Faith amid a falling 401(k)
I remember it like it was yesterday. My business school professor told us about the power of compounding interest. He spoke about the stock market going up, on average, 10 percent a year and that yes, there would be ups and downs, but by the time we were in our 60s, we would all retire millionaires. His talk was met with indifference and disbelief from parts of the class, but most were abuzz with excitement about the bright future afforded them by these financial engines.
I don’t know where my classmates’ investment portfolios stand these many years later. But if you have been following the Dow Jones industrial average this week, or the status of your 401(k) retirement account, you probably have seen a big dip in investments in 2016. This has many, who were about to retire, panicking and others whose portfolios had been going up, up, up shaking their head.
While Christians are called to work hard, be wise about our money and to provide for our families (1 Tim. 5:8), we do look at finances differently than the world. Building off this, here are a few ideas and Bible verses to bolster our faith and focus us on Christ, instead of our 401(k).
GOD IS THE PRIORITY
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. – 1 Tim 6:17
RICHES ARE TEMPORARY
For riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations. – Prov. 27:24
“Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” – Deut. 8:17-18
STORE UP TREASURES IN HEAVEN
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. – Matt. 6:19
DO NO COVET
And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” – Luke 12:15
LOVE GOD, NOT MONEY
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. – Matt 6:24
WEALTH CAN MAKE IT HARDER TO FOLLOW JESUS
And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matt. 19:23
GOD LOVES THE POOR
Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life. – Prov. 22:22-23
BE GENEROUS TO OTHERS
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. – Prov. 11:25
DON’T TRUST IN MONEY
Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. – Prov. 11:28
In the end, God wants us to be responsible with every penny we earn, including the ones we invest. We cannot, however, lose sight of the fact that money is a means, not an end, to following His will for our lives here and in the hereafter.
I like Brian’s perspective on money here. I totally agree with this concept. It is clear that there is the “laying up” for the future throughout scripture. There is Joseph in Egypt laying up for the famine; then there is the rich man who was going to build bigger barns, just to name a couple. I think our problem is primarily in uncertain investments. What can you invest in that cannot lose its intrinsic value like a stock or a mutual fund can lose? Is there anything like that for us today?