Investing is Not Morally Neutral
If you asked an average person to explain the purpose of investing they might reply “to make money” or “maximize risk-adjusted returns”.
These are common responses about the purpose of investing and the unspoken assumption is that it doesn’t really matter how the returns are created only that returns are created.
From a biblical perspective though, is this a problem? Should a Christian be concerned about how the returns are created in the first place? Is there more to the purpose of investing than just maximizing returns?
It should not surprise us that God does not view profit as being morally neutral. Consider Deuteronomy 23:18,
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.
We cannot honor God with profits that are generated from unbiblical activities. This was the reasoning behind the priests’ refusal to take back the 30 pieces of silver from Judas,
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” (Matthew 27:3-6)
The priests knew they could not take blood money into the temple treasury, ironic that these are the same chief priest who persecuted Jesus.
God cares about how profit is created. When it comes to investing, profit is derived from the activities of actual companies. What goods or services are the companies producing and offering? Are they products and services that Jesus would invest in if He was managing His retirement plan?
Jesus showed genuine concern for sick, poor, and marginalized people. The exciting news is that thoughtful investing can actually reflect these same concerns by investing in companies that are contributing to human flourishing, curing diseases, alleviating poverty, and other positive impacts.
There are good questions to ask when you consider your portfolio: Are the companies you are investing creating goods or providing services that exploit or empower? Do the companies demonstrate a concern for those afflicted by disease or in poverty? Are companies in your portfolio exhibiting care for creation in a way that reflects proper stewardship of God’s world?
It matters what we are profiting from in our investments. This is a challenge to those Christians who feel they can justify maximizing their returns through immoral activities by donating it to the church. Is this really good stewardship?
For a Christian investor, maximizing returns cannot be our sole interest, we must be concerned with how the returns were generated. Are we investing in and profiting from activities that are aligned with our faith or things that are unbiblical like abortion or pornography?
If you’re a Christian investor but you’re not sure what activities you’re profiting from, Beacon Wealth Consultants can help you find out with a complimentary portfolio screening. Give us a call and take your next step toward faithful investing!
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