Christians, money and investing for the future

I had a short talk with my uncle last night. He just went into financial advising/planning. And so my dad asked me to talk to him regarding doing some investments with him. I have a bit of money from the insurance or whatever from my mother’s death 17 years ago. My dad’s been keeping it for me and last year when I was in Australia I asked him to put it into some investments. It was fortunate that he hadn’t invested it yet due to what happened recently in the economy. So today he asked me to talk to my uncle for a while regarding investing it now.

I’m not young and most people my age would already be well into investing and planning for their future life. Or at least they would have found out about all this stuff. For me, I don’t really care. I know a bit, but I’m not exactly keen to know more and get into all this financial thing. I asked my dad to invest the money last year because I didn’t know what to do with it. I hadn’t decided yet and so I thought I’ll get the money back from him and just invest it.

Inside me, I really hate all this focus on financial planning and making sure that one has enough money for their future and all. If non-Christians do that, then that’s understandable. It’s good to plan financially for your future. After all, for most non-Christians, the focus is on their life here and now. But when I see Christians into financially planning the same way that non-Christians are into it, I have to totally disagree.

One wise pastor I respect once asked what are the qualities that good leaders ought to have. Then he asked whether the qualities that good Christian leaders ought to have would be any different? His point was that the qualities of a good Christian leader ought to be different from what society expects of a leader in general. The same can be said of a good Christian businessman. Being a Christian ought to make a difference. Our faith ought to make a difference in the way we live and how we do things.

In the same way, I think how Christians use their money ought to be different from how non-Christians use their money. How Christians think about their future and the priorities they place on money ought to be different. Christians ought to have an eternal perspective. And to me that means not building your kingdom here on earth. Society in most countries (and especially in Singapore) expect us to think about our future and life in terms of mainly our career, family, children’s education, etc. Money is of utmost importance in the non-Christian’s life. It’s all about making sure that we have enough of it so that we can survive and even thrive. And sad to say, this has been the view of almost every Christian I’ve met.

And so my uncle started to explain to me why it’s important to save and be prepared for the future. I told him that I don’t believe it’s important to save and invest because God will provide for me and the money can be better used now to help other people who need it more than me. Yes, I told my father to invest my money because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. Inside me, I don’t believe in saving and investing money for the future – at least not in the way the whole world does it. But it’s also hard for me to live out this belief of mine because it’s so radical.

Why don’t I believe in saving and investing for the future the way the world does? I can think of at least two reasons now:

1) Life is not about building my kingdom. I think we can define “kingdom” in today’s terms as “me and my (future) family”. I’m a very simple person in that I want to live out what the Bible says. I don’t want to do it half-heartedly, because if I’m not hoping to do it fully, I may as well not do it at all. The Bible very clearly says that we’ve been forgiven in Christ so that we can love God and others. The love of Christ compels me to live for Him. To think about Him and His kingdom, not mine. There isn’t any greater meaning in this world than to live for the God who so loved me that He sent His Son to die for me. And so if I had money to spare, should I save it up for myself and my family in future or should I give it away to help people who need it so much more than I do – trusting that as I do the right thing, God will provide for me? I think the answer is obvious. It’s just whether I want to do the right thing or not.

2) I think often of the “Do not worry” passage (Matthew 6:25-34). I think often of how I hardly know any Christian who lives it out or even comes near to doing so. It’s simply too radical. Do not worry? Don’t worry about what we shall eat or drink or wear?? Just seek first God’s kingdom and everything will be OK? Wow, that’s faith in God’s providence.

Isn’t it the worry of what people would eat, drink and wear in future that motivates people to save and invest for the future? Isn’t it simply the lack of trust that God will provide in every way that makes us just focus on accumulating and investing money for ourselves and our future, rather than using it to help those who need it more than us right now?

I’ve got so many more things to say. But I’ll leave it at here. I do hope to read up more about what Christians think of investment. And I’m going to pray about what I should do with the money. As for why I’ve come to the above radical conclusion, read my Poverty and the Moral Responsibility of the Rich to the Poor and Encountering Peter Singer.

