Skip to main content

The true power of Compounded Returns (June 2019 Newsletter Article)

Somebody told me once, half in jest, that while the big houses are in MCCUTCHANVILLE the real money is in DARMSTADT. Now like I say, there was an element of jesting in what they were saying. No doubt there are people in Darmstadt who are overextended when it comes to their lifestyle and there are people in McCutchanville who are savers. They were alluding, however, to the long-standing German heritage of Darmstadt with its culture of debt avoidance and frugal living. I found that this remains the culture in Germany today. While preparing for our trip to Germany we were told cash is king over there because Germans generally avoid debt.

There is an old word for living within one’s means and saving for the future, prudence. It is related to the word “wise”. It has to do with living in such a way that your actions lead to a better life. Now that my kids are grown and preparing for life on their own I’ve told them that if they begin saving now, investing while they’re young, they can have quite a nest egg for when they reach old age. Time is on their side. Just a little money saved, just a little effort on their part, will produce amazing results through the magic of compounding returns.

This magic of compounding returns isn’t magic at all. The Bible speaks over and over again about the power of planting seeds. It promises us that “seedtime and harvest” will remain as long as the earth remains (Genesis 8:22). Think about what this means. The farmer plants one seed which brings forth a plant with many more seeds. The result of planting is a harvest of that which is much greater, and this is God’s doing! God’s promise to Noah is that, though the thoughts of people’s hearts are full of evil (Genesis 8:21), he’ll continue to ensure that our world is a world full of great potential for human flourishing. God’s covenant with the world through Noah is a covenant revealing God’s grace.

It’s important to note that this principle applies to more than money and literal seeds planted in the ground. When Jesus spoke of “giving and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38) he was applying this principle to relationships. When we invest time and energy in truly caring for others we find our own lives expanded and enriched in the process.

Most important for Jesus is that we be “rich towards God” (Luke 12:21). Jesus said these words in a parable about a man now known as the rich fool. This man was prudent when it came to money, but he was foolish when it came to the things of God. Implied in this is the idea that “seedtime and harvest” (or compounding returns) applies to our relationship with God.

Turning to God regularly in prayer, reading the Bible, being active in church, these things feed and expand our faith. This faith grows exponentially. Just a little effort on our part will go a long way, and as we act on our faith, turning from the ways of death to the ways of life, we’ll experience the exponential change that is the new life in Christ. Such people, of course, die in the state of faith (they endure to the end), and their reward is great in heaven. Jesus said that’s where it’s really at, and why should we doubt him? Everything else he’s told us is true, and his resurrection vindicates his claim to be the one who shows us the Father. He is the revealer of ultimate reality.

I encourage you, Be prudent! Yes, save and be thrifty. Yes, give and it will be given you, but more than anything else, turn to God in faith and receive from him the grace he longs to give you every day.

Blessings!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Christianity Isn't for Everybody

The title of this post is deliberately provocative. Of course I'm not saying that God doesn't want all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). In that sense, of course, Christianity is for everybody. What I'm referring to is the fact that not everybody will express an interest in Christian faith, and we should accept this fact.

We should accept it because Jesus himself said this would be the case. In a recent reading from the Sunday gospel (July 8th) Jesus told his disciples that there would be those who would not receive the message. They were then to shake the dust off their feet and move on (Mark 6:1-13). In other places Jesus said many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14) and broad is the way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). Belief is the exception, not the norm.

We should also accept it because it will affect the way we do ministry. I believe it will cause us to act in a way more in line with the early church,…

Luther on Civil Righteousness

Here's a quote from Luther on the human capacity to cultivate civil righteousness, the capacity of all people to develop virtue and be relatively good people. Reformed theology speaks similarly when it talks of common grace. Luther is careful to distinguish this from being truly righteous before God.
We must distinguish between the theological and the civil standpoints. God approves also the rule of the ungodly; he honors and rewards virtue also among the ungodly, but only in regard to the things of this life and things grasped by a reason which is upright from the civil standpoint; whereas the future life is not embraced in such reward. His approval is not with regard to the future life. We believe that man without the Holy Spirit is altogether corrupt before God, though he may stand adorned with all heathen virtues, as moderation, liberality, love of country, parents and children, courage and humanity. The declarations of the Holy Scriptures prove the same thing. The statement i…

THE CROSS and BILLY GRAHAM

(Below is my article for the March 2018 Salem Church newsletter.)

This month we will journey once more to the cross, the place at which Christians claim history finds its center point. We claim that there, once and for all, the wrongs of history met their match. In the person of Jesus wrong was met and overcome. He rose three days later proving that he destroyed its power.

The wrong we’re talking about is sin. At the heart of what we mean when we talk about sin is a conflict with the eternal, with God himself. It’s this conflict with the eternal that makes sin so serious. The whole message of the Bible is that human beings have become separated from their true source and grounding. Even more than mere separation, we are at odds with our true source, that which is really good, really right, really true. There is a conflict between humanity and God.

This conflict was brought out into the open when humanity put God on the cross. The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth made plain what’s in th…