“On Wall Street you will hear many people give opinions,” a partner with a financial firm warned a group of interns. “You must learn to watch where people put their money and not where they say you ought to put it. Their actions will tell you more than their talk.”
It was a good lesson, one that has application for biblical Christians. As Matthew wrote, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
A friend of mine named Wayne was severely tested in this area. He had invested a seven-figure amount in a company in a private transaction. After several years the investment went sour, and Wayne, because the terms of the investment had been egregiously violated, had every legal right to sue the company’s owner and recover his investment.
But there was a problem. Wayne was an outspoken Christian and the company’s owner was also a believer. Wayne knew his Bible and understood that the apostle Paul told those at the Corinthian church that they shouldn’t sue one another in public courts, because it would harm the name of Christ. Paul went even further and said it’d be better to suffer loss than to shame Christ publicly.
As Wayne thought this through he wondered, “Did Paul really mean all investments, even ones this large? Did Paul mean all situations, even ones where the case was clearly a severe wrong? Did Paul really mean money issues as well as personal affronts?”
Against the advice of his lawyers, and several other paid counselors, Wayne chose to forgo a lawsuit and try to work things out privately. After extensive negotiations, the company’s owner only became more entrenched in his violations: no repentance, no movement at all, no hope of recovering a cent of the substantial investment.
But Wayne held his ground. As an eyewitness observer, I watched this drama unfold and it made an indelible impression on me. I cannot help but believe it also influenced his advisers, who weren’t all believers. Wayne talked a solid-game as a believer and he lived it out even at the expense of seven figures, which was no small amount for him.
I have since done a lot of biblical financial counseling and Christian arbitration. I seldom encounter Christians with the conviction Wayne showed when even small amounts of money are on the line. I often hear, “I don’t care what Paul said,” or, “I don’t believe that applies to me in my situation.”
Wayne’s example provides a good opportunity for you and me to ask ourselves:
- “Am I willing to follow God’s way, even if it costs me money?”
- “Is there an amount of money that I could not stomach losing?”
- “Am I willing to suffer monetary loss rather than shame the name of Christ, even if the amount has a lot of zeros ahead of the decimal point?”