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18 Comments

  1. Pastor Prince on Sunday shared that next 2 weeks, Lord has get him to have special prayer for those who want to invest in His House in 1 north. Maybe you could ask HS to give you direction in this area. This would be a better investment, as the seed and harvest principal works. For me, yes, I have already parked my saving there. :D

  2. Hi

    i do understand where you’re coming from, given that I share the same perspective.

    but for the sake of offering another view, perhaps God uses people like financial planners to “provide for us”. God definitely provides, but we don’t expect money to fall from the sky. Perhaps one way He provides is through our investment. Investing and saving our money does not equate to not having faith in God that He will provide. Just like seeing a doctor does not mean not having faith that God will heal. We still see doctors, we still invest and save our money, just that our trust is not in whether we’ve made the right investment or not but rather in the Lord Himself.

  3. Hi Stephanie,

    Yes, I’ll be praying about how I should give to NCC. I definitely think that giving to (investing in) church is better than investing in one’s future. However, I’m not a big fan of huge expensive church buildings. I wasn’t a fan of City Harvest’s S$50 million titanium-clad church building and the same for New Creation’s One North. My view is that money can be spent so much more wisely. There are people dying out there and there are missionaries and churches in dangerous and poor lands who need it much more than the people of New Creation need a new expensive building.

    This is my own personal view which I feel strongly about. If New Creation feels God has led them to invest so much in that new building, then I won’t argue against that. Let them do it in faith. But I’m not terribly excited and would rather invest in what I feel are much more worthy and needy causes.

  4. Hi Havefound,

    The will of the Father is not just to save the poor from their poverty. The will of Father is to save the human race from darkness, poor and rich all need to be save. This is the direction Lord is leading NCC, so dun go against the flow.

    I was at the chain prayer meeting a few weeks ago. As we prayed for 1 north, Lord came Mightily thru Pastor Lian. He said supernaturally, the money for His House, will be thru His blessing of money to the people and from the people it goes to the church.

    Also, He said that supernaturally, skilled craft men will be send to build His House. What Lord shared in that meeting sound like His building of His Tabernacle in Exodus and He wants the best things for His House. Are you telling Daddy God that He should not spend that much money for His own House?

    With more souls save in future, the money can then be used to help the poor. Look to Jesus, learn more about Him and let Him lead you to where you should be.

    Before you are ready, don’t worry for the poor first. Lord let me sit under His teaching for 1 year of learning. He bless me to be a housewife so that I have time for Him. 3 weeks ago, He send Pastor Daniel to open the door for me. This is from sitting at the foot of Jesus and learning all that I could learn about Him and I am still learning. I don’t worry about the sick out there. When time ready, Lord will surely lead me to heal them all. Hope you get what I meant.

    Shalom!

  5. Hi Stephanie,

    I do believe that the poor, marginalized and oppressed have a special place in the heart of God. Not because they are more worthy to be saved, but because God stands up for those that people trample upon.

    Also, it’s not just about the poor but also the lost. Personally, I would prefer to give to missionaries out there who I think need it more.

    Whether this is the direction God is leading NCC, I wouldn’t want to comment. I think that’s between the NCC leadership and God. If they feel God is leading NCC in this direction (and I certainly do think they feel this way), then I wouldn’t go against that in the sense that I wouldn’t discourage my NCC friends from giving. I think they should give if they believe this is of God and feel convicted to give. Whatever they do, they should do it in faith.

    For me personally, I can’t give so much in faith as I’d rather give my money to ministries I feel need it more. It’s not about saying that God shouldn’t spend that much money on His own House. New Creation is a wonderful church in many ways, but the Universal Church of God does not consist only of New Creation. And I also feel that while there may be a place in the Old Covenant for beautiful buildings that reflect God’s glory, nowadays worship is something more internal than external. I don’t agree with how people justify spending so much money on big beautiful buildings because they say they want to glorify God – and they normally point back to the Old Testament. You don’t ever see such a thing in the early Church and in Acts. In fact, you see the early Christians giving to the poor and other Christians in need.

    The above is my personal opinion. It may be of God. It may not be. Just like everything else I write and believe. I respect NCC’s decision on the building, but I personally disagree with it – at least for now. But I’ll never ask anyone to agree with me – especially in a matter like this. That’s between them and God.

