Should Christians Invest in the Stock Market?
The church was given a substantial gift of $100,000. But they weren’t yet sure how they should spend the money. Someone wisely recommended at least putting the money into savings in order to get some interest. That’s when the new pastor said it…
“Instead of putting it in savings with the low rate of return, why don’t we invest it in the stock market, it has a much better return…”
You’d have thought he was suggesting all the men in the room spit on their mother’s graves. How could the church invest the Lord’s money into the secular stock market? It was an appalling thought to them. But are they right? Should Christians invest in the stock market?
In this article I’ll try to present the best arguments for and against believers investing in the stock market, and then provide a conclusion.
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Why Christians Should Invest in the Stock Market
Let’s go back to the example of the church with $1000,000 to potentially invest. Let’s say the year was 1997 and the team decided to invest $10,000 in a little start-up called Amazon. That $10,000 today would be worth somewhere around $16 million dollars. Think of all the good a church could do with $16 million.
Our faith calls us to be responsible stewards of the resources entrusted to us by God. The stock market presents a unique opportunity for faithful stewardship. Consider Matthew 25:14-30. Here, Jesus teaches us about the importance of investing our resources wisely and multiplying them for the glory of God. The best place to grow your financial resources and maximize their impact for the kingdom is the stock market.
Furthermore, the stock market has been shown to provide at least enough long-term stability to help believers leave an inheritance to their children. Proverbs 13:22 reminds us that "a good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children."
By engaging in the stock market, Christians have the potential to build wealth that can be passed down to future generations. Investing wisely in the stock market allows us to generate wealth that can be used to bless others and promote the well-being of society.
Some might object to investing in unethical companies. That is certainly a worthy concern. Believers shouldn’t have undue partnership with the world. But the good news is that you can decide which specific companies to invest in. You don’t have to invest in ungodly companies. In fact, you can even help companies led by Christians (or those who share our values) to flourish.
Imagine that you saw potential in a young person. You decided to invest in their future, put them through college, help them get their first job, and finance their way to stability. If they “make it” they’ll not only repay you but double your investment. If they fail to “make it”, at least you took a shot on someone. Would you have an ethical conundrum with such a situation? Likely not. The stock market can be similar to the above scenario. You’re just investing in a business (with real flesh and blood people) instead of a specific individual.
Yes, there are risks associated with the stock market. As with any investment, there are uncertainties and potential losses. However, as Christians, we are called to exercise wisdom, discernment, and diligence in our decision-making. Proverbs 21:5 reminds us that "the plans of the diligent lead to profit." By conducting thorough research, seeking professional advice, and adhering to sound financial principles, we can navigate the stock market responsibly. It doesn’t have to be a wild risk. It can be just as safe as putting money into a savings or retirement account.
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Why a Christian Should Not Invest in the Stock Market
For every Amazon there is an Enron. You can also lose money on the stock market. Can you imagine telling a dear saint that their money invested in the Lord’s work was actually spent by a company that went belly up?
But it’s more than the risk. Even if you gain money in the stock market, you’re still participating in wickedness. The stock market has become a symbol of the relentless pursuit of wealth and financial gain. It’d be like Daniel bowing to Nebuchadnezzar’s statue.
As Christians we are to guard against the love of money. In 1 Timothy 6:10, we are reminded that "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." By participating in the stock market, we expose ourselves to the temptation of placing our ultimate trust and devotion in the accumulation of wealth, thereby jeopardizing our spiritual well-being and our relationship with God.
How does the stock market succeed? What makes a successful company on the stock market? Most of them follow the principles of greed, covetousness, and enticing individuals to seek after more wealth and possessions. Why would a follower of Jesus participate in this? Is this not getting “caught up in civilian affairs” (2 Timothy 2:4-7)?
Positively, abstaining from the stock market allows Christians to demonstrate a radical trust in God's providence rather than relying on the uncertainty of financial markets. It helps us to focus upon eternal investments. Should I be laying up treasures on earth or treasures in heaven? As followers of Christ, our primary focus should be on building eternal treasures rather than accumulating worldly wealth (Matthew 6:19-20). When Scripture talks about investments, it’s predominately directed towards advancing God's kingdom, proclaiming the gospel, and meeting the needs of others. These will yield everlasting rewards.
The stock market – with its emphasis on greed, materialism, and worldly gain – stands in direct opposition to the values and priorities of the Christian faith. By choosing to abstain from engaging in the stock market, Christians demonstrate their commitment to faithful stewardship, trust in God's providence, and the pursuit of eternal investments.
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The Stock Market and Food Sacrificed to Idols
As you can see, a compelling case can be made for both sides. Investing in the stock market poses some of the same difficulties that the first century church faced. For some first century believers, when they went to the market to get food, their conscience was pricked. They knew where that food came from. They knew that it had been sacrificed to idols — delivered up as an offering to a false god. Having come from such a background, there was no way they could engage in this activity, and they were shocked that others were.
Yet, there were some believers who had thought deeply and theologically about these issues. They came to the conclusion that idols don’t actually exist — they are offering this meat to nothingness. The meat itself is just meat. And as believers, who are pure, they can partake of these things as they are. Meat is just meat. And they couldn’t believe that some people in the church didn’t share their well-reasoned theology.
What do we do when some people’s conscience allows them to engage in eating meat sacrificed to idols and yet other people cannot engage in this activity? This is what Paul addresses throughout the latter half of 1 Corinthians. He also mentions this issue in Romans 14-15. His conclusion is that unity within the body of Christ is paramount. Mature Christians (those who have the theological outlook to see “meat” as innocuous) must temper their freedom for the sake of their “weaker” brother. Likewise, those whose conscience did condemn them should be careful not to cast judgment upon another.
The stock market is likely similar. There are things related to the stock market which Scripture does speak about. Clearly, greed isn’t acceptable (1 Timothy 6:6-10). Get-rich-quick schemes are foolish and should be avoided (Proverbs 13:11). And we shouldn’t be laying up treasures on earth (Mt. 6:19-20). And positively we know that we are called to be good stewards (Mt. 25:14-30). So long as we are within these parameters, then, we ought to allow one another to do what our conscience dictates.
Some may not be able to invest in the stock market. Others can.
“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).
What Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:31 can be applied to the stock market. There Paul said, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Certainly, investing in the stock market falls under “or whatever you do.” If you can do it to the glory of God, then do it.
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