Counterintuitive Investing (Matthew 6:1-4, 19-24)

Posted on November 11, 2016 by Randy Buchman

Does anyone really know what to do these days with investments? There is trouble in any direction you look. Just a decade or two ago it was rather easy to manage resources. Interest rates on certificates of deposit were decent and you could even make some money on mere savings interest, now paying only a fraction of a percent. The stock market had not yet crashed and real estate was a guaranteed winner. What can you do now that rather surely promises a yield and reward?

Well, we can help you out. Here today is a plan with payouts that are, literally, out of this world! The challenge is that doing this is very counterintuitive.

When we make investments in an account, we expect to get a monthly statement to follow its progress. When investing in stocks and bonds, the brokerage agency sends a quarterly report of the performance of your positions. As well now in this modern era, you can check online 24/7 to see the status of your funds.

All of this is in the world of the visible – the intuitive. Your investments are fully in sight. That seems eminently wise. We might even call it astute management. And we are not going to slam prudent investment and management of God-given and God-blessed assets that are invested toward the end of meeting our basic needs. But there is a stewardship principle of using the abundance of resources in a way that is generous toward God and his kingdom work, along with blessing others who have insufficient assets for sustaining life.

Jesus spoke to this in Matthew 6, saying …

6:1 – “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

So there is a way to give that represents a genuine heart and motive. Jesus often encountered the religious element in Judaism who lived their “righteousness” in a very public way. It was all about making themselves feel good by showing others that they were clearly and obviously better and more advanced. They even did this with the way they gave their money.

God is a very good accountant. Credit is not necessary on earth, and giving merely to receive it now rather invalidates the reward. God can be counted upon to honor generosity in a place and time where it really matters most.

Christ picked up a similar theme just a few verses later …

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

So much of the Christian life is counterintuitive – just the opposite of the way it seems things should be. Like prayer – trusting an unseen hand, power and authority to help us rather than merely working harder to solve problem ourselves … that seems wrong. And likewise with material assets. Conventional wisdom is to accumulate and hang onto things for security, rather than to risk security by generously giving away what we might someday need for ourselves.

But the real world and true life is the eternal kingdom. What is given toward and invested in this endeavor can never be lost. Unlike the material world it will never fade and rust away or be stolen by someone else. Investments of this sort can never be lost, and these commitments demonstrate the nature of our hearts and what master has authority over our lives. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t horde riches on earth to the neglect of God’s Kingdom and the needs around us, while expecting also to see those riches be eternally a reward for the life beyond.

Accumulated material assets are a burden. One has to spend a great deal of time, energy and care to ensure that they are maintained and secure from theft. The safest thing to do is use them wisely and well to meet our genuine needs and beyond that to share them in a way that also secures them for eternal reward and productive investment.

Being a pastor and biblical instructor is sort of like being a certified financial planner or having a wealth management consulting business. Maybe a good name for this would be “Counterintuitive Wealth Management Consultants.”  Just helping you out.