With People, Philanthropy, Not Investment

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Maybe we should stop investing in our children, spouses, country, and Church. An investor is someone who gives with the expectation of gain. They put out, hoping to get back, give while hoping for gain. The problem is that, as far as I can tell, investment mentality has very little place in the life of a Christian. Keep in mind, I’m referring to human interaction. I have no opinion as to the morality of financial investments, nor do I have the money to buy such an opinion. However, I have had quite a bit of human interaction in my life, so let’s start there.

We’ve all met people who’ve lived as investors their whole lives. They’re the ones who’re soured, bitter, and severely disappointed at what life has given back. They keep an Ebenezer eye on the world through squinty twitches. Investors keep close tabs on their investments. They watch intently to see which ones offer the biggest returns and divert their funds accordingly. The best investments are the ones which require the least output and offer the greatest return, so a good investor will focus more efforts on those.

A lifelong investor in people will be quick to say things like, “After all I’ve done…” and “I’m just so disappointed” and–after the worst letdowns–“I expected more”. Parents invest in their children. Spouses invest in their spouses. Christians invest in their “relationship” with God.

There are short-term and long-term investments, and neither have good outlooks.

Short-terms often look like giving someone a compliment in hopes that they’ll say the same about you. Even if they do, you’re not satisfied. Why? Well, first, you wrenched it out of them by dishonest means, like a mini version of a shotgun wedding; so how could that ever pass as genuine? Second, in merely seeing an ATM in front of you, and not a person, you gave no real compliment (you don’t flatter a machine), but instead spouted nonsense as a penny stock investment with a promised immediate return.

Long-terms look like marrying someone now, but hoping they’ll be someone else later. Long-terms are children as a means of happiness at some point. Long-terms hurt worst.

The subtle money changing is often so quiet and innate that we don’t see it happening. How many times do we offer a sacrifice on our part while surreptitiously attaching fees to each transaction?

“I’ll forgo this personal desire for my kids now, but when they’re older I’ll be comfy and taken care of.”

“I’ll give (tolerate) such and such in my spouse for the time being, but they’ve just GOTTA change eventually.”

“Of course I’ll give to God, but He dang well better use it to my liking.”

Those are the easy ones to pick out, the clear investments. What about the sneakier ones?

“I’ve done everything I can as best as I can. Why won’t my child love me back?”

“I’ve put so much time and effort into our relationship; the least she could do is…”

“I’ve worked quite hard for the Church, in service of my fellow man. I’ve been the ‘good Christian’. Why is this happening to me now?”

People who invest in other people will always be let down and inevitably, invariably be bankrupt, because humanity is not a reservoir of multiplication which springs back heaps of blessings on us, thereby completing our self-fulfillment project. Humanity is God’s way of giving us the utmost opportunities to experience real love. JPII said “the person is a good towards which the only proper and adequate attitude is love”, not investment.

Investors see refunds and returns and, since humans are neither of those, they will always come up empty.

One thing investors DO understand, though, is that what they have to give is worthwhile and expensive. Every single human, by virtue of the name, is priceless and worth every penny in the universe. Each of us, regardless of our actions, is worthy of everyone else’s sacrifice. In fact, our ability to give of ourselves, regardless of the cost, is what enables us to truly love.

In the light of such goodness, it would seem best, then, for us to set aside our investments and fees. Taxes and tariffs should fall by the wayside when we turn to face another person. When we interact with humanity, made in God’s image and likeness, we should treat them as such. It seems most logical to treat others in the same way their Progenitor would treat them.

And He’s a Giver. He is, as the un-curtained Wizard of Oz says, a “good deed doer”. God is a philanthropist.

So, when interacting with people, philanthropy, not investment, is the way to go. If you have children, instead of investing in the hopes that they’ll grow up to be ________ or do ______, why not use your every breath to show them time and time again how worthwhile they are–right now, as they are–no matter what they grow up to be or do?

The same goes for marriage. Whether she cheats on you or he never changes one iota, why not hand over the great worth that you are to your spouse so that your spouse might never doubt his or her own worth? Then, instead of ever being tempted to say, “Look at what I’ve given to you all these years!”, you’ll be able to say, “You’re worth every moment of my life!”

In this mechanistic culture of death, made up of people confused as to their dignity, why not “throw ourselves upon the gears” and remind them through our daily, constant sacrifice that no one is expendable or worthless?

On all fronts, in all encounters with people, philanthropy, not investment is the only adequate and proper response. It’s how God has dealt with you, so why not respond in like kind?

Long story short, don’t invest in, give to.

Nic Davidson

Nic Davidson

Nic Davidson and his wife joined the Church in ’08 after growing up in the Assemblies of God. He was a youth minister in Duluth, MN, spent 3 years working as a missionary on the Caribbean island of Dominica while his wife attended Med School, and just finished writing a 3-year youth ministry curriculum for the Diocese of Duluth, MN. While on-island, he and his wife adopted three wonderful siblings. He has returned to the States and blogs at Death Before Death and keeps you updated on his family at The Dynamic Davidson Duo.

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1 thought on “With People, Philanthropy, Not Investment”

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    I think I can agree with the sentiment here, though I don’t know that it meshes well with Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) that speak in terms of how we invest ourselves, or with Hebrews 12:2 where Jesus is said to endure the cross “for the joy set before Him.” He is indeed loving in His self-sacrifice on behalf of others, though he does so with a hope in mind, a payoff, as it were, yet one with both His benefit (joy) and others’ ultimate good at heart.

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