What King David Knew
David is nearing the end of his reign as king. He is an old man, but he still has a mission: he wants to build a temple. But God does not allow it. Instead, David crowns his son, Solomon, king and gives him the plans and materials for the new temple. Although God does not allow David the opportunity to build the temple, He allows him the privilege of financing the building.
King David contributed about one hundred tons of gold from his personal resources along with tons of silver and other precious metals. His actions encouraged other leaders to contribute their own funds to build the temple—almost two hundred tons of gold and nearly four hundred tons of silver. David offers a moving prayer of dedication that reveals the reason for his generosity. He begins, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord” (1 Chronicles 29:11, NKJV). We use a paraphrase of David’s words to conclude the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:13: “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
If God owns it all, why do we call it “mine”?
How many times have you heard people say, or perhaps have said yourself, that “God owns it all”? This is a common statement made by Christians to affirm that the One who creates everything, by right, also owns everything. Although we may acknowledge this in our words, few of us behave in a manner that accurately reflects God’s ownership. We quickly use the word “my” to describe our possessions: my car, my house, my golf clubs, my clothes, my money, my portfolio, etc. Human nature drives us to “possess” as much as we can accumulate and to hold it with all of our might.
In the realm of investing, I have observed this in the way that investors view their portfolio. Each time their investment account grows, they make a mental note of the new highest value and consider it “theirs.” I call this the “high water mark” and investors frequently consider that they have lost money when their account drops below this mark.
Here is an example: Let’s say an investor deposits $10,000 into a mutual fund. Over time, the stocks in the mutual fund increase in value so that the account’s value increases to $15,000. When a downturn occurs, and the stocks decline in value to $12,500, the investor often says they have lost $2,500 when in fact they have actually gained $2,500 from their original investment. This is a simple example of how we mentally want to own every increase in life. But King David’s prayer reminds us that God owns it all.
Matching our objectives with God’s
If God is the True Owner of everything in our lives, then why don’t our investments seek to achieve His objectives? Our typical investment goals can be summarized by three primary objectives that almost all investors have:
- Maximize financial return
- Minimize risk of loss
- Minimize taxes
Usually these objectives are tied to specific personal goals such as achieving financial independence for retirement, educating our children, or some other personal ambition. When asked what God’s primary objectives are in the world, most Christians respond:
- The Great Commission and making disciples to the ends of the earth
- The Great Commandment
- Restoring all that was broken in the Fall of mankind.
God is a champion for the weak, vulnerable, exploited, and impoverished. As stewards who are actually managing God’s resources, do your investments align with God’s goals? What percentage of your portfolio invests in companies that have clear and defined spiritual impact plans to make disciples, alleviate poverty, or protect vulnerable members of society? Would your investments be better categorized as ones that seek maximized financial returns or as ones that seek to bring the light of the Gospel to unreached people groups?
Most Christian investors have been taught to believe that good stewardship is about competent money management for their own personal benefit. But, in fact, money and investments are temporal tools that in the hand of God’s steward should be used to achieve His eternal purposes. We have been fooled into thinking that they are ours, to be used for our enjoyment when in reality they are God’s, as King David so clearly declares when he says, ”Lord our God, all this abundance…comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you” (2 Chron 29:16, emphasis mine).
What it can look like when “it’s all God’s”
My wife and I have been honored to invest in many Christian-owned businesses that are located in closed countries, unreached by the gospel, in cultures that are predominantly Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist. The reason we choose to invest in such a way is based on our recognition that our investments belong to the Lord and therefore must be deployed in alignment with achieving His eternal purposes. Yes, these carry higher financial risk than traditional publicly traded investments, but we invest in obedience as stewards of God’s resources. We’ve been convicted by the words of John Wesley, who asks:
“Do not you know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud your Lord, by applying it to any other purpose?“ (excerpted from On the Danger of Increasing Riches)
IF everything is the Lord’s, THEN
It is probably time to take a hard look at your IRA, 401k, nest egg, or mutual fund portfolio to review which portion is invested as God’s steward to achieve His eternal purposes compared to the portion invested to maximize returns for your own personal goals.
For more tips on how to review your portfolio, purchase your own copy of The Steward Investor.