  6. Hmmm. Yes I do agree with you on that. In the end we should go back to the bible to ‘obtain’ our own personal revelations about giving. At a pentecostal church I attend overseas there was a sermon on the difference between Tithing and Offering. Tithing is the giving of your 10% back to God – and having NO say of where it goes. Someone who goes to NCC, therefore, should tithe directly to NCC, not to One North or a particular mission or a charity. We relinquish control over that money and just send it up to God. What Pastor Prince seems to be repeating over the last few sermons is odd because the contribution to One North seems to be an offering rather than a tithe, and it doesn’t seem right that he uses scripture referring to tithes to promote this ‘offering’. And Stephanie, I have full confidence in Pastor Prince’s personal revelations with regards to his teachings, and with reference to scripture, they are very illuminating and serve to confirm what has already been written. But please be discerning when people (leaders even) deliver prophetic messages because as Pastor Prince himself said, prophecy confirms what is already true. At the Transfiguration, God separated Jesus not only from Moses, the Law, but also from Elijah, the prophet. So let’s make sure that in the end our revelations are not solely from what others say, but rather are confirmed by scripture and ultimately personal.

    God Bless!

  7. Dear Stillhaventfound,

    Great to see you writing again, in the sense, writing your own thoughts instead of quoting another source without having you critique it. I actually have no problem with the outsourced passages, just that the italics make it hard to read.

    I appreciate it very much that you’re real, and stay true to who you are (wait…that sounds like Paula from American Idol). And in a way, I understand very well the tension you face. Allow me to illustrate.

    When you mentioned the “do not worry” passage, I think about it a lot too. And I believe Jesus literally meant “Do not worry”. It’s not even asking us to moderate our worrying. It is literally, do not worry, just like how He lived His life, day by day, moment by moment. Oh how great and perfect is His faith!

    And how do we translate it to today’s world? There will be a tension between planning for the future, and living for the moment and not worry. Even in my planning for my job interviews, parts of it I am conscious that I am worrying, parts of it I am conscious it is done out of rest. Sometimes I get so confused, it results to more worrying. I.e, I am worried that I am worrying!

    Each of us is given a measure of faith. Imagine 2 couples. The first couple plans and saves money for their marriage. They work out their finances in terms of financing their HDB, utilities cost, children’s education etc. Another couple may not be well off, and are not able to afford a wedding even. The first couple goes through their marriage, and their plan works out well. The other couple sets a faith date, and God miraculously provides for them on that day! Is there a standard for comparison on who has more faith? It is possible that both couples have done it in faith.

    I agree with you, to a large extent, that Christians’ perspective of money should be different. But the expectations and forces of society are so great that the accumulation of wealth is still the central focus of many Christians (especially Singapore). I agree with what you said. I believe many are not aware that their accumulation of wealth is at a higher priority than God’s will, God’s kingdom, God’s purpose. And to be honest, this includes me.

    In the past, I’ve thought about how best to inspire and influence the next generation. And I realized that money, wealth is one of the highest metric in Singapore to rate the social standing. Hence if I need the masses to listen, I’d need to be rich! And I realized in US, it’s just not the same. People are willing to listen to you if you have something worthwhile to say, or you’re the best at what you do, or if you have a hell lot of heart.

    I’m sorry I’m making so many separate points. But my point is…this post somehow reminded me, immediately of this post you wrote in 2006: https://www.stillhaventfound.org/2006/10/04/the-american-who-gained-all-vs-the-chinese-who-lost-all/

    I’d really want to encourage you, because from your expressions I know that you do not believe in investing, and you believe in channeling this money to worthy causes such as missions or to fight poverty. I believe that you possess that inner peace towards this belief, and God is putting these beliefs in you for a reason. Don’t let society’s forces oppress you. I believe God is calling you to something, louder and louder. Pray about it. Having read your blog for so long, it seems obvious where your heart belongs and what you’d be doing for the kingdom of God in the upcoming years.

    Don’t let this episode hold you back. I really agree with many things you said, including, the best of it, life is not about building my kingdom. Life is about advancing His eternal kingdom!

