God Doesn't Love Your 401k

I read an interesting article today in The Christian Century entitled “An Alternative Investment Plan: Economics for Disciples” by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. I appreciated the article, but I confess I a struggle with Jonathan’s thesis, and I imagine that many people - Christians and otherwise - will struggle with it as well.

Hartgrove writes: “Most of us are too invested in securing our futures to trust Jesus for the good life now.” Hartgrove utilizes the phrase “the economics of providence” throughout the article and leans heavily upon Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” as his primary text.

Hartgrove lays out a compelling argument for complete trust in God’s providential care for us regarding all things economic. He challenges the reader with convicting questions: “Do we really trust the abundance of God’s economy or the goodness of God’s family?” and “Could it be that responsible Christian parents should give away all their extra money each month instead of putting it into a college savings account or an IRA?” His answer is unambiguous: “this is what Jesus challenges us to do – to entrust all ourselves and our resources to God’s kingdom alone.”

Aye, there’s the rub!

I am a father of two teenagers. I am a pastor and my wife is an artist. Am I not to think about my children’s future? Am I not to think about what lies ahead for my wife and I should we make it into our 70’s? Or should I simply trust God to work out all of the details? Is this what the Bible teaches? Is this what Jesus truly meant when he said to store up treasure in heaven?

I realize that we live in the most affluent society in history. I realize that even as a card carrying member of the lower middle class I make more than 90% of the people in the world. And the reality is, my wife and I give away as much as we can; sometimes more than we should. But my children are growing up in a culture that pushes against the kingdom values that we are trying to instill in them.

Although I completely agree that our “treasures” are not of this world; and I also agree that we should invest in things that have eternal value; I also feel obligated to invest in my 401k as well as do everything I can to ensure that my children are able to survive in the world.

Solomon says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), but he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say, “in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

In Proverbs 16:3 he says “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

Perhaps it’s not so much either/or as it is both/and.


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