Biblical Keys to Spiritual Investment

(Unsplash/Christine Roy)

Apple Inc. announced it would be investing $350 billion in the U. S. economy over the next five years. Specifically, it would be investing $30 billion in capital expenditures, data centers, a new campus, and hiring 20,000 new employees. Apple also announced that it would be giving all world-wide employee $2,500 in restricted stock.

Most of the funding for Apple's investment is coming from the repatriation of $245 billion in cash they held overseas, for which they will be paying $38 billion in repatriation taxes. The investment is a direct result of the Tax Funds and Jobs Act recently passed. The act lowered the tax rate on repatriation of funds held abroad from 35 percent to a one-time rate of 15.5 percent. But the lower corporate income tax rate of 21 percent (from 35 percent), more favorable expensing rules and the movement to a territorial tax system (like most of the world) is adding to the optimism of Apple and other businesses, from small mom-and-pop firms to large corporations.

The conservative Americans for Tax Reform organization has been maintaining a list of companies which have already responded to tax reform. More than 200 companies, representing more than 20 million employees, have given bonuses, increased salaries or increased their retirement contribution. Some have also increased their charitable contributions.

For example, Walmart increased starting wages, gave bonuses of up to $1,000, expanded parental and maternity leave and will pay $5,000 for adoption services for employees. American Airlines spent $130 million to give $1,000 bonuses to employees. AT&T gave $1,000 bonuses to 200,000 employees and will increase capital investment by $1 billion. Baltimore Gas & Electric lowered utility bills. Berkshire Hills Bancorp increased their base pay to $15 per hour, gave employees $1,000 bonuses, increased employee development and training and increased charitable giving by $2 million. Boeing will increase charitable giving by $100 million, workforce development by $100 million and capital expenditures $by 100 billion. Wells Fargo increased its base pay to $15 per hour, will be increasing their charitable donations by $400 million in 2018 and capital investment $100 million over three years.

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Companies attempt to make wise business decisions. When faced with a more favorable tax structure and regulatory environment, they invest in others because it is a sound business decision. Businesses increase capital investment because it will make their businesses and employees more efficient. They invest in their workforce because a better-trained and happier workforce is more productive and stable. Businesses increase charitable donations to help the less fortunate and create a better environment for everyone.

Sometimes the business community understands investing and giving more than the community of believers. Many businesses invest and give to increase profits and the value of the firm. Other businesses invest and give because of their company values and vision. Still other businesses fail to adequately invest and give, which will eventually lead to reduced profitability, slow growth and/or business failure. Compared to first-century Christians, most believers today fall far short in their investing and giving.

Jesus believed in investing. He invested everything to give us the opportunity to move from death to life; from darkness to light. He poured into His disciples for the three and one-half years of His earthly ministry. He invested His time, effort and talents to minister to the Jewish people. When Jesus taught us to love others and be servants of all, the thought could be paraphrased to invest in others. Jesus also emphasized financial investment in the parable of the minas (a unit of currency equal to approximately 100 days wages). In the parable, the nobleman who entrusted his slaves with 10 minas each, told them to do business and rewarded them for profits earned.

"So he called his ten servants and entrusted to them ten pounds and said to them, 'Trade until I come'" (Luke 19:13).

" He said to him, 'Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in very little, take authority over ten cities'" (Luke 19:17).

"It shall not be so among you. Whoever would be great among you, let him serve you" (Matt. 20:26).

The Christian life should be a life of giving. The Scriptures use a broader definition of giving which includes everything; our goals, time, talents, focus and money. The Father loved us enough to give His only begotten Son. Jesus loved us enough to voluntarily lay down His life for us. We are commanded to give. Blessings follow the giver.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

" Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I received this command from My Father" (John 10:17-18).

"Give, and it will be given to you: Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will men give unto you. For with the measure you use, it will be measured unto you" (Luke 6:38).

"Now He who supplies seed to the sower and supplies bread for your food will also multiply your seed sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness. So you will be enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which makes us give thanks to God" (2 Cor. 9:10-11).

When we inventory the undeserved, continual and unsurpassable blessings which the Lord has given us, let us honor and please Him with a life fully consecrated. The degree to which we invest in others and our willingness to give for His glory is a measure of our faithfulness. We are blessed, and we will continue to be blessed as we give up the old life and embrace the new abundant life.

"The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation." —Corrie ten Boom.

Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.

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