Previously, we took a look at the question, “Should Christians Invest In Stocks?“. What we found is that it is possible to be a good steward of God's money, and still invest. However, there are still a couple of things that we as believers must be careful of when we choose to invest.
The two most prominent dangers to investing for a Christian are, supporting or profiting from sin, and trusting in our wealth instead of God.
Let's take a look at the first danger:
The First Danger Of Investing: Profiting From Sin
This is probably the most popular reason given by Christians as to why they refuse to invest in stocks. We don't like the thought of our money going to support Playboy or some other entity that makes money off of sin!
It's pretty clear from scripture that there is to be a separation between Christians and the sinful practices of the world:
Do not love the world nor the things in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. ~ 1 John 2:15-17
If we as slaves to Christ must avoid the “lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life”, then it stands to reason that we should not benefit from companies and organizations that promote these things. It would seem hypocritical to speak out against these things while secretly building our retirement accounts on their success!
It can become so difficult and time-consuming to figure out if a company that you are currently invested in derives any of its profit from ungodly activities. So because of the danger of profiting from sin, many Christians will choose not to invest.
There is something else that we must consider when choosing to invest:
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? ~ 2 Corinthians 6:14
To present a more clear understanding of this command, here is a note on this verse from my study bible:
not be bound together. Lit. “unequally yoked,” an illustration taken from Old Testament prohibitions to Israel regarding the work-related joining together of two different kinds of livestock (Dt 22:10). By this analogy, Paul taught that it is not right to join together in common spiritual enterprise with those who are not of the same nature (unbelievers). It is impossible under such an arrangement for things to be done to God's glory. with unbelievers. Christians are not to be bound together with non-Christians in any spiritual enterprise or relationship that would be detrimental to the Christian's testimony within the body of Christ. ~ The MacArthur Study Bible (page 1741, note on 2 Corinthians 6:14)
When you purchase stocks, you are buying a share of the ownership of that particular company. Because of this, investing is commonly looked at as a partnership between the company and its shareholders. Since we are to avoid joining together in partnerships with ungodly people and entities, we have to now be even more careful about the companies in which we choose to invest.
Can We Avoid Profiting From Sin?
On the surface, this seems like an easy question to answer – of course we can avoid it, just investigate each company to see exactly how they make their money! However, this type of investigation can quickly go pretty far. You may want to consider looking at their business partners, suppliers, and even network on which they advertise.
My point is that it can be pretty much impossible to invest in a company that has no connection to sin and worldliness. If that is the case, how can we feel comfortable investing at all? I think we follow two main principles in order to invest in a way that honors God…
Cut Off Any Clearly Ungodly Partnerships
Any company that openly makes its profit by violating God's word can immediately be cut of your list of potential investments. Now, I'm not going to take the time to create a list of every action that violates God's holy and perfect standard, but take a look at 1 John 2:15-17 above, and you should be able to create a list of your own!
If you know that a company involves itself in sinful practices, then you should cut off your relationship with them if possible.
Do Not Violate Your Conscience Or That Of Another Believer
Hear what the Apostle Paul says about this:
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this–not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. ~ Romans 14:13-23
In many of the pagan temples, worshipers sacrificed meat to their idols. This was to both cleanse the meat from demonic contamination (because they believed that evil spirits would indwell food in order to enter into a human's body when they ate), and to offer up a sacrifice to their false god. Any meat that wasn't burned on the altar was then sold in the meat markets at a cheap discount.
Many new Christians had been saved out of that pagan lifestyle and thus were very sensitive to these practices, and were sometimes reminded of their past. However, more mature believers knew that there was nothing inherently wrong with the meat and that it was fine for a Christian to buy it and save a lot of money! 1 Corinthians 8:7-13 has this to say about this situation:
However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols?
For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
As we see in this example, even if we understand that the word of God doesn't explicitly speak against a particular practice, if it offends another believer, then we are not to do it. Helping to protect the conscience of our brother or sister is more important than whatever gain we would have received by a particular investment (0r meal).
Even if you believe that it is acceptable to invest in a particular stock or fund, if your doing so causes another believer to stumble or even go against his conscience, then you have sinned against both him and Christ!
A Few Things To Consider
- Unless you purchase your shares of stock in an I.P.O. (Initial Public Offering), your money does not go to the company
- If you are not comfortable investing in a company that owns a company that owns a company that owns a company that sells vending machines to casinos, then please do not go against your conscience
- If you scrutinize your investments this heavily, but do not give the same consideration to where you make your day-to-day purchases, some may regard you as a hypocrite and your testimony will still be ruined
- Have you ever invested in a stock against your conscience for any reason (fear of missing out on a huge profit, the pressure of an adviser or other Christian, etc)?
- How careful are you when it comes to choosing your investments?
- Do you think it's possible to avoid profiting from sin?