So what is your number? If you have started to focus on preparing for retirement you know what I am taking about. The number is the amount of income needed from retirement investments that will provide a certain lifestyle in retirement. I hope that you know your number and have been putting aside funds for when you stop working. The sooner you begin the better. But that’s not what I am asking. I am asking, “How is your eternal portfolio? “
One truth that has caught my attention for some time, as a Pastor, is our tendency to overlook our need to invest in eternity. This truth was reinforced while listening to an elder from one of our sister churches talk about stewardship. My mind paused thinking about Philippians 4:17. “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” The Apostle Paul had just finished acknowledging the financial support for his ministry by the Philippian church. What stood out was the last phrase “but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” Paul was thankful for their support. He was more excited about the benefit to them because of their obedience to God. We as American Christians can become focused on our earthly number and completely miss the opportunity to invest in our eternal portfolio.
Jesus spoke to this when he shared the parable of the talents. You know the story. If not you can take a few minutes to read it here. It is a story about a master than entrusted three managers to invest a portion of his fortune. A parable is a human story with a spiritual application. Here the application is the Lord’s investment in you and me. We are represented by the managers in the parable. What I think we miss in this lesson is that we will be rewarded for our work for the master. This is what Paul was saying in his encouragement to the Philippian Christians. If you take the time to look, the Bible is filled with admonition and encouragement to invest in eternity. Jesus stated in best, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19–21)
Let me finish with some thoughts on this passage. First, all earthly treasures, in and of themselves, are temporary. Second, the only secure investments are those made for Jesus by investing in others. Third, these investments can only be made while we are alive. And fourth, where we put our money will influence our focus in life. Let me state it another way, “We don’t own what we purchase (or where we invest), it owns us!” This speaks of all the time, effort and cost required to maintain, protect and even use you earthly treasures. It robs our focus but the opposite is also true. Guess where our focus is when we invest in God’s work and others?
The Bible does not say that these temporal investments are bad, but we are warned that they can cause us to miss what is best! So what is your eternal number? I’ll be speaking about this in greater detail this Sunday.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson