The Bible teaches us to always be ready to give an explanation for our faith.
"Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." – 1 Peter 3:15
Peter’s assumption seemed to be that our faith will be so evident that people will ask questions. But is it?
"When was the last time someone stopped you to inquire about the reason for the hope that lies within you? You’re at the market, say, in the frozen food section. A friend you haven’t seen for some time comes up to you, grasps you by both shoulders, and pleads, ‘Please, you’ve got to tell me. Be honest now. How can you live with such hope? Where does it come from? I must know the reason.’" – John Eldredge, The Journey of Desire
I laughed when I first read that. And then I cringed. How often has my faith been so clear — so appealing — that a non-believer sought me out to ask about the reason for my hope? I’ve shared my faith with non-believers many times, but I can’t recall a time when such a conversation was started by the other person.
Because money is such an important factor in people’s lives, our use of it would seem to have the potential to point people to Jesus. If our financial decisions are grounded in the counter-cultural Truths of God’s Word, shouldn’t our use of money set us apart from what’s normal? Shouldn’t there be something noticeably different about our life? C.S. Lewis wrote about this idea as it relates to generosity.
"I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them."
Just keeping a car for more than five years qualifies as unusual behavior in this day and age; keeping one for 10 years or more may attract attention. So would using some of your vacation time and hard-earned money to serve with a ministry you support. While our motives for doing such things shouldn’t be about calling attention to ourselves, it’s possible that such decisions will prompt questions, which could be opportunities for life-changing conversations.
Similarly, when it comes to investing, it’s likely that there are “things we should like to do and cannot do” because the amount we’re setting aside each month to provide for our family excludes them. But what people are more likely to notice are our reactions to unusually good or bad times in the market.
As I’m sure you’re keenly aware, the next significant inflection point for the market is bound to be a downturn. Being prepared for that from a financial stewardship perspective is about taking a long-term perspective and making sure you’re using a trustworthy investment process that’s aligned with your timeframe and temperament.
Being prepared from a holistic life stewardship perspective means remembering that people will notice how you respond. Someone who exudes peace of mind when so many others are fearful is likely to draw attention. It’s a time when you may have an especially good opportunity to be a good witness.
So remember, as this helpful article points out, the theme of our witness is Jesus Christ, the power of our witness is the Holy Spirit, and the validity of our witness will be shown in how we live our lives.
It may not be easy to bring our faith into water cooler conversations about investing. It will require prayer, discernment, and sensitivity. But if we’re in the game, if we’re proactive in how we navigate the next downturn personally, and if we’re attentive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit, the next market slide may present a life-changing opportunity to give the reason for the hope that we have. May we all be so prepared.
Has your approach to investing ever given you an opportunity to talk about your faith?