I'm not sure what to entitle today's lesson. Last Sunday we discussed the current economic situation and "greed." I'd sort of like to stick to using the current news about the economy and see if we can't draw some spiritual applications from it. At least we're going to try, so here goes.
Personally speaking, I'm not affected directly by the stock market, mainly because I've never had enough money to consider investing in it, but like everyone I will be affected by the domino effect of the "value" of things going down. I've always had a pretty simple philosophy when it came to money - if I had it I spent it and when it ran out, I quit spending. And, like most of us who worked for salary, most of it went towards paying the bills and for the family necessities of life.
One of the things I see that helped bring about our current economic situation is, that a lot of people were like me in a partial sense. They spent their money, but when it ran out, they didn't quit! They spent a lot of money that they didn't really have, running up huge debts and never considering that someday there might have to be an accounting. Guess what? Someday is here.
I have one other thought about the stock market, and I stress right here, that this is simply my opinion and, in the realm of opinions, it's probably no better than any other persons' on the subject. But, it is mine and one of the reasons that I never seriously considered being involved with the stock market is because I considered it no different that any other form of gambling.
See, I told you we might cross opinions. I just saw the market as me giving someone else my money and telling them to invest it for me and hopefully it will increase in value and I'll make money. Or, even if I did my own investing, it's still a gamble as to whether it would be of value to me later on. Now this is an important point that leads us into the spiritual aspect of our lesson.
Value. Or, what is valuable to us? One of the things we can take note of when times get economically strained, like now, is that the value of our "things" change, don't they. When we have to pare down to what's important in our lives, a lot of things that we placed value in are suddenly relegated to a lower position. Yes, our values change when times get tough.
Money suddenly takes on a different aspect, doesn't it? That can be easily seen and proven by the news of a lot of people pulling their money out of banks and savings institutions and figuring that they can do a better job of protecting it than they can. And the current financial mess seems to prove them right. So, let's talk a moment about "money."
A famous person once said, "Sharing money is what gives it it's value." I agree with that premise because, when you really think about it, money does us no good unless it's used. Hoarding it may let us hang on to it a little longer but, when you get right down to it, it has no value until it's used. So, the idea then is to use it wisely. I think that another underlying cause for our economic/financial mess is that many did not make "wise use" of their (or others) money. And, I fully understand that in many cases, that is not realized until "after the fact."
Now here's our spiritual application to "money." Do you know that Christianity is just like money in the aspect of value? What I'm saying here is, that you're Christianity has to be used to be of any value. You cannot "hoard" Christianity. That would be like "hoarding" the Gospel, the Good News given to the world by Jesus Christ.
If you wish to make an application of this principle to the "stock market" we can do so in this manner. If we are going to "invest" in The Gospel, in Christianity, we have to put something into it. We can't just say we're Christians, we have to actually do the things that Christians are directed by The Word to do. And, the major difference between "investing" in Christ and "investing" in the stock market is that there is no gamble in Jesus Christ. Heaven and eternal life is a sure thing if we "use" our Christian "money," IE: our talents for the cause of Christ. Then, and only then, does it have a value to us. By the way, Elvis Presley was the "famous person" who made the quotation about "sharing money."
One last thought here regarding the value of Christianity. Even though the "Gospel is free," as in, it's a "gift," we can't buy it or in someway merit it, we still have to make an "investment" in it. We "invest" our temporal, physical lives in our Christianity and all that implies, for a return on that investment in the form of eternal life in paradise with Christ and The Father.
Christianity, therefore, is not a hobby. It is our life's work and is the only sure investment we can make. We know how shaky investing in things of this world can be, don't we? One last quotation and the lesson is yours. In regards to the Gospel being "free" notice something said by a man named A.J. Gossip in 1924. I think it fits nicely with our thoughts today. He said.... "The Gospel is free, as free as the Victoria Cross. Anyone can have it that's prepared to face the risks."
We can all inherit the rewards of Christianity if we're prepared to face the responsibilities that come with being a Christian, not merely claiming to be one. And if we do, we'll receive the greatest return on an investment that one can possibly get. Because it's guaranteed by God and not man.