Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt 6:19-21). Is there a specific way to “lay up treasure in heaven”?
Jesus addressed this question a little later in His ministry with this story, “Now He was also saying to the disciples, ‘There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and this steward was reported to him as squandering his possessions. And he called him and said to him, “What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.” And the steward said to himself, “What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the stewardship, they will receive me into their homes.” And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, “How much do you owe my master?” And he said, “A hundred measures of oil.” And he said to him, “Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.” Then he said to another, “And how much do you owe?” And he said, “A hundred measures of wheat.” He said to him, “Take your bill, and write eighty.” And his master praised the unrighteous steward because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteousness wealth, that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.’ ” (Lk 16:1-9).
For those of you with a prophet bent, please set aside the morality questions regarding the manager’s scruples and focus on Jesus’ point. The steward was using money to make sympathetic friends who would welcome him when he lost his job. Jesus makes it clear that we can literally “send it on ahead” by using our money to make friends that will welcome us into our eternal dwelling place (vs 9). This is a revolutionary investment strategy. But IT IS a strategy nonetheless that we can adopt in regard to our material possessions.
Just as we can choose a conservative investment strategy of cash, bonds, and a few stocks, or an aggressive investment strategy of less cash and bonds, more stocks, we can literally choose an alternative investment strategy of sending our money on ahead by using it to make friends who will welcome us “into the eternal dwellings.” Can this be called an “investment strategy,” and can it be compared to standard investment practice? If so, why don’t we hear about it in these terms more often. Or better yet, why don’t we put it into practice?
I have some ideas and we will talk about them next time.