Thursday, May 26, 2016

Investing for Tomorrow (Matthew 6:19-21) by Rev. Dr. Alan W. Deuel


A father writes:  “When our daughter was 7 years old, my wife and I sat down with her and talked to her about the value of money.  We explained how you save, and when the piggybank is full, you take the money out and deposit it in a bank so that it might draw interest.  She seemed quite interested in the interest or extra money, as we explained, she could make on her savings and couldn't wait to go to our local bank.  I called the banker and told him we would be in later to open our daughter's savings account.

When we arrived, the president of the bank herself waited on our daughter.  Our daughter handed over all her savings and the president gave her a receipt and thanked her for her business.  But our daughter didn't move.  She just stood there looking at us and the president and then began to cry. "I'm sorry sweetie, is there anything else I can do for you?" the president asked.  "With big tears, our daughter said, but what about my interest?"

Aren't we all a little impatient when it comes to investing?  Buy and hold, invest and forget is a difficult strategy for most people.   Investing for the future, your own future or someone else's future or both, is I believe a worthy goal in life.  The question is – do you desire to leave a legacy that will live on after you die?  Some people do and others have no interest in such a thing.

Rev. John Maxwell writes: “If you desire to create a legacy, then you need to leave something for others.  People who have left a legacy - wealth, education, inspiration, a changed world invested in something that would benefit generations to come.  Invest today to benefit the future.”

A mother writes: “I have two sons, ages 9 and 7.  They each receive a $1000.00 a year from their loving grandparents.  I plan to invest this for their future education.”  People sponsor children in the third world for $25.00 a month through the Christian Children’s Fund or Children International.  I recall seeing a bumper sticker which said: “My money and my daughter go to UCLA.”   People leave bequests to universities, hospitals, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, the YMCA and YWCA.

Now there are many worthy things we can pass on to the next generation as our legacies.   Our accomplishments, our memories, our example as a mother/father, grandmother/grandfather, our values, our faith.

One author wrote:   “I followed others who have gone before me; they left a legacy for me.   Now I am making sure that those who come after me will have a trail to follow as well.  Think about those who left a legacy for you to follow specifically: Your parents, Your grandparents, Your aunts and uncles, Your schoolteachers, Your neighbors’ where you grew up.  For those of us in America: The founding fathers who had a dream of a nation ruled by self-government; Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves; FDR, who saw us through the great depression; the many men and woman who defended our liberties through the wars so we could live in freedom;  JFK, who called us to space exploration and set us on course to have a man walk on the moon; Martin Luther King Jr. who left us a legacy to pursue the dream of racial equality.  We are stewards of this world, and we have a calling on our lives to leave it better than how we found it, even if it seems like such a small part.  Legacy building is big picture.  It keeps us focused on the long-term and gives us values that we can judge our actions by.  Ask yourself this question: How will my life affect the next generation?”

Now though there are an endless number of worthwhile legacies, I am speaking specifically about the subject of our church's Endowment Fund.  It is another opportunity to invest in something that outlasts and outlives you and me, as we think about the future of Christ’s work here at PBPC.

We have an opportunity to invest in the future ministry and mission of our church.  Making a gift to our Endowment Fund is one way to invest in our church’s future.  The principal remains untouched and income from the earned interest is used in our church's ministry.  As the fund grows, it becomes a perpetual source of income for Christ’s work in the years ahead.

Why give to an endowment fund?  “Gifts are given which allow us to do things for Jesus Christ through the church in the community and world, which we would not otherwise be able to do.”

In our lesson from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ summons us to look toward tomorrow.  We hear Jesus’ warning about one’s attitude toward earthly possessions and money.  He warns us not to hoard up treasures on earth.  Why - because “where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”   One of life's greatest temptations, which we face daily, is love the things of the world more than we love God.

Possessions can posses us.  Material things can become idols which we worship, masters which enslave us, and gods in which we place our ultimate loyalty.  Jesus wants us to invest for tomorrow, investing in earthly things that have heavenly benefits.

Jesus' parable of the talents in the Gospel of Matthew is a good illustration.  “A master calls his slaves together, gives one 5 talents, another 2 talents and a third 1 talent.  Then the master leaves on a trip.   Upon his return he calls his servants together.  The slave with 5 talents invested them and made 5 more.  The slave with 2 talents invested them and made 2 more.  But the one with 1 talent dug a hole in the ground and buried it.  The master was pleased with the first two slaves, and praises them and puts them in charge of things.  The master chastises the third slave for burying it and not even investing it in a bank.”  Jesus is saying that as stewards of our God given resources we are both managers and investors.

In the letter of I Timothy we read: “It’s the love of money which is the root of all evil,” not money itself, which is value neutral, but an excessive love of it, an obsession with it, a coveting of it which separates us from God.   Jesus exhorts us to use our resources for His kingdom, for the glory of God.

Investing for tomorrow means we have an opportunity to put our legacy to use in some exciting ways during our lifetimes and beyond our lifetimes – for our children and grandchildren, for needs in the community and in the world.  We should always seek God's guidance in how we manage our resources.  Investing in our congregation's Endowment Fund means we shall pass on faith in Jesus Christ, the gospel of Jesus Christ, to the next generation.

Some churches endow their building maintenance or their music program or their youth program, or their mission giving for the future.   Each church prays for God’s guidance in deciding how to use the income from their endowments in their particular context.   An endowment fund is a blessing from God and allows churches to do creative and innovative things for Jesus Christ and His church.

Some churches encourage members to remember their church in their estate planning with a onetime gift.  Other churches encourage members to endow their pledge in the future, so that the church continues to receive income for its work.   It’s a way of saying: “I thank God and my friends in my church and I want to continue to support Christ’s work even after I’m in heaven.”   That is the power of an endowment fund for Christ’s work.

Investing today for tomorrow, investing in something which outlasts you, allows you to express your faith in God and your appreciation and gratitude to the people in the church for past blessings.   It remembers that our ministry today is built first on the grace of God and second on the heritage and faithfulness and commitment of past believers here at PBPC since 1888.    It means we have the privilege to carry-on Christ’s ministry which they began and to one day pass on our ministry to the next generation.

I truly believe God has in mind a bright future for PBPC for generations to come.  Let us glorify God in Jesus Christ today and tomorrow.  Let us store up for ourselves treasures in heaven in the name of the one who lived for us, died for us and was raised for us, even Jesus Christ.”   Amen!   

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