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An Investment Principle With Guaranteed Positive Returns

Aug 18, 2007
Everything you do is an investment. It doesn't matter whether it's eating, watching TV, working, or spending time with others, you're investing your time, energy, and/or material resources. So the natural question that flows out of this is, "What then are the best investments?"

We know that some investments have negative returns, some have positive, and a few simply break even. We obviously want to invest in things that have positive returns. But how do you evaluate what will bring the most positive returns? I've found that the best way to evaluate investments is to follow one simple principle: Direct the amount of your investment to the amount and timeframe over which it will pay you back. In other words, don't put much time, effort, or money into things that have only a small, short-term payoff. But put a lot of your assets into things that pay off big over the long-term.

And what is the longest term we can plan for? We often think of retirement planning as a long-term planning process. And it is. But we really need to think of eternity first. You'll spend a lot more time in eternity than you will in retirement. So the first thing we need to do is follow Matthew 6:20, where it says to "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."

To invest in eternity, we need to invest in two areas. First and foremost is our relationship with God. The priorities here are salvation, repentance, obedience, prayer, and furthering God's kingdom (to name just a few). Second, we need to invest in other people. After all, the only things you can take into heaven are your relationships with God and other believers.

By focusing on these two areas first, it gives new importance to how you spend your time, energy, and material resources. And best of all, investing in these areas will always bring positive returns -- guaranteed.

But this principle works just as well in evaluating material investments. This is where retirement investing comes into play. Investments such as 401ks, IRA, Roth IRAs, and such are the first place to start. Then you move into other long-term investments, such as real estate, CDs, etc.

But this principle also impacts other areas. For instance, the food you eat should focus on long-term benefits, not just on what fills your belly right now. The habits you develop should bring positive results in the long term, not just for today (smoking, for instance, might give you some pleasant sensations in the short term, but major health problems in the long run).

Sin, in fact, is often just perceived as a short-term investment. It pays off immediately in pleasure, power, or money, but the long-term payoff is very different. "'You will not surely die [in the short term],' the serpent said to the woman." Invest in yourself, he directed her: "For God knows that when you eat of it [short term] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Most Christians know how that investment paid off in the long term. Our sins offer similar rates of return.

The things you spend money on daily should have a long-term focus, as well. Is the product you're buying a fad that will have to be replaced in a few weeks? Or will it last for many years? The more you can spend money on things that last, the better off you'll be in the long run.

This is a just brief look at the applications of this principle. Spend some time thinking about other ways you can apply it. Adjust your focus. Don't live for today. Live for eternity. And invest for eternity.
About the Author
Steve Kroening writes for Success magazine and also publishes Wisdom's Edge. You can get Biblical tips on health, finance, relationships, parenting, and success, delivered to your email inbox every week. Simply visit http://www.wisdomsedge.com and sign up for this free e-zine.
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