Investing in the Kingdom
You can’t take it with you. Rob James says it’s time we took Jesus’ words on our use of money seriously ...
You can’t take it with you. Rob James says it’s time we took Jesus’ words on our use of money seriously
William Carey was an amazing man. Few would ever have imagined that a man born in such humble circumstances would become the inspiration for a worldwide missionary movement.
Yet missionaries as famous as Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, and David Livingstone are listed among the thousands who have been motivated by his challenge to “Expect great things from God” and “To attempt great things for God”. Indeed, it’s been well said that “The history of 19th-century Protestant missions is in many ways an extended commentary on the phrase”.
Dick and Audrey Beesley were just as remarkable, although they will never be as famous as William Carey. They left an amazing legacy too, but theirs was one of extravagant kindness. And if Jesus was right they did more than leave a legacy, they also made a shrewd investment.
This is the clear message of the entertaining story of the ‘streetwise manager’ we find in Luke chapter 16. Let’s remind ourselves of the detail.
It was judgement day and the manager in question had a bleak track record. In fact he knew he was facing the sack, but to his credit he did what Robert Herrick suggested centuries later when he wrote “gather ye rosebuds while ye may”. He did this by calling in all his master’s creditors and allowing them to settle their debts in a way that cost his master dearly, but guaranteed him a lot of grateful friends in the future.
Some people have found it strange that Jesus should choose to make a selfish, dishonest rogue his hero, which is why it is important to notice that Jesus wasn’t endorsing his dishonesty. He was applauding his canniness.
Jesus wants us to understand that, for all his dishonesty, this rogue can teach us a very important lesson: we should think carefully about how we invest our money. And put bluntly, he says we can do no better than invest it in his business.
Now that’s an exciting, if profoundly challenging thought. Jesus wants us to realise that if we support God’s work, we can look forward to the day when we will shake hands with lots of people who will be eternally grateful to us for what we did with our money.
Now this sort of advice could sound very unspiritual, but we should never forget that it comes from the lips of Jesus himself.
Verse 9: “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home” (New Living Translation).
It’s often been said that there are no pockets in a shroud. That’s true: we came into the world with nothing and we will leave it just as empty-handed. In the same way we are constantly being encouraged to make sure we have made a will, so that there will be no confusion over our estate when we finally die. That makes sense too.
But Jesus wants us to be aware of another important truth: when we lovingly give to others, we invest in a bank that will never be subject to market fluctuations, and where there are no greedy bankers taking advantage of the system. As he saw it, investing in his kingdom is an infinitely safer option than putting money in any government bond.
I often remember Vivian. She gave liberally because she wanted to see the smile on people’s faces as they experienced her generosity. And she wasn’t disappointed. But Jesus goes one further. He assures us that even if we don’t see the smiles in this life we will in the next – if we have the faith to allow him to become our financial advisor.
Lord Jesus, help us to see our possessions from your perspective. Forgive our selfishness and the fear that often drives it. Help us to be as generous and as trusting as you were when you lived here on earth.