[This is a post by a guest blogger, a friend to the ministry, Cassandra Laymon. We referenced this info in our series on Malachi.]
For many folks in the church, the word stewardship is synonymous with tithing. Many believe that when they give their ten percent back to God then the remaining ninety is theirs to do with as they please – end of story. This view, however, overlooks two simple but important truths:
Truth 1: God owns it ALL.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” Psalm 24:1 (NLT)
We know this to be true in theory, but do we really live our lives this way? What about the remaining ninety percent? Doesn’t that also belong to God? How would our financial decisions change if we always kept that in mind? When we recognize the implications of this truth, we must also understand then that every money decision we make is really a spiritual decision – an act of worship.
Truth 2: It’s our job to carefully and wisely manage everything God entrusts to us according to His will.
“And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” Luke 16:11 (NLT)
To tie these two truths together, it only makes sense that we as stewards (one who manages property on behalf of and for the benefit of the owner) should only invest God’s resources in such a way that would please and honor Him. The question is: What kind of investments would please and honor God? I had never considered this until I learned about Biblically Responsible Investing.
What is Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI)?
Simply put, Biblically Responsible Investing is a unique approach to investing that seeks to glorify God as an act of worship and to promote Biblical values such as the sanctity of life, family, traditional marriage, etc. Other names for this type of investing are Faith-Based Investing and Morally Responsible Investing. There are two main components of Biblically Responsible Investing:
There are many companies seeking to be a blessing in this world, through the products and services they offer, through the way they serve their customers and their employees, and through funding worthy charities and missions. While not publically traded, Chik-fil-A and Hobby Lobby are two well-known examples of the type of companies positive screening seeks to identify.
On the flip side, there are certain companies that you may choose NOT to invest in because their business practices violate God’s Word. Here are some examples of business practices that are often screened out of BRI portfolios:
- Abortion: We want to protect life at all stages, and respect God’s commandment, “You shall not kill.”
- Abortion Philanthropy: Organizations like Planned Parenthood would go out of business if corporate America stopped funding them.
- Pornography and Adult Entertainment: God detests sexual immorality, prostitution, and the seduction that accompanies it. Pornography not only degrades women, but it a major factor in marital dysfunction and divorce, not to mention sex trafficking.
- Alcohol, Tobacco, and Gambling: If you are not addicted to cigarettes or alcohol, you may think these issues are of no consequence to you. You might be surprised to learn how many companies in these industries do everything in their power to create addicts at the youngest ages, and then profit from those addictions. These are sometimes referred to as “sin stocks,” which are found in sectors whose activities are frowned upon by some or most of society, being perceived as making money from exploiting human weaknesses and frailties.”1
As Believers, we are faced with a real dilemma when it comes to investing: Should I be focused on making the most money I can, or should I be concerned about the moral nature of those investments? At its most basic level, investing in stocks and mutual funds makes you a part-owner in those companies. That means that you are helping these companies to do more of what they are already doing (e.g. more abortions, more addiction) in order for you to make a profit. You are, quite literally, praying with your dollars for these companies to flourish so that you can make money.
And, just to put your primary fear to rest – yes, you can make money investing this way. Studies show that removing these companies from your portfolio has no statistically significant difference in returns.
This short introduction to BRI may have you wondering what kind of companies you are currently invested in through your retirement and investment accounts. The good news is that there are Christian financial advisors who are willing to help you invest in a Biblically Responsible manner. If it breaks your heart to think you might be helping vice-based companies grow, I urge you learn more about BRI. You can find some great resources at BeaconWealth.com. If your financial advisor does not practice BRI (most don’t), you don’t need to change advisors! We would be glad to work with them to help implement a BRI-based investing strategy for you. Imagine the impact that we could have on our country if we only invested in God-honoring companies?
Biblically Responsible Investing may be new to you, and it may seem a little overwhelming. Let me assure you that the time you invest to align your values and investments is well worth it. There is nothing quite like feeling that you are doing all you can to honor God with your money!
Cassandra Laymon, CFP®, CKA®, MBA, is the President of Beacon Wealth Consultants, Inc., and is the author of “I Found Jesus in the Stock Market: How Biblically Responsible Investing Can Change Your Heart, Too.”
1 Weinhold, Tim, “The Smoking Gun of Mutual Funds,” Eventide Funds, http://eventidefunds.com/faith-and-business/the-smoking-gun-of-mutual-funds/