by: Cassandra Laymon, CFP®, MBA®
Do you think God cares about how we make money? Consider the company where you work. While you may not work in an industry like healthcare where you are directly healing people, my guess is that, as a Believer, you have chosen a vocation that will honor God by impacting people in some positive way. You are not out dealing drugs or producing pornography or working at Planned Parenthood (whose primary revenue stream is abortion).
We can look at those industries and very clearly see how they dishonor God, harm our neighbors and promote something that is counter to our values. So we avoid them.
Honoring God with Our Earnings
In Deuteronomy 23:18 it says:
You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow, because the LORD your God detests them both. (NIV)
In this simple passage, we are told that God cares very much about how we make our money. We simply cannot make money in unscrupulous ways, give it to the church, and walk away with a clear conscience. If God detests the source of revenues, he does not want the money we make from carrying out that activity. We want to make sure we are honoring God with our earnings by paying careful attention to where and how they are created.
Loving Our Neighbors
The industries mentioned above – abortion, pornography, or industries that promote addiction – have clear negative impact on those they prey upon. In the second Commandment we are told to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mathew 22:39. If you work in a casino, or for an alcohol or tobacco manufacturer, your employer will only make money if more and more people smoke, drink or gamble. That is clearly exploitation.
Earning Money That Aligns with Our Values
In each of the cases mentioned above, you probably have some conviction about not working at company that opposes your values, and therefore not earning money from those industries. But have you ever considered the other way you make money – by investing? What companies are you investing in and therefore profiting from?
When you invest in a company, you become a partial owner of that company. You are telling that company that you believe strongly in what they do, and you want them to grow. By giving them your money you are praying that they will take your money and do more of what they are already doing so they can make a lot of money and share the profits with you. If that company is involved in activities that oppose your faith values, the Bible refers to that as ill-gotten gain (profits obtained in an evil manner or by dishonest means).
I’ve written before about the fact that the tobacco industry survives today because they target young children around the ages of 7 or 8 in developing countries, hoping to get them addicted at an early age. You may love your tobacco stock because it pays a good dividend, but you cannot make money unless more and more kids get addicted to cigarettes. I’m sure the thought of that breaks your heart!
It’s important to recognize how our values fit into investing. You may think your small sum of money will not have any significant impact on these huge companies – and as an individual, you would be right. I encourage you think instead about honoring God with your investments so you can feel really good about the kind of companies you are helping to grow and succeed.
If you don’t know what industries you might be contributing to through your investments, I encourage you to get your portfolio screened so you can make an informed decision about the impact your money has. Visit the Screen My Portfolio page at BeaconWealth.com for a free analysis of your investments. Now is the time to make your money matter!
Financial Planning & Investment Advisory services offered through Beacon Wealth Consultants, Inc.