Biblically Responsible Investing – Learning About Investment From Abraham 

Doug-Hanson

By Doug Hanson 

What can we learn from the story of Abraham in Genesis 21 about protecting our wealth? The crux of the story is Abraham’s gift of seven ewe lambs to King Abimelech. 

Abraham and Abimelech’s relationship started in Genesis 20, when Abraham moved to an area called Gerar which was ruled by the king. Abraham, concerned that he would be killed because of his wife Sarah (anticipating the king may want Sarah for himself), passed Sarah off as his sister. Abraham anticipated correctly, and Abimelech took Sarah. But before consummation, God came to Abimelech in a dream, explaining the true relationship between Abraham and Sarah, and sternly warning him not to proceed unless he wanted to face dire consequences: “Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die” (v. 7). 

Abimelech was so frightened that he returned Sarah, gifted Abraham and Sarah with riches and gave them permission to live in the land. 

That brings us to the subsequent interaction in Genesis 21. Without Abimelech’s knowledge, his servants seized a well dug by Abraham. Abraham brought this to the attention of Abimelech, who quickly rectified the situation. To confirm that the well was for Abraham’s use, they made a treaty. In response, Abraham gave seven ewe lambs to Abimelech to ratify the treaty. 

What do seven lambs, a well, and a treaty have to do with protecting our wealth today? Abraham had spent considerable effort to dig the well, anticipating the future use of it. Likewise, we can spend our lives investing for retirement, anticipating the use of our investments in retirement. But, as we near retirement, or are in retirement, we may need to take steps to protect those investments, just as Abraham took steps to protect his “investment.” 

Sequence risk, also called sequence of returns, can be an enemy of investments in retirement. It occurs when a person is invested in stocks or stock mutual funds and takes regular withdrawals while the stock market is in decline. If the stock market begins a long upward trajectory, damage will still have been done to the portfolio. Even in the long-term, the portfolio will have a hard time recovering from the initial decline and withdrawals. 

How can a person in retirement reduce the risk of sequence of returns? One approach is to put a portion of their overall portfolio into more protected investments – investments that reduce the chance of loss. For example, a fixed annuity (FA) offers a fixed return for a specific time. Even if the stock market declines, the fixed annuity will increase in value. 

A variation is a fixed index annuity (FIA). With a fixed index annuity, there is protection against loss plus participation in market gains. The investment is generally tied to the performance of a market index, offering greater potential for gain than a fixed annuity. If the index does well, the fixed index annuity does well. But if the index declines, the fixed indexed annuity does not. 

Another variation is a registered index-linked annuity (RILA), which is also tied to the performance of the market and offers the opportunity to capture positive index returns up to a limit (cap rate), while providing a level of protection (buffer) if the index return is negative. In a sense, there are guardrails on the investment with a maximum potential for gain combined with a maximum potential for loss. Another way to reduce sequence risk is to increase the percentage of bonds or bond funds in a retiree’s portfolio. Bonds are less volatile than stocks, which means the potential for gains and losses is narrower, which translates into more protection from sequence risks for investments. 

Abraham’s gift of seven ewe lambs to King Abimelech protected his well for the future; Abraham could anticipate using the well for years to come. The effort he made to dig the well, combined with the protection of the treaty, provided him confidence in future access to the well. How confident are you in future access to your retirement investments? Consider how Abraham’s gift of seven ewe lambs to protect his investment may translate into how you can protect your investments today. 

 

Doug Hanson is an investment advisor with Christian Wealth Management in Boise, providing biblically responsible investment advice to Christians. For more information, visit investforthegloryofgod.com or contact him at [email protected] or (208) 697-3699. 

 

Investment advisory services provided by Creative Financial Designs, Inc. Securities are offered through CFD Investments, Inc., Member FINRA & SIPC. 2704 South Goyer Road, Kokomo, IN 46902, 795-453-9600. Christian Wealth Management, LLC is not affiliated with CFD Investments, Inc. or Creative Financial Designs, Inc. 

 

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