Friday, March 19, 2010

What does God think about a Christian Stock Investor?

To the question of whether a Christian can invest in the stock market, my quick answer would be yes.  Read on for the difference between saving and hoarding.

This is the first article in the series to investigate what I believe God thinks about certain professions.  Firstly, what might be challenging about investing in the stock market?  What is the difference between gambling in the casino, and speculating in the stock market?  Nothing.  But what is the difference between speculating and investing?  There is a huge difference.  Companies need capital operate and listing on the stock market is one way to raise funds.  We won't go into the Christian businessman in this article, and we won't go into gambling either.  But investing in stocks is a way to invest in a company and its operations.  To decide whether a company is worth investing in must be decided upon on a case by case basis.  Some people will not invest in casinos, weapons manufacturers, non-fair trade, multinationals which hire child laborers, alcohol manufacturers.  I also think many of those are bad, but its sometimes hard to draw the line, what about companies which support, supply or trade with those businesses?  What about businesses which are supported by those businesses?

What then is the difference between hoarding money and saving?  The bible warns against the hoarding of money, since money is a material wealth, which we cannot take with us when we die.  We are to save money and be good stewards of money.  When we save money, it must be for some purpose; saving for our retirement, to give to the Church, to give to overseas aid, to give to the poor, to save for our children's education.  All these things are good things to do, encouraged by the bible.  The hoarding of money, is when we accumulate wealth for the sake of it.  We keep it because we love looking at our bank balance getting bigger.  Remember money is not evil, it is the love of money which is evil.

Are there any examples of investors in the bible?  Since the stock exchange did not exist in biblical times, it is quite difficult to find an equivalent.  But the bible does have a lot to say about money.  We should be good stewards of our money, meaning we must look after every cent, and not let any of it go to waste.  All our money comes from God, in fact all money and wealth belongs to God, and is given to us for safekeeping.  We are to look after the Lord's wealth.  Part of this means being generous and giving to the poor.
Matt 19:21  Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 
Jesus told the rich young man to sell all that he had and give to the poor.  The wealth that we are given is not ours in the first place, we are to let Jesus dictate what we are to do with it, most of the time that involves helping others less fortunate than us.  Proverbs 3:9-10 tells us we are to honor God with our wealth.

Prov 3:9  Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: 
Prov 3:10  So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. 
Proverbs 28 tells us not to try and "get rich quick".

Prov 28:20  A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent. 
And much of the bible warns against putting our trust in worldly possessions such as money.
1Tim 6:17  Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy
And finally, the parable of the talents.  Matt 25:14-30, Jesus tells us that we should invest our money in a way that reaps the greatest return, to the best of our abilities.  This means putting effort into learning about interest rates and term deposits.  We must learn about the stock market, and foreign exchange for the best place to invest our money.  Perhaps even looking at property investment and real estate.  If God has given you an intelligent mind, which by the time you read this, you likely have, I think its not good enough to settle with storing your money in the bank and being a 'good saver' simply by not spending.  We must looking into options with greater return.  We are looking after the LORD's wealth, he has given us Talents, and we are show Him what we have done given the mind and skills He has given us.

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