The investment strategies of our commercial banking industry and our capitalist economy are all about laying up for ourselves treasure on earth. Every investment planner with a shingle out there will help you lay up your treasure on earth wisely, to diversify your portfolio so as to achieve the right balance of risk and return for your stage of life with a view to preserving capital while gaining sufficient dividends and income to keep you in the lifestyle to which you’ve become accustomed. Of course we need enough to raise our families and get our children launched; of course we need enough to remain self-sufficient to the extent possible. But let’s be honest. We—especially here in America—have a problem defining “enough.” There are strong forces at work all around us trying to make excess seem insufficient and leave us wanting even more.
What about when Jesus speaks about investment strategies? Do we believe that we’re about to hear a profoundly profitable tip from him?
Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father is very happy to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to those in need; provide money bags for yourself that won’t wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in the heavens where a thief doesn’t encroach and a moth-worm doesn’t devour. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be. (Luke 12:32–34)
Jesus isn’t trying to make us make ourselves poorer. He’s trying to teach us how to make ourselves richer, and to make ourselves richer forever. There is wealth that we can take with us. So Jesus calls us into his brokerage office to ask: Do you need to diversify your investment portfolio? Are you positioned too strongly in short-term investments—those that pay their dividends only on this side of death? Have you taken adequate thought for your long-term, eternal needs and invested accordingly? Is some reallocation of assets in order?
Supporting the ministries of a local church is one instrument in a solid investment strategy for eternity. The local church is a kind of “balanced assets” mutual fund for the kingdom, where giving supports your own and your neighbors’ growth in discipleship and provides a base of operations for local and global missions and relief efforts. Specialized ministries like organizations mobilizing relief for persecuted Christians or making the Scriptures available in local languages worldwide make for good kingdom “growth funds.” That single-parent family that could stand to be informally adopted could make for a solid individual kingdom stock.
The people whose lives we have rescued from or supported in the midst of distress, whose hearts have been opened to God and God’s salvation by our outreach, whose needs we have shouldered as our own so as to help them carry their burdens—we will find these people again on the other side of death, and the love that we expressed for them here, the relief that we brought them here, the spiritual nurture and growth that we facilitated for them here will make of them our treasure in heaven forever.
When you get to heaven do you want to be surrounded by all the good you haven’t done? For eternity? Or will you want to be surrounded by all the good to which you have contributed—in which you have invested—as fully as possible? Maybe, when Jesus, our investment planner, speaks, maybe we should listen.
This post is adapted from In Season and Out: Sermons for the Christian Year by David A. deSilva (Lexham Press, 2019).