by that holiness and love which is the essence of the character of God Himself.”Harris
So how do we show that grace and kindness in our investing? In our dealings w/people: show acceptance and treat favorably.
accept people where they are with an eye to helping them move closer to God (does not imply acceptance of inappropriate action or thought)
provide help without being condescending; remember we have because God gave
kindness must be genuine – kindness shown must come from kind heart
investments made must actually be kind ones: giving a wino money is not kind; investing in Rockefeller Foundation so they can promote sale of RU-486 is not kind
both kind of investment and object of investment must be a means of doing good, building the Kingdom whenever possible but promoting Kingdom principles always
C. mercy v.17
hesed– kindness, love, loyalty, mercy, covenant faithfulness when used of God (Ex. 34:5-7) and part of his character, communicable attribute
Sometimes best investment is not to give what is deserved; wisdom (and leading of Holy Spirit) can discern when hesed (as in mercy or loyalty) is warranted and will be rewarded. Love and kindness should always accompany investment of time and talent; sometimes it’s the intangible stuff that makes the difference.
Illustration – phone call, life story — military experience, mortgage difficulty, professional interests, etc., etc.; door yard visit — similar life history, extended family, personal experiences from past several decades; out for a walk — casual “hi, the flowers look nice”, another life history, previous career, philosophy of raising children, etc., etc.
Kind loving listening at times is the most effective investment in the Kingdom, the way God would have us improve an unexpected opportunity for good. Can also be in the form of lunch at Java Dog for someone in need, fresh-baked cookies for a lonely neighbor,
D. generosity v.24-26
Wisdom aids in discernment between generous and gullible. Should be generous with investment but not falling for a good story. Again, opposite of world-think. Common “business model” – minimize investment, maximize return. God-think – invest generously, trust God for the return. Note: he can be trusted for a good return.
Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you, a good measure—pressed down, shaken, overflowing—they will pour out into your lap. For with the measure by which you measure out, it will be measured out to you in return.” LEB
Investment must be sufficient to make it a good investment: enough so that recipient can actually accomplish something good with it. Also must consider: if we are truly investing in eternity, can we ever invest enough? Will the return on our investment ever be too little?
Mal. 3:10 “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.
E. influence v.30
Greatest treasure a Christian has that he can use for the good of others – influence. The ability to persuade someone else to a particular way of thinking. World-think is perverse, upside-down; Christian’s worldview should be right-side up. World-think is way to death and destruction; Christian view is way to life.
A righteous person exercises a life-giving influence. Furthermore a wise person wins others to wisdom. That is, he or she captures others with ideas or influence (cf. 2 Sam. 15:6). While it is true that evangelistic soul-winning is wise work, soul-winning is not all that this verse is talking about. The idea here is that wise people influence others to follow the way of wisdom, which includes turning to God for salvation. Constable’s Notes
Influence built largely on relationships, require greatest investment of time but can give greatest payback especially if opportunity is with youth. More time spent, more places in conversation to change direction, always working to point individual toward absolute truth and ultimately God.
Probably thinking – boy, all that wasted time/energy/money/etc/etc. Man, what I could have done, what I should have done….. Don’t wallow, beat yourself up; take a line from Bob Newhart: “Just STOP IT.” And begin now doing it more as you believe God expects you to. If it is our desire that “to God be the glory”, to “say thanks for the things [He] has done for [us]”, a good way to do so is to invest the resources God has entrusted to us, investing them now to receive the reward then.