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.