A Little Bit over a Long Time… Reward
I remember the first time I sat down with a financial advisor and he told me the simplest principle for investing. A little bit of money, put away consistent over a long period of time reaps a huge reward. He was advocating that we begin immediately setting aside just a little bit of money for a long term investment in our years of retirement.
I remember it because he pulled out a chart. I was about the age of 25 at the time. He said, if I invested just $100 a month in an IRA that averaged 8% interest, I would have over $500,000 in that account by the age of 70. That was astounding. If Denise and I could each put in $100 a month, we would have over $1,000,000 for retirement. At the end of the chart, he showed us that even though the total of our deposits over that 45 year time span would only be $110,000... because of compound interest, the account would grow to over one million bucks. That was astounding. I had never heard that before. A little bit over a long time brings a great reward.
And while the article is not about retirements savings (even though it is a Biblical principle to set aside for your future), it does bring up a principle about the way that God designed the universe.
When we are faithful with just a little bit over a long period of time, it brings about a great reward.
As I read the Bible, one of the things I have noticed is that it is filled with stories about great men and women of faith who made tremendous choices or sacrifices and saw amazing things happen in their lives. We seem to think that most of these heroes of the faith got to be great men in three verses… because that is all the time it took to tell us the preamble to the story. But what we fail to notice is that God rarely does great things with people without a consistent demonstration of their faith before that moment.
Joshua is my favorite character of the Old Testament. In the book of Joshua, we see him make powerfully good decisions and win remarkable battles over and over again under the direction of God. He was an amazing leader (and he was in his late 70’s or 80’s when this happened.) But what we see in him at the end was a by-product of great choices in his youth and consistency leading under the direction of Moses for forty years before that time. He didn’t suddenly emerge the leader of God’s people. He daily grew into that position over 40 years. A little bit over a long period of time.
David is another character that we love. He killed Goliath in his teenage years. He became one of the youngest and most successful generals in Israel’s history. He was a shepherd who married a princess. He went on to be the most beloved King of Israel’s history. Yet, his character did not develop in a moment. It was years spent meditating on the Law of God as a shepherd boy out with the sheep. It was consistently shown in character as he served in his family in the lowliest of responsibilities and didn’t complain. His character developed slowly under the radar. A little bit over a long pried of time.
We miss that sometimes. Our life and faith development is an investment that we make a little bit over a long period of time. Then we see reward. The big decisions in life are not hard when all the little decisions in life have been faithful. Faithfulness builds a pattern that leads to godliness in our lives.
We are just not very patient.
Let me encourage us. I love our church. Our desire to follow God is not based on some success model to try to get rich or get big or get noticed. Our desire to follow God is not about making big decisions or leading news worthy events. It is about being faithful to God for who he calls us to be today. And investing today’s faithfulness, bit by bit, over a long period of time to see something amazing happen with it.
Keep teaching… you don’t know how the few things you share consistently might make a long term difference in the life of someone.
Keep reading your Bible… knowing God does not happen in a moment, and a great relationship takes intentionality and time to see the prize.
Keep giving… we never know the effect our gift has into the overall ministry of the Kingdom. But the faithfulness we demonstrate builds into a tried and true faith in God’s provision.
Keep making right choices… right choices keep your future path clear and you witness intact. Faithfully choosing to do what is right keeps your way straight and certain.
Keep serving… you don’t know when the eyes of your children are on you to see if your faith in God will last when it’s hard, and not just when it is easy.
Keep coming…. you may never know the person who counted on your few comments to them every week to make it through the week. (Or as one person shared with me a few weeks ago... church is the only pace I get a hug all week long.)
Keep your commitments… when God is faithful and we are faithful in return, these are the stories we will tell to our grandchildren one day about how good God was. Even if it is a sacrifice (like our commitments to For This Generation and the Next)… it may be in the classrooms you helped build that your children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren learn about God.
Proverbs 3:3-4 3 Let love and faithfulness never [consistently, continually] leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then [after some time] you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man...
A little bit over a long period of time brings reward.
I don’t know if I will retire a millionaire. (When I was 25, things like eating and rent seemed to get in the way.) But I do know that I want to get to the end of my life and be able to see the fruit of faithfulness. God promises to compound our faithfulness with interest all around us. And that’s a return on investment you CAN count on.