By Doug Hanson
It was my favorite school lunch, and my mouth watered all morning during class when I knew my mother had carefully packed it for me in my sack lunch. It was important that she packed the contents in two separate baggies. In one baggie she packed freshly cut slices of tomato, while in the other she packed two slices of Wonder Bread with a light spreading of mayonnaise. The two separate baggies were important so that the juice of the tomato would not saturate the bread before lunch. At lunch, I would carefully construct the tomato sandwich and experience the delight of eating – albeit quickly before the sandwich became mushy!
Wonder Bread was the bread of choice in my childhood. A loaf of Wonder Bread came bleached white and thinly sliced in a plastic bag covered with colorful balloons that spoke of a life full of airy pleasure for a kid. In those days, we were less concerned about what was in the bread than we are today. Now we can buy multi-grain, sprouted wheat, rye, sourdough, gluten-free, artisan, pita, and a variety of other breads. Just as we have more choices in bread today, we have more choices in investing – including increased recognition of companies that represent values that are important to us. In Proverbs 11:3 we read, “The integrity of the upright guides them.” How our integrity plays out in our choice of bread may not be much of a concern, but how our integrity plays out in the financial blessings the Lord has entrusted to us should be a concern.
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that, as Christians, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” I wonder how often we ponder the breadth of “good works” that God has planned for us. God has placed each of us within this time in history, with its accompanying economic context and opportunity, to make wise financial decisions. While we are on this Earth, we have a responsibility to manage God’s financial blessings in our lives with integrity.
Investing for “good works” suggests investing in companies that positively contribute to society – in ways that honor God with integrity. We live in a time in history where we have broad insight into companies. Is a company good to its employees, good to its suppliers, good to its customers, good to its community, and good to society at large? Do the products a company produces improve lives? Do the philanthropic initiatives of the company benefit lives? Biblically Responsible Investing answers those questions by seeking to align our investments with our biblical values.
Biblically Responsible Investing is a matter of Impact: Scripture implores us in many ways to make a positive impact in the world, including doing good to those around us (Galatians 6:9) so that our Heavenly Father may be glorified (Matthew 5:16). It encourages us to refrain from activities that harm us and those around us (Galatians 5:19). Our investments can be a blessing to others (medical and technology advancements, for example), or our investments can support immoral activities (think pornography and abortion).
Biblically Responsible Investing is a matter of Opportunity: Two factors have led to increased opportunities today to invest for the glory of God. First, with the proliferation of technology, we have more insight into companies, understanding what they produce and how they produce it. Companies can be tracked and analyzed in more ways than before, allowing recognition of companies that make a positive impact in the world and those that make a negative impact. Second, we have more responsibility for investing for our future, especially for retirement, with the reduction of pension plans offered by companies and the rise of Individual Retirement Accounts which allow us to make decisions about what companies we want to invest in.
Biblically Responsible Investing is a matter of Wisdom: While we journey through life on this Earth, we are taught to be wise with the resources God has entrusted to us. This is evident in the parable of the talents where the master commended those servants who invested the resources delegated to them (Matthew 25:14-30). This teaches us that we should be investing for competitive returns, purposefully seeking to grow our investments. However, Proverbs 3:9 cautions us to “Honor the Lord with our wealth,” which should cause us to place boundaries around what we choose to invest in while seeking growth.
Biblically Responsible Investing is a matter of Initiative: We have the opportunity today to invest for competitive returns while honoring God with our investments. It is tempting, however, to overlook this opportunity by maintaining the status quo and not taking steps towards Biblically Responsible Investing. It behooves each of us to consider what we value and whether those values are carried out in all aspects of our lives, including our investments.
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.