January brings with it a focus on finances. A credit card bill comes in the mail and we realize Christmas was fun and expensive, too. Other bills bite holes in our budgets. We remember we have taxes to pay and, maybe, think about putting something into an IRA to reduce those taxes and to invest for tomorrow.
Invest. I just looked at the definition of that word. It means “to expend with the expectation of achieving profit.” Investing is sacrificing in order to gain. Without fail we see that sacrifice as something good. When our youngest son was five he’d gotten some money from a grandparent, and we wanted him to put it in the bank. He couldn’t quite see how giving his money to someone else was a good idea. I explained the concept of interest to him. Put money in the bank. They give you more. He said, “You mean they just give you more money? Well what are we waiting for, let’s go.” After I quit laughing we went to the bank and he made his first investment.
We are all investors whether we have a bank account or not, an IRA or not. Another relative was nearing marriage. Her fiancé raised the money question and said maybe they should talk about what each has, investments and the like. She took him to her clothes closet and said, “Here are all my investments.” We are each investing in something. You are expending money. You are spending your life.
Not long ago I read someone who was writing about their church and their involvement in it. They said, “If I am going to invest my life here,” and then talked about how they were involved and why. I was captured by the idea this person saw their church as an investment. He made sacrifices. He put time and money and effort into what his church was doing. He took time away from hobbies. He sacrificed weekends at the lake. He invested effort greeting guests, teaching three year olds, being involved in outreach to the spiritually and materially needy. He invested money and gave. He saw his life as a legacy. He knew he was giving it, spending it, and this, the church, was the place he chose to give it. Now listen, it wasn’t for him a painful sacrifice. He enjoyed investing his life with his church. An investment costs us, yes. It means putting off and doing without. I can buy a boat or I can invest so that tomorrow there will be gain. Gain is the key. This individual expected that investing his life would produce good; gain for him, but also for others, too, as the church reached out, did missions, and carried on the work of Jesus. “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel will find it,” Jesus said. And, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with the little I gave you. I will put you in charge of much.” That’s gain. That’s what happens when you make an investment.
Ask yourself: Is church, to me, an extracurricular activity to which I will give whatever I can or is my church, and Christ, something in which I will invest my life? The difference is huge and visible.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.