Everyone, it seems, is thinking about investments, especially since the stock market started December with its worst performance since the Great Depression. When I was young, I didn’t think much about the stock market. It seemed far removed from my day-to-day concerns. After all, I had nothing to invest.
When I asked my wife to marry me, I was making $40 per month. Surprisingly, she said yes. Of course, back then, a gallon of gas cost 32 cents, 28 if you found it on sale. Our biggest financial concern when we married was how many ways we could eat a chicken. First she fried it, then we ate chicken salad, and finally she cooked chicken and dumplings. It is surprising how many ways and how many times you can eat a chicken when you are broke.
But across the years we invested in annuities for our retirement. I am glad we did. And now a portion of those savings are invested in stocks. So, I pay attention when the stock market goes into a swoon like it has the last three months. I try to remind myself I need to think in the long term, which is harder to do the older I get. The years are running out.
Benjamin Franklin understood the power of investments. When he died in 1790 he left $5,000 to each of his favorite cities, Boston and Philadelphia, with the stipulation that the money be invested and the interest compounded for 200 years. By 1990 the initial investment had grown to $20 million. As Franklin said, “Money makes money, and the money that money makes, makes money.”
Jesus used this metaphor to remind us of the importance of investing our lives in the right things. In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the story of a wealthy man who asks three servants to manage portions of his money. To one he gives $5,000, to another $2,000 and to the third $1,000. After a time he asks each to account for their management. The first doubled the $5,000 and returned $10,000. The second doubled the $2,000 and returned $4,000. But the third buried his $1,000 because he was afraid he might lose it. He returned the $1,000 he had been given. The master was furious because the third servant did not invest anything.
Of course Jesus was never concerned about money. But he was deeply concerned about the way we invest our lives.
Clint Eastwood’s new movie, “The Mule,” was released in theaters Dec. 14. Eastwood plays the part of Earl Stone who, late in life, is estranged from his family because he chose to invest his time in his career and hobbies rather than his relationships. The movie is based on the life of Leo Sharp, a WW II veteran who became a renowned horticulturalist in day lilies before becoming a drug courier in his 80s.
We all have choices. Whether we have financial investments or not, we are responsible for our time and resources. As we look forward to 2019 we need to ask ourselves the question, “What investments will I make in the lives of those I love and the world around me?”
Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective.