The FISHERS Magazine (Issue 231)
When I first came to Singapore from Canada in the early 70's, armed with a Master's Degree in science, I was thankful to find employment as a demonstrator in the laboratory of the Department of Physiology of the Medical school. During those days it was not easy to find a job suitable for my field of training because the British were pulling out of Singapore, resulting in an economic depression which affected the labour market. The Medical school was situated at the campus of the hospital where my husband worked as a doctor. It was such a blessing for us as newlyweds to be able to have lunch together every day. I came to know some of his colleagues quite well. Among them was a rich senior consultant, Dr C. He was very knowledgeable about investments in all kinds of bonds, shares and stocks. He often said to me, “Dixie, if you ever want to invest your money, consult me first and I will guide you to the best investment with good returns.”
He had forgotten that both my husband and I had just started our working-life and were earning a modest combined salary just enough to support our young growing family. We were most happy in the months when we were not in the red. Any form of investment was furthest from our minds. After working for a while, the Lord blessed us with more than we needed and we began to think about investments. One day when I met Dr C in my husband's clinic, I said to him before he mentioned investment to me again, “Dr C, I have started investing my money.” He got very excited and said, “Good for you! Which bond or stocks have you invested in?” I looked at him with a smile, “I am investing in people!” Upon hearing that, he turned and walked away. After that incident he never mentioned the word “investment” to me again because he realised that we were not talking about investments on the same wavelength.
What does it mean to invest in people? When I went to Canada to study, my second sister supported me during my first year in the University of Manitoba. Every month she sent a cheque to me to cover my daily expenses. In that way she was investing in my life so that I could have a university education. Without her help, it would be difficult for me to go through the first year. From the second year onwards, I was able to get part-time jobs to support myself for the next four years. After graduation I came to Singapore to get married and began my working-life. I did not send money back to my sister because if I did, I would have belittled her kindness and generosity towards her little sister. Instead, I used what God had blessed me with to invest in other people's lives. I believe that is the best form of investment and the yields could be unlimited.
Who knows what a Christian doctor, lawyer, engineer, teacher or those in any other professions could contribute to the work of the Gospel? My small contribution to their accomplishment will have a ripple effect in the Kingdom of God. But if I had kept all my extra money in the bank, I could only earn a small sum of interest and increase my wealth slowly over the years. And if I had invested in shares and stocks, I might become rich a little faster but there is always the possibility that I might lose it all! Therefore, the best way to invest my money is to obey the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, “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” (Matt 6:20-21).
To invest our money wisely under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in obedience to the command of our Lord and with the aim of bringing honour to God, is like sowing seeds of endless blessedness! Those who are in need will be alleviated from their difficult situations and give thanks to God for His providence and the giver will praise the Lord for the occasion and opportunity given him to be of a blessing to others. In such a way, a child of God is investing in the Kingdom business. This kind of investment is like seeds of love sowed for the everlasting glory of God. What if the person who receives that gift forgets all the deeds of love done to him or thinks that this is only something small and useless? Even if our deeds of kindness are not appreciated by men, we know that God is not forgetful of the services we render to Him.
Over the years we have experienced the blessedness of God-given opportunities to lend a helping hand to those who are in need and we would like to find an opportunity to inculcate the biblical view about wealth in the life of a believer to our grandchildren. One Sunday that opportunity arrived. I announced to the grandchildren after dinner, “Your grandfather and I would like to call a family conference this evening.” “What is a family conference?” asked one of them. “What is this family conference all about?” asked an older one.
After we had gathered the whole family around the dining table I said, “Before we begin, will Pastor Linus please read Ephesians 4:28 for us?” My son took out his eBible and read, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” Every eye zoomed in on me wondering what this verse had to do with our family conference.
I said, “Paul in this verse mentioned three methods in which one can obtain wealth. Children, can you tell us what these three methods are from this verse?” After a moment of silence one of them said, “By stealing other people's money.” “Yes, by stealing, scheming, robbing, cheating and many other ways of becoming rich at other people's expense. What is the second way then?” “By working hard to earn an honest living.” Said another grandchild. “That's right. Paul said that stealing is a sin and an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. Therefore, all God-fearing people must work hard to support themselves and their own families. Any kind of honest employment well done will be pleasing in the sight of God and men. Little children, you know that stealing is wrong and you are too young to go out to work, what is the third way that you can have a sum of money?” That was a hard question for the little ones so the older one said, “Through inheritance!”
“Yes, that is the correct answer. Someone worked hard to save up a sum of money and when he passes on, he wills the money to you. That is your inheritance. Tonight, each of our grandchildren will receive a sum of money from us. Your great grandfather passed away a few years ago and recently your grandfather received his inheritance from his father. We want to invest this sum of money wisely so that it will produce the maximum yield in return. The best way to use it is to invest in our grandchildren's education. We will divide this sum equally among the five of you and your parents will use the money to pay for all your tuition fees. We know that they have to spend a lot of money paying for your costly piano lessons, soccer training, gymnastics sessions, swimming lessons etc. All these skills you acquire since young will help you to live a balanced life and when you grow up, you will never regret spending time learning them. When you start working in the future, should the Lord bless you with more than you need, remember to share your wealth with those in need.” Our family conference ended on that note.
Some people might argue that we should keep our money until we depart from this world when it is of no further use to us. But we do not know when that day will come. Should the Lord bless us with long lives, our grandchildren might miss all the opportunities to learn what they are interested in without that help from us.
My mother was a widow with four young children in the post-war era. She worked hard as a teacher of the English language to raise us up and she saved every cent to pay for all our music lessons. That was how I could learn to play the piano at the age of six and to take up cello lessons as a teenager. Because of our mother's sacrificial love for us, all her children had the opportunity to take piano lessons. In recent years I resumed my daily piano practise to keep my mind alert and for my own enjoyment so that what mother invested in me would not go to waste. One day my immediate neighbour said to me, “Mrs Chua, you are so old and yet you can still play the piano!” I replied, “It is a blessing to be able to make use of something I learnt 70 years ago!”
The Bible teaches us to be content with what we have and not to pursue wealth just to maximise our earthly joy, comforts and securities that money can afford. These are but temporal things that do not last. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, exhorts us to be content in the Lord and warns us of the danger of being sucked into the whirlwind of greed, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Tim 6:6-9).
In this passage we are given three reasons why we should not pursue riches for ourselves:
Therefore, to invest our lives, our time and our material wealth in the King's business will guarantee a sweet harvest of a life well lived to meet us when our toil on earth has ended and our works follow us. Our prayers for our children, grandchildren and the unborn generations to come are that they will become people full of God's wisdom by fearing Him.