Investing Wisely and Morally
There are really only a few things you can do with your money.
You can spend it. You can save it. You can give it away. You could throw it away on the lottery, but that would come under foolish ways to spend. Finally, you can invest it.
The last – investing – can greatly affect how much we all spend, save or give away.
In David McCullough’s biography of the Wright Brothers, who built and flew the first airplane in 1903, the author relates that Orville and Wilbur became rich from their remarkable invention. Instead of becoming avaricious or prideful, they tried to model stewardship taught to them by their father, Bishop Milton Wright.
Orville liked to say they were “well-to-do” rather than “wealthy,” and often quoted his father: “All the money anyone needs is just enough to prevent one from being a burden to others.”
That’s fine as far as it goes. But wouldn’t it be even better to have more than enough for one’s own needs in order to have enough to be a blessing to others? The bishop would no doubt agree, and was just warning against greed.
Complacency Is not a Virtue
Jesus Himself cautioned against the folly of being content to sit on cash or any bounty from God without putting it to good use.
In the Parable of the Talents (a form of money in Jesus’s time) He praises two servants who invest their master’s money and reap dividends, but sharply rebukes a third servant who merely hid the money he was given and so there was no increase.
In Matthew 25: 25, the third servant desperately tries to explain: “And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.’”
While reassuring us of providence (“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19), the Bible gives ample advice about managing our wealth.
The Book of Proverbs comes down hard on laziness.
“Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6: 6-8)
“Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house.” (Proverbs 24:27)
Financially speaking, this means making wise investments with our time and money before spending what we have on non-essentials.
Teaching them Young
It’s almost never too early to teach children to truly value money and understand that there are ways to save it, increase it and not spend it foolishly.
Children can be given jobs or allowance and asked to place the proceeds into four jars – one for tithing, one for saving, one for investing and one for spending. They can set a goal to buy something they want, and learn about budgeting while they see progress toward their goal as the jars fill.
Ambitious older kids can operate lemonade stands or sell cookies that they paid for themselves so they can learn profit and loss. For older children, purchase of a share or two of stock that they can check regularly helps them understand the power of investing but also its risks. For teens, opening a checking account and obtaining a card with a tight credit limit can teach money management.
An Eternal Perspective
The whole idea of investing is to increase our money. But it can also be a way to impact the marketplace with our values, and our place in eternity.
Many well-known corporations and stock funds profit from people’s propensity for sin. They trade in pornography, abortion, gambling, anti-family entertainment, tobacco and alcohol, immoral lifestyles, and some even aid and abet human oppression, human trafficking, slave labor, terrorism and Christian persecution. Others are characterized by greedy management that treats its employees and even its stockholders badly.
You don’t have to be a Christian to want to invest your money in companies that make the world a better place. But Christians and Jews have the added insight through the Scriptures that all of our money belongs to God, not just the amount we tithe. So, it’s not unreasonable to take responsibility for how our money is used in the marketplace, including investing.
Until fairly recently, Christians did not have a way to differentiate investments or choose financial advisors who would avoid profiting from companies that promote moral corruption.
The Rise of BRI
Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) began in 1992 when pro-life activist and financial expert Art Ally sought to assist churches in providing Biblically sound retirement resources for pastors.
Two years later, in April 1994, Art founded Timothy Plan, named after two verses in I Timothy that Art’s wife Bonnie thought best defined the fund’s purpose:
5:8: But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
22: Do not lay hands suddenly on anyone, and do not partake of other men’s sins. Keep yourself pure.
Biblically Responsible Investing means putting money into stocks or mutual funds that do not profit from promoting or peddling sin.
In addition to the Timothy Plan, there are a variety of other BRI-centered investing firms. More information can be found at the Christian Investment Forum.
Nearly $16 trillion is invested in mutual funds. About 68 percent of that is held by Christians, as well as 41 percent of all money invested in securities.
Imagine the impact on society if more people conscientiously put their money where their values are.
 Quoted in David McCullough, “The Wright Brothers” (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015), p. 259.
 Christian Investment Forum website, About Us, at: https://christianinvestmentforum.org/about-us/members/
 2015 Investment Company Fact Book, 55th Edition, Investment Company Institute, Washington, D.C. (www.ici.org)
 2014 Religious Landscape Study, conducted June 4-Sept. 30, 2014. Pew Research Center (www.pewforum.org).
Robert Knight is an author and Communications Advisor for Timothy Partners. Some of this material was drawn from a curriculum from the Timothy Plan for family economics called “Stewardship: God’s Plan for Financial Success.”
Written by Timothy Plan founder Art Ally, the 112-page workbook, which, along with brief video segments of a couple discussing their income and giving, offers a Gods-eye view of money, investing, giving and cultural impact. Learn more at timothyplan.com.
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