Monday, March 4 2024 - 8:34 PM

Sharing Scripture — March 25, 2023

Rewards of Faithfulness

 

For use: March 19-25, 2023
Texts: Hebrews 11:6, Isaiah 62:11, Romans 6:23, 8:16–18, John 14:1–3, Revelation 21, Matthew 25:20–23

 

Could a major bank really fail due to unfaithfulness to its mission?

In the postmortem following the demise of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), several issues appear to have caused its downfall: rising interest rates and inflation led many cash-strapped businesses to make withdrawals to meet payroll, and several wealthy depositors made large withdrawals because the FDIC only insures deposits up to $250,000. This caused the bank to sell off properties to meet their obligations. That set off alarm bells with regulators who seized SVB’s assets to protect the bank’s remaining assets.

Then other red flags appeared. A slick PowerPoint presentation to investors in 2021 identified two of the bank’s values as Integrity and Responsibility. We now know, however, that the bank’s top executives sold several million dollars’ worth of stock days before the collapse, and employees received bonuses just hours before the takeover. CEO Gregory Becker is currently hiding out at his $3.1 million property in Hawaii.

Other institutions, though, have demonstrated faithfulness to their missions during previous crises. Several banks failed during the Great Depression, but many more survived. In 1936, Wells Fargo bank president Frederick Lipman declared that a banker’s “entire duty is to protect his depositors. … The banker must always be ready to repay and so he must not place his funds in such form as to impede his ability to meet the demands of depositors.” Those survivors adapted and found ways to keep their promises to their customers.

It’s important to understand and practice responsible financial management during uncertain times, but it can be even more important to practice faithfulness. Matthew 25:21 shows that God does reward those who are found faithful, even in the little things.

Jesus illustrated the rewards of faithfulness in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. When the master left on a trip, he entrusted some of his wealth with three of his servants. Two of them wisely put the money to work and saw their investments double in size. The third servant, however, hid the master’s investment, which then lost value due to inflation. His unfaithfulness actually caused the master to lose money. The result of the story is that the faithful servants received rewards and the unfaithful servant was cast into the outer darkness “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

God entrusts each of us with resources both for our use, and for the good of God’s mission on earth. The greatest reward any of us can receive is to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

 

For Reflection

 

Connecting: Do you know the values and mission of your bank? How about your local church? Do they align with your personal values?

Sharing: 1 Timothy 6:10 states that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” What is the safest way, then, to relate to financial resources?

  1. If I set aside my tithes and offerings first each payday, that helps me keep a proper perspective on wealth
  2. It’s best to just live and spend for today, since we can’t take it with us
  3. The more I give to God, the more I receive in return—it’s the best investment I’ve found
  4. Money is just a tool to achieve what I need to accomplish in life—I can use it without loving it
  5. When I remember that there are both blessings and curses that come with wealth, it’s easy to avoid greed
  6. Other:

Applying: Discuss with your study group: What would you do if you won mega-millions in the lottery? How would you budget the funds? How much do you really need to provide for yourself and your family?

Valuing: It can be hard to remain faithful when you have few funds and are getting desperate. How do you respond when you’re short of cash? Make a prayerful covenant with God to remain faithful even during the hard times.

 

~ Chuck Burkeen

 

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