By Abel Pomar. This is an excerpt from our free eBook Purposeful Living
Most of the decisions we make throughout the day involve money on some level. How we use money bears eternal significance. Maybe that’s why God’s Word provides more guidance on how we handle our money and resources than on nearly any other topic. At least one-third of Jesus’ parables involve the use or misuse of funds.
The parable of the talents (see Matthew 25:14-30) is a clear example of God’s distinct desire for us to invest the resources He entrusts to us with the expectation of fruitful increase. Whether we have been given great abilities, influence, and wealth, or very little, we must put to work what we have in keeping with our Master’s wishes.
But that’s not all God cares about. Psalm 112:5 teaches “Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.” God wants us to put His resources to work, and cares how we do it. This requires evaluating investment priorities and employing wisdom and integrity in our key decisions.
The book of Proverbs provides a wealth of insights for stewarding God’s provisions, encouraging us to pursue an investment mindset that has at least three characteristics.
- Informed – Develop wise, strategic, and intentional plans. Proverbs 21:5 states, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”
- Incremental – Patiently make good decisions over time. Proverbs 13:11 states, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.”
- Honest – Operate with integrity, faithfully asking for and following God’s leading. Proverbs 28:20 states, “A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”
God cares what we do in putting to work what He’s given us and how we do it, taking an informed, incremental, and honest approach. From there, we make strategic decisions to invest with companies that sync with our beliefs and provide a meaningful return, in relationship to society and creation, above and beyond profits. It also helps us distance ourselves from investments that are inoppositiontoourfaith.Forinstance,asearlyasthe18th century, the Quakers morally evaluated investments, withdrawing from the lucrative slave trade rather than profiting from the immoral activity.
Investing that Impacts the World
But is it enough to simply invest ethically with attention to both social impact and creation care? What if we consider how every aspect of our finances (investment funds, credit cards, even banking) can support causes in alignment with Scripture?
Most Christian consumers are not aware of the opportunities to align their finances with their faith on such a basic level. In fact, numerous financial service companies specifically seek to steward investments while leveraging profits to support organizations and causes that reflect Christian values.
Consider this example from my own office at Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECCU), serving Christian consumers in the United States. Our products are competitive with any bank (everyday accounts, savings accounts, loans, etc.). However, unlike most banks, our underlying mission is to “fuel Christ-centered ministry worldwide”, which means reinvesting profits into global ministry.
ECCU provides low-cost banking services to missionaries and low- interest loans to ministries. It may not sound like much — especially when our members are asked to do nothing more than everyday banking — but, last year we saved missionaries more than $1 million in fees. And that’s with having only 10,000 members in our mid- sized credit union.
The Pew Research Center reports some 806 million evangelical Christians worldwide. What if they all or a portion of them switched to a faith-based bank? A bank profits about $500 annually on an average family’s bank account. Adding in credit cards and loans, this could translate into an approximate $735 billion swing toward banks and credit unions that align with biblical faith and values.
Now, here’s the exciting part. ECCU is just one of many Christian financial institutions that can leverage funds into ministry fuel — helping Christians use their money to grow God’s kingdom.
All this points to resourcing Great Commission efforts (see Matthew 28:18-20). A powerful way that we as Christians can make Christ known is by actively engaging with ministries and organizations that will multiply the impact of our money — to do more good together than we can do on our own.
Abel Pomar is President/CEO of Evangelical Christian Credit Union. Previously he led the delivery of regulatory compliance change and transformation initiatives across Bank of America, and held leadership roles in global marketing and corporate affairs, technology delivery, mergers and acquisitions, change management, strategic planning and continuous improvement, and finance.