    Amen!

  8. Hi Donkey,

    Your below statement catch my eyes:
    I.e, I am worried that I am worrying!

    The above sound like what Paul faced in Romans 7.

    Pastor Prince said look to self -> we feel depressed, look to other -> despair

    So we are only to look to Jesus, what He had done on the cross, the Grace, is sufficient for each and everyone. When you worry, don’t bother about it, or you can tell Lord, that you could not handle that worry, ask Him to handle for you. I always let Lord handle what I could not handle and He took over for me and give me Peace. :D Praise the Lord!

  9. Dear Donkey,

    Yes, I’m not that satisfied with the layout of my blog and the italics are hard to read, as you mentioned :) One day, I may find time and change things!

    Thanks for your encouragement. I don’t have time to write much now as I’ve been pretty busy! But we’ll chat more about this in future!

  10. Good to see that you’re unafraid of taking bold steps in your life, haven’tfound! And it’s even better to see that even with all this change, you’ve remained focus on evangelism, which seems to have been your calling at the time with contact with so many students!

    Actually I felt that Pastor Prince’s message on Sunday regarding the building of the temple and the sowing of seed was pretty good. I don’t think that investing in a big new building for the purpose of housing a church is an ‘excess’, any more than it was an excess for the early churches to build cathedrals and finely decorated chapels. With regards to One North being a commercial venture, I don’t see a problem with that either. As Prince was saying, do we have so little faith in the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ as to fear that the shops and restaurants in One North will ‘corrupt’ the church? He also expounded a few things quite beautifully, like the building of the temple in the Haggai and Zecheriah, i.e. focusing on building God’s house before anything else (including missions, charity, your own house, etc.). With regards to tithing, I never used to tithe because I simply didn’t have the revelation. Until the comparison of God sowing in the form of his son Jesus Christ and the reaping of millions of new sons was made on Sunday. For some weird reason that clinched me. I wonder if anyone else was touched by that particular exposition.

  11. Hi Charles and Ken,

    I don’t really want to talk so much about the building. As a person who currently attends NCC, I want to respect what NCC is doing with the building and not be too critical. Of course, I disagree with NCC spending so much money on a building. I can’t change my view on this. But I have no intention to attack NCC on this matter either.

    I believe fully in “prosperity with a purpose”. I believe in being “blessed to be a blessing.” And that is the reason why I disagree with spending so much on a building. This is not just about NCC. City Harvest did so with their building. And so have many churches.

    I think about the S$100-S$200 million and how that could be used to bless so many other people. Personally, I think God would be more pleased if we were to use a whole lot of that money to bless the poor and support thousands of missionaries who need it so much more than we do. That doesn’t mean we don’t get a building for ourselves. But I think we don’t have to spend so much on one.

    Regarding the early church building Cathedrals and all, I’m not sure what you’re referring to. The early church (as recorded in the Scriptures) shared with those in need even if it meant sacrificing greatly.

    One great thing about New Creation is that it recognizes a distinction between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. And, as I’ve said before, the focus was definitely on a physical/material house of God in the OT. But as far as I know, that’s not the case in the NT. Something has changed. And when many churches point back to the OT and argue how the people of God spent so much money to make the temple and all beautiful because God deserves it, to me that just doesn’t hold in the NT. That’s my view for now.

    Cheers guys! :)

  12. Hi. I’m new. I know this is kind of off topic but can I just come out and say this: God wants us blessed financially also because he is super rich, loves us intensely, and like any father he wants us to enjoy our lives. Didn’t Jesus say he came so we could have and enjoy our lives to the full, in super-abundance, to an excessive degree? (John 10:10) Yes, he wants us to be a blessing and help spread the gospel. But, let’s not underestimate the heart of our Father. Not many other things please him like seeing his kids weighed down with his goodness, having too much. I believe he longs to overwhlem us with riches, like he did with Abraham and Issac and Jacod, and Jospeh and Solomon. (And that was BEFORE Jesus!) Yes, you can only drive one car at a time, live in one house at a time, wear one outfit at a time, be on one vacation at a time. But, I believe God delights when we have choices. There’s nothing we want materially that we shouldn’t have. That’s a part of the full gospel and not to be looked down upon at all. Especially by a world with so much poverty. We need to expect to have more than more than enough. Praise God. So, I just had to put that out there at the risk of sounding greedy.

