Then Peter began to mention all that he and the other disciples had left behind. “We've given up everything to follow you,” he said. And Jesus replied, “I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return, a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—with persecutions. And in the world to come they will have eternal life. (Mark 10:28-30)
Being a Christian, no doubt, involves sacrifice. Daily life can involve counting the cost to follow Jesus, taking up a cross to follow him and laying down our life for others. While it is true that apprehending the Kingdom of God costs us something, there is an upside to this cost; a return for all of this sacrifice. Jesus made the greatest sacrifice of all for the Kingdom – he gave up his life. But God gave him a return on that “investment” – seating him at the right hand of the Father in glory and giving him all authority in heaven and over the earth. In the “real world” we call this a return on investment. The concept is the same in the Kingdom of God.
In Mark 10:28, Peter tells Jesus about everything he and the other disciples had to give up in order to follow him. We’re talking about leaving family, homes, businesses and all comfort. For some reason, the religious bend in most of us wants to say to Peter, “Well, you chose Jesus, Peter. You shouldn’t expect a return. Jesus should be enough.” Now before you get totally offended and flick past today’s reading, let’s agree that, to a certain extent, this statement is true. Jesus should be enough for us. But the good news about sacrifice is that God doesn’t stop at should. He is an exceedingly abundant and loving God who wishes to lavish his best on his kids. So while it may seem reasonable in our minds, given the sacrifice Jesus made and the eternal life we received as a result of that sacrifice, to release any expectation of further return in this life on our “investment” in Christ, it’s not God’s way. See how Jesus responds to Peter. He says, “I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return, a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—with persecutions.” Jesus revealed a key of the Kingdom economy! Those who sacrifice for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel will receive now (not later in eternity, but now in this life!) a one hundred fold return on what was given up. Try to find that kind of return on any investment you’d be willing to make in this world!
When we want to prosper financially, we have to focus on the purpose before the resource. What are we prospering for? If we’re prospering for something in the world, we’ll have to accept the world’s rates of return. But if we’re prospering for the Kingdom then we become eligible for the Kingdom’s rates of return. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [food, drink, clothing – basic needs] will be given to you …” (NIV). When we make the Kingdom our focus, God will add to us. And when we sacrifice for that Kingdom, as Peter mentions in the scripture above, Jesus says we will see multiplication!
Even when we’re saving and investing for things like vacations, retirement and our children’s education, we have a choice about whether we’re making those saving and investment choices our main concern, or if they are standing in line behind our greater concern for the Kingdom. The Lord knows our heart. He sees when we put $50 less into our savings account so we can bless the pastor who came to our city to preach a special sermon at church last Sunday. He sees when we make the financial stretch to live in a particular place so we can remain connected to the Body and to the community he’s placed us in. He’s with us when he tells us to take that vacation for the sake of resting before the next surge he’s calling us to. When we make these sorts of choices for the Kingdom, all of our finances are covered by the Kingdom’s principles of return. So we can expect to see a return for those sacrifices, now and in this life, if we are bold enough to stand on Jesus’ words in faith.
Grab a piece of paper and a pen and start to dream! Even our saving and investing should be driven by purpose and vision. If they’re not, we’re simply hoarding resources. Spend some time today dreaming about what you want to be saving and investing for. A vacation? Kids’ education? Six months of security savings in the bank? Retirement? Whatever it is, write it down, detail it out and put a price tag on it. A goal amount you are shooting for. Don’t allow any shortage of cash flow to stop this process. Just put it all down on paper.
Spend a few minutes discussing your saving and investing dreams list with your spouse or a trusted friend. If you’re a couple, agree on what should be on your joint list and what amount you’re saving towards for each item. Have a look at your budget and see if there are any items on your list that you can include in your monthly expense plan. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t add everything (or anything, for that matter). Even tiny steps will make a big difference in the long run. So, for instance, if you can only set aside $10 per paycheck right now, pick a line item you want to save towards first, add it to your budget and start doing it. Whenever you see an increase in pay or a windfall, reconsider your list to determine whether you can add another savings line item to your budget. Keep your saving and investment list someplace where you will see it regularly. Don’t give up the vision!
During your prayer time today, offer up your saving and investing list to God. Get excited about your dreams and what you’re saving and investing towards, and ask the Lord to build your faith for these things. Ask him to give you wise strategies around saving and investing that will specifically position you to reap a healthy return. Thank him for giving you amazing dreams and visions that draw you forward! If you are having a hard time getting specific leading on what to save or invest for, now is the time to ask God for inspiration and guidance.