Going Deeper with the Message:

Return on Investment
by: Ben Biles

When it comes to finances, we ideally want to invest our resources in the present moment in order to reap the best possible future gain. If you had the option to invest in two opportunities, one yielding $1,000 and the other yielding $100,000, you would obviously pick the second because it gives you the best return on investment. Now, it is easy to make smart decisions based on financials and numbers, but we aren’t always so wise when it comes to bigger, more impactful life decisions. We don’t take into account the true ROI, or return on investment, of our time or our mental, physical, and emotional energies. We often invest far too much in things that won’t matter in the long term or, more importantly, into eternal life. 

This is what Jesus means when He says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20). Jesus is saying that we have two options. We can invest our time and energy focusing on earning and gaining for our earthly life. We can go for the high-paying job, the nice house, the expensive car, the vacations to the Bahamas, but all of these will fade in the scope of eternity. Yet, we find only a fleeting happiness in these. 

Alternatively, we can use our time, energy, skills, and abilities—the totality of our available resources—to build up treasures in heaven. This should be the obvious choice since any investment into eternity will last forever. What does this look like? It means using everything available to you in order to build your relationship with God and to positively impact the lives of other people. As Pastor Josh put it on Sunday, “We give to impact eternity.”  Not only is that the best investment of our resources, but we also have the guarantee that God will take care of us throughout our lives (read Matthew 6:24-34). It could be said that God invests in us so that we can invest in others.

Yet, we struggle in doing this because we don’t always receive the immediate gratification from building up heavenly treasures, and therein, don’t recognize their value. The Apostle Paul had it right when he wrote, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). He understood the incomparable value of his relationship with God, and he spent everything in order to know God better and love others. We should do the same.

Living out the Message:

The Heart of Giving
By Ben Biles

For the past three weeks, we have been promoting and challenging The Ridge community to participate in the Kindness Campaign. Though the campaign is coming to its end, we should continue to look for ways to show love and kindness to others with our words and our actions. Just as God gave His own Son for us that we might have eternal life through Him, we should seek out opportunities to give for the benefit of others. Those that have found a deep, gratifying joy in giving are in alignment with the heart of God and with His generous nature. 

The Apostle Paul explains his heart of giving in 1 Thessalonians, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:8–9). Paul desired to share all that he had—his time, energy, mind, heart—in order to love the Thessalonians. His love for them translated into his desire to give. 

Paul often invited believers to be “imitators” of his own faith. He writes to the believers in Colossae, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12). The idea behind “put on” is that, as believers, we clothes ourselves in these attributes. Others should be able to notice your kindness and compassion just as they notice the shirt you’re wearing. When believers consistently show their communities kindness and love, others are better able to understand the true heart of God, who through His love saved us from sin. 

So how do we do this in our everyday lives? Well, I think we make the mistake that we have to give in these grandiose ways. I have found that small acts of kindness repeated consistently over time are better than one huge act. It develops a consistent habit of giving that gradually but surely transforms your heart and mind from being self-centered to being selfless. Kindness feeds itself as one act inspires the next. So, look for a small way to show kindness and love to someone else today and develop a heart of giving.