By: Tom Copland
The following steps should enable you to learn and implement God’s investment principles.
1. Pray and depend on God for his wisdom (James 1:5) and his direction (Psalm 32:8) when investing, because no human can consistently predict the direction of the markets (James 4:13–15). Listen for God’s “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12), because only God knows the future and God is in control (1 Chronicles 29:11, 12).
2. Develop and implement a biblically based investment strategy that reflects God’s will for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). Understanding God’s financial principles will enable you to avoid a lot of bad investments.
3. Diversify your investments in accordance with Ecclesiastes 11:1, 2. This requires allocation of your assets into different types of investments that will likely react differently to any particular market condition, which will reduce the risk and volatility of your portfolio. (Note there are two Financial Moments on this topic.)
4. Use minimal—or ideally no—debt, because God’s Word strongly discourages the use of debt. People who use leverage aggressively will likely be forced by a lender to sell at the wrong time—when their investments have decreased in value (Proverbs 22:7).
5. Ensure that you understand the investment. Generally, people lose money when they invest in something they do not understand (Proverbs 19:2).
6. Assess your tolerance for risk, and invest accordingly. It is biblical to assume some investment risk; however, if you don’t feel comfortable with the volatility of your portfolio, then reduce your equities and increase Canada bonds.
7. Avoid “get rich quick investments” and hasty decisions. If you do not have enough time to pray and evaluate a particular investment, then do not invest. Hasty decisions are usually bad decisions (Proverbs 21:5). God recommends saving and accumulating assets over a long period of time (Proverbs 13:11).
8. Obtain biblical counsel from more than one source (Proverbs 15:22). Ensure that your investment advisers understand God’s financial principles because, unfortunately, many Christians do not, and they inadvertently give unbiblical advice (Psalm 1:1–3).
9. Ensure that your motives are godly and not worldly (Proverbs 16:2).
10. Follow God’s directives (e.g., planning, patience), not human tendencies like fear and greed.
11. Give to God’s work, as it produces eternal benefits! (Matthew 19:28, 29)
12. Keep a balanced perspective on investing (1 Timothy 6:6–8). It is appropriate to invest with the objective of saving for future needs; however, don’t overdo it—don’t spend excessive amounts of time and energy on investing, as this is not God’s will (Proverbs 23:4, 5).
The above is intended to provide an overview of God’s principles with respect to investing. Further details are provided in my individual Financial Moments for each step.