At first glance, it probably seems like investing and giving are completely different financial activities. We think of investing as setting money aside, storing it up, and trying to grow it for a future benefit, such as helping to fund our retirement or cover our kids’ college costs. Giving, on the other hand, is about parting with money. It’s about choosing to hand it over to someone else, usually someone in need.
However, in God’s economy, giving money toward Kingdom purposes is investing.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.
In other words, earthly treasures on their own, while not inherently bad, will have no eternal value. However, investing earthly treasures into God’s work in the world will have eternal value.
A guaranteed return
The Bible points us toward such investments. Here are three examples.
1 – Teachers of God’s Word
Our local church is a natural starting point for our Kingdom investments because it’s a primary source of our instruction in God’s Word.
“Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor”.(Galatians 6:6)
Our local church is also typically involved in so many other Kingdom-building activities, such as helping meet a variety of needs in our local community and elsewhere, introducing visitors to the Gospel, helping our children grow in their faith, and so much more. It’s a trustworthy place to generously invest in God’s Kingdom work.
2 – The poor
You can’t miss God’s heart for the poor. It’s written throughout the pages of Scripture. For example, we are taught not to just have compassion on those who need help, but to help meet their needs.
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” .(James 2:15-17)
While supporting our local church is one way to help the poor, there are many other ways we can do so as well, whether through direct help or by investing in specific Chris-centered ministries with expertise in helping the poor.
3 – The spread of the Gospel
This is a central part of every Christ-follower’s mission.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’”.(Matthew 28:18-20)
There are many types of investments we can make to help spread the Gospel, whether joining the support team of a missionary, helping to fund or go on short-term mission trips, supporting organizations that are translating the Bible into the native languages of unreached people groups, and more.
Of course, there are many other needs in the world that God will put on our hearts to support as well.
The rewards of giving
If you’re in the habit of giving generously toward God’s Kingdom work, then you know exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Countless secular studies have backed that up, finding that the most joyful people are those who live generously.
The meaning and sense of purpose that come from being a part of God’s work are tremendous rewards in and of themselves. It’s remarkable, then, that the Bible tells us there are other rewards in store for living the generous lives God intended for us as well.
For example: “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” .(Proverbs 11:24-25)
It’s important to note, however, that we don’t ever want to cross a line and begin treating generosity as a transaction, an activity done for the purpose of getting something back. Perhaps the apostle Paul could anticipate the rise of such transactional teaching, collectively known as “the prosperity gospel,” when he asked, “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Romans 11:35-36).
Generosity is best motivated by a “because of” perspective (because of all that God has done for us) rather than an “in order to” perspective (in order to get something back).
Living in the tension
Still, there are numerous passages of Scripture that speak of rewards. Randy Alcorn devotes an entire chapter of his classic stewardship book, “Money, Possessions and Eternity,” to the topic.
“What I do in this life with my money and possessions will significantly affect my eternal experience in heaven,” he wrote, adding, “We will have different levels of reward in heaven (1 Cor. 3:12-15).”
Alcorn is quick to point out that the good works we do, whether by making financial investments in God’s Kingdom work, doing volunteer work, or in some other way, are not a means of salvation. Salvation is assured only by God’s grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). So, it’s important that our good works are based on pure motives — by our gratitude toward God, not a desire to earn His favor.
This is one of those aspects of faith where a certain “living in the tension” is required. We won’t fully understand this notion of rewards on this side of heaven. But here’s what we do know. Just as investing, in the traditional sense of the word, is best done with a long-term perspective, so is the investing we do in God’s Kingdom work. In one way or another, we can be assured that those investments will generate gains of eternal value.
CCCU is proud to provide a Christian banking solution that is rooted in the principles of Biblical stewardship. Join thousands of Christians across the U.S. who have decided it’s time to bank with their Christian values at CCCU.
Matt Bell is the author of Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management. He speaks at churches and conferences throughout the country and writes the MattAboutMoney blog.
This article should not be considered legal, tax, or financial advice. You may wish to consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual financial situation.