As an economics professor, I get asked all the time for investment advice. Some ask me about gold. Others about stocks. Recently, everyone asks if they should invest in Facebook.
Do you know what I answer? There are just three things that will last forever: God, His Word, and the souls of people. That means that there are just three investments that we can make that we will never regret.
One is the time and effort that it takes to know God, through His Son Jesus. Another is the time and effort it takes to understand God’s revelation to us in His written word. The last is the time and effort it takes to help people come to know God and understand His revelation of Himself in Christ.
The apostle Paul knew that.
His priorities were based upon God, His word, and the spiritual maturity of believers in Christ. Those things made up his investment portfolio. He invested every penny (or denarius) he had in that nest-egg. He spent every waking hour enhancing that portfolio. He was so convinced of the return on those investments that he even poured his time and treasure into helping believers in Christ that he would never meet.
To the Christians in Colossae, whom he never met, he wrote (in Colossians 2:1)
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face,
He agonized over the souls of the Colossians, the Laodiceans, the Hieropolitans, and many others who had come to faith in Christ, but whom he did not know personally. He knew that, by doing so, his effort would not be wasted. His investment would yield dividends that he might not see, but that he knew would be astounding.
He was engaged in a struggle for the faith of others. His desire was to see the bond of his work mature in their maturity in Christ. He struggled for others because he knew their gain, and his in Christ, would be secure from economic collapse, inflation, or depression. He invested in the people of the Kingdom of God, secure in knowing that rust could not tarnish and moth could not consume the treasure he put there.
All we who believe in Christ have a similar investment opportunity. We can help others grow in holiness as they grow in Christ. We can encourage them to know Christ more. We can exhort them to make Christ their true treasure. We can aid them to understand God’s written revelation of Himself. We can teach them how to rely upon Christ and His Word more and more. We can stir them up to love and good works. We can show them by our lives and example how not to grieve the Holy Spirit.
But often we don’t.
Why is that? Is it that we don’t care? Is it that the concerns of this world or the deceitfulness of worldly riches choke off the work of the word of God in our own lives? Instead of producing a great return on the investment we could be making by sharing the gospel with those we know and encouraging them to live by trust in Christ, are we focused on things that keep us from seeing a spiritual yield? Are we investing in the wrong place?
Paul was so confident in his investment strategy that he even invested in a “blind trust,” struggling for the enrichment in the faith of those he would never meet face to face. If he could do that, why can’t we find the time and resources to invest in helping to share the gospel of Christ’s death for sinners with those who have never heard it? Why can’t we invest in those Christian brothers and sisters in our own church, our own family, our own neighborhoods to help them grow in knowing Him and trusting in His word?
There is no other investment that will pay off as well. As Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:29-30)