By Christian Goltz, Treasurer, North German Union

Summary: Guidelines for the Christian investing in the stock market

Group Study: Discuss the need for financial planning. Ask the group for biblical applications or texts that would provide guidelines or principles for this type of planning.

Typical motivations for investing money: Using the following list as a resource, have the group share what they believe are motivations for the investment of funds. List positive and negative reasons for investing. Discuss the texts referred to in each listing. Add others that would be applicable.

1. To get rich. In times of upward trends in the stock market, many people think that getting rich will be easy. In their dreams they say: ?I just have to buy the right shares and in a few years I’ll be a millionaire.? The Bible reveals this motivation as a bad one. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. ?For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil? (1 Tim 6:9-10).

2. To not lose any money. The fear of losing money is very strong in the minds of many people. Such people tend to act like the servant with one talent who buried it in the ground (Mt 25:18), so they put their funds into a savings account with low interest. The security aspect of maintaining funds is very important, but it cannot be an excuse to refuse to take the initiative and investigate information regarding avenues that lead to sound methods of getting good returns on one’s investments.

3. To earn as much as possible. It is a biblical principle to use any talent one has to the glory of God and the best of mankind ((1 Cor 10:31; 1 Tim 2: 1-4). Therefore, like the servant in the parable who put his money to work (Mt 25:16); one should invest money in areas that honor God and contribute to the physical, psychological, social and spiritual well-being of man. Money that is currently not needed should be invested in the market responsibly.

Indicators for good investing: Ask the group if there are indicators that might confirm that one’s funds have been invested well? What biblical principles would support wise investing? Discuss the following indicators and biblical passages. Again, encourage the group to list more texts.

1. A clear conscience. God has given us a sanctified conscience as an instrument through which he speaks to us about what he wants us to do. We are often convicted by our conscience that a particular way is the way we should go, even before we can explain or argue why this way is best for us. As we seek his wisdom, God will lead us via the conscience in our decision-making regarding investments, and hopefully, with sound investing in mind, we can join Paul in saying: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world ? in the holiness and sincerity that are from God (2 Cor 1:12).

2. A good night’s rest. What is going on in your mind when the Dow Jones or NASDAQ drops by ten percent in a week? Can you still sleep? There is a saying among stock brokers: If you want to sleep well, buy bonds; if you want to eat well, buy shares. The question is: What is more important for a Christian? If he can not sleep, it would be better if his sleeplessness were brought about by this good reason: On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night (Ps 63:6).

3. A free mind. What is going on in your mind when the Dow Jones or NASDAQ rises by ten percent in a week? Are you so excited that you can’t think of anything else? Are you wondering day and night whether this is the right time to sell? Are you reading ten times more business newspapers than usual? If your mind is not freely able to focus on things more important than investing money—especially spiritual things—your investment is not the right one.

4. A God-devoted heart. Jesus asks us: Where is your treasure? This question is important because he knows: Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Mt 6:21). If your heart is with your investments, something is wrong in your life. Investments need to occupy the right place in our lives. There are higher priorities than investments—especially the spiritual life and mission of a Christian.