Avoiding the Temptation of Ill-Gotten Gain

Cassandra Laymon, CFP, CKA, MBA

We dropped Sam off at college last weekend.  It’s a day I’ve been equally anticipating and dreading for a number of years.  I am excited for all that lies ahead for him – the independence and the adventure – but I also worry.  I’m not worried that he won’t get up for class on time, or that he won’t do his homework, or that he won’t find friends, or that he will be bored.  I worry that he will get pulled into the wrong crowd.  I speak from experience, because when I went to college I wanted to fit in and I made a lot of bad choices. 

My worries are best expressed in Proverbs 1:8-19:

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head
    and a chain to adorn your neck.                                                                                                                                                                

My son, if sinful men entice you,
    do not give in to them.
If they say, “Come along with us;
    let’s lie in wait for innocent blood,
    let’s ambush some harmless soul;
let’s swallow them alive, like the grave,
    and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
we will get all sorts of valuable things
    and fill our houses with plunder;
cast lots with us;
    we will all share the loot”—
my son, do not go along with them,
    do not set foot on their paths;
for their feet rush into evil,
    they are swift to shed blood.
How useless to spread a net
    where every bird can see it!
These men lie in wait for their own blood;
    they ambush only themselves!
Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
    it takes away the life of those who get it.

My very simple interpretation of this passage is that the father is warning his son to remember all the good things he learned at home, and not to fall in with the “bad crowd” because no good will come of it. It’s a warning to fight the temptation – in this case, of “easy money” – because there will be repercussions down the road.

Interestingly, we often think of this passage in terms of our children, because it literally opens with a father talking to his son.  But couldn’t we easily take the place of the son, with God in the role of the Father?

These verses perfectly explain our commitment to Biblically Responsible Investing.  When you invest in a company, you can invest in companies who are seeking make positive change, promote human flourishing and be a blessing to others.  Or, you can invest in companies that prey upon the addictions of our brothers and sisters, who destroy human life or in some other way participate in “ill-gotten gain.”

I can only imagine that as God looks down on us, that he prays the same prayers for us that I pray for Sam – that we will be aware of our choices and take a course of action that will honor Him.

If you’re not sure what kind of companies you are investing in and profiting from, we have an easy way to find out.  Go to SCREEN MY PORTFOLIO and input your stock or mutual funds and we’ll then send you a report so you can start to make your money matter.