    Erna from Chicago

  13. Also, I know the “do not worry” command seems impossible. But the HS can help us with anything. And I can testify that not worrying is the ONLY thing that produces results. Blessing flows richly in a worry-free atmosphere.
    And about the expensive NCC building, I admit I have very few details. But has anyone read the old testament, in Kings and Chronicles? Remember how God led his people to spend way more on his house than what PP is proposing. The churches of old would make the new NCC look like…well, use your imagination. Some of those places were made of pure gold, valuing up into the billions. What’s a couple $100 million to our Father? And if that’s how much he approves to spend on a building, how much more is there left over for those he sent his Son to die for? Nobody will go without b/c NCC is spending a few $100 million on their building. That piddly amount won’t break God’s bank. The lights in heaven won’t even flicker. There’s still more than more than enough to help the hurting. We can do it all.

    Erna

  14. Dear Erna,

    Thanks for your comments. I disagree with some of the things you’ve said but I won’t get into it here. I’ve got so much more things to say about how Christians ought to use our money and will write more another time. Hope to see your comments then. Cheers!

  15. Dear stillhaventfound,

    Do you recall the parable of the talents in Matthew 25? The master was most pleased with the servant that took the 5 talents and traded it to make 5 more (100%).

    I picked up a few pointers from this parable:
    1. We make smart decisions to invest our money to make more money (100%).
    2. The money we make is for Christ.
    3. The least we could do is let the bank manage our money to earn interest.
    4. The money we have comes from God and we are entrusted with it.

    When i meditated on this parable, i realized that at the top of the list, making a smart investment decision is God’s best choice.

    Hence to invest or not to invest, this parable gives the answer.

  16. It is written, “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the GOSPEL PREACHED to them.” (Mat 11:5, KJV)

    While the sick is healed and dead resurrected, God’s will for the poor is to be delivered by having gospel preached to them, not by money given to them.

    Concerning the use of money, it is written, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine…” (Hag 2:8)

    So when we offer ‘our’ money for any godly purpose, be it mission works or building the House of God, we are actual allowing God to blessed us with the joy of offering to Him, for His Kingdom purposes, His own money.

    God blessed us financially so that we can be blessed with the joy of David, a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22) when we use His money to build the House of God (1 Ch 29:9).

  17. “””Dear Erna,

    Thanks for your comments. I disagree with some of the things you’ve said but I won’t get into it here. I’ve got so much more things to say about how Christians ought to use our money and will write more another time. Hope to see your comments then. Cheers! “””

    Hi bro,

    I think you should change your ID to Hefoundme, it is Heavenly Father Who found you and called you, not you found Him, or still havent found, Amen?

    Your statement of:
    “… about how Christians ought to use our money …” sounds really legalistic to me.

    $500millions or even $1billion is peanut to God … but it is a lot of $$$ to men.

    Let’s look at it from another angle:
    Say this Father super rich, inexhaustible wealth, and His children in one country every sunday queues for 2 hours to attend His service. The numbers are growing exponentially.

    Then this Father told His children, “Here, take this $500millions and build a bigger house so more children can come.”

    Some of the children rejoices, but some said, “This amount of $$$ SHOULD be given to the poor!” (Sounds familiar? Judas’ spirit still alive!)

    So the Father said, “OK how much you wish to give to the poor? Would another $500millions help your cause? Here, this is $1billion, if it is not enough to help the poor, ask me for more.”

    The complaining children still not too convinced. You know why? This is because they think the $$$ came from them, and not their Father.

    (A) So some believe:

    gives $ gives $
    Father ===> children ===> build bigger house

    (B) and some believe:

    gives $ gives $
    children ===> Father ===> build bigger house

    so these children think a better way is:

    gives bigger % $
    children ==============> poor, then

    gives some $ gives $
    children ===========> Father =======> build /
    rent house

    Shalom Shalom,
    William

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