Summary: Matthew 6:19-24 Eternal Investments
Today we are going to talk about investments. And Money. And Possessions. And wealth. We live in a world that tells us how to grow our wealth, and a world that then tells us how to spend our wealth. And if we don’t have any wealth - well, just borrow and spend anyway, so you can have lots of nice things. We are told to buy things, to have the latest gadgets, that life consists of our possessions. We are all told that we should be investors, and in fact – we are all forced to be investors. 9% of our income goes into super which we’ll collect when we retire, and some of you are now living on that super. There are seminars, books, TV programmes devoted to good investment strategy. How to grow your money and create wealth. Some of the biggest selling books are about how to become wealthy, how to make money work for you. You would get the impression that life consists of possessions. Money, a nice house, fast cars, investment properties, a share portfolio, whatever. As the saying goes, “Whoever dies with the most toys, wins.”
Well, the Bible also talks about possessions, about money. It talks about investments and investment strategies. And today we are going too look today at Jesus’ investment strategy. We find Jesus’ investment advice in Matthew 6:19-23:
Matthew 619 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
In these t wo verses Jesus gives us two options where we can lay up treasures. That is – where we can invest our time, energy and effort. First he presents the earthly option. And you know, most people on this planet choose the first one - earthly treasures. What are we talking about with earthly treasures? Well, we are talking about the accumulation of wealth. We are talking about using your time, energy and money to accumulate things, whether that’s in a big bank account, a share portfolio, investment properties, investment funds, or a flash car, all the mod cons in your large and comfortable house.
Now, when we we consider making investments, what is one of the biggest things we need to consider? It is risk. Risky investments are big news lately. The whole world economny is on tenterhooks. America very nearly defaulted on it’s debt this past week. America is starting to be seen as a risky investment, let along places like Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugual and Spain. When we look at investments we look at risk. Why? Well – you can buy shares in a company – and then it loses money, or even worse, goes bust. You can buy an investment property, and then it gets flooded and its value drops dramatically. So when we look for investments, we look for sound ones. And typically, if we are looking for sound investments, traditionally the safest investments have been cash in the bank and houses. There’s even the expression: “Safe as houses.” But even those traditionally safe investments haven’t proved that great in the last few years. Since 20008 and the onset of the Global Financial Crisis, our attitudes to investments have changed. The bottom fell out of the stock market. Some countries went bankrupt – or very close to it. Even the safe investments - like money in the bank, in some countires whole banks went broke and people lost their savings. And as for houses, good old safe houses. Today if you want to sell your house you may have to sell it for less than you bought it for, and they say it may be like that for the next 10 years.
Investments – they can be risky. And so too in Jesus’ day. Back then people tended to invest in expensive clothes, cloth, and precious metals, which is why Jesus says:
Matthew 619 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy
And if the moths and rust don’t destroy those investments, as Jesus says, thieves can break in and steal them. And similar things can happen to the things people invest in today. You can have shares or savings in a safe bank, and then a rogue trader in that bank loses all the bank’s money. You can have an investment property that gets flooded, and then the insurance company won’t come to the party. Jesus is telling us that no matter how sound we think our earthly investments are, there is always the risk they can lose their value – either partially or totally. And even if you do happen to dodge all the financial pitfalls and end your life with the most toys, end your life with a decent amount of wealth, well, as the saying goes, you can’t take it with you. Take Kerry Packer, one of Ausralia’s richest men ever. When he died in 2005 his net worth was estimated at about $6.5 billion. But in the end – he couldn’t take a single cent of it with him. And none of it is any use to him at all when he faces the judgement throne of God.