When considering investing in stocks as a Christian, we have more to think about than just potential return. We also have to be sure that we are being good stewards of God's money. First we have to be sure that we are not supporting sin, or violating our conscience in the process. Secondly, we have to guard against putting our trust in our wealth.
When writing about the question, “Should Christians invest in stocks?“, I touched on this concern. However, since it can become so easy to let this happen, I decided to write a full post about it.
We Are Commanded To Trust God For Everything
We are told over and over in scripture that God will provide for us as along as we focus on His kingdom and are living in obedience to His word. Here are just a few passages which speak to this fact:
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!
Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ~ Matthew 6:25-33
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:19
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? ~ Romans 8:32
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:6-7
We can go on and on, but the point is that God not only commands us to look to Him for all of our provision, but he also assures us that we will never lack the basic needs of life as long as we live in faith and obedience! Even when we save and invest and look to create wealth for the years when we are unable to work, we are still to ultimately depend on God for our provision!
The Dangers Of Trusting In Our Wealth
One of the main problems with obtaining wealth is that we can easily become comfortable with and dependent on our riches, rather than God. Because this is such a common occurrence, even with those who are committed to Christ, the bible is full of warnings to this end. Here are a few:
For he sees that even wise men die; the stupid and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others. Their inner thought is that their houses are forever and their dwelling places to all generations; they have called their lands after their own names. But man in his pomp will not endure; he is like the beasts that perish. ~ Psalms 49:10-12
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. ~ Proverbs 11:4
He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf. ~ Proverbs 11:28
When we are forced (through poverty, illness, or something else out of our immediate control) to depend on God for every step, it is much easier to keep our eyes upon Him. However, it can be difficult to look past our wealth, or even the prospect of wealth, to see God! Here is the record of a man who let his wealth keep him from Jesus and eternal life:
And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. ~ Matthew 19:16-22
This young ruler's faith and trust became so grounded in his wealth, that he actually refused eternal life because it would mean giving up his riches. The same thing can happen to our heart over time if we fix our eyes upon our growing 401k balances! There is nothing wrong with trying to grow our wealth in a God-honoring way. However, the problem comes in when we allow the temporal security of money to replace the practice of standing on the promises of God!
How To Avoid Trusting In Wealth
The first step to this is to be content no matter what state we happen to be in:
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. ~ 1 Timothy 6:6-10
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:11-13
Since we know that it is ultimately God that provides for us and sustains us, we must be content no matter how much or little we actually have. As we saw earlier, Jesus promised that His true followers (those who are seeking the kingdom first) will not have to worry about food or covering! Now we are told above that if we have these things, we should be content!
We must remember that every possession in this life is temporal, and we cannot take it with us when we die. Therefore, we are warned in Matthew 6:19, not to “store up for [our]selves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal“.
A Final Instruction To Those Who Are Rich
In the final chapter of the letter to Timothy, we find this great passage directed toward those who are rich:
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. ~ 1 Timothy 6:17-19
So, even as we begin to invest and build up our net worth, we must never make the mistake of fixing our “hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”
- Do you look over your bank and investment statements more than the bible?
- Have you ever come to a point where you felt like the rich young ruler who turned down eternal life for his riches?
- How do you stay content – whether you have much or little?