Beauty matters to painters, musicians, and photographers, but what does it have to do with investing? The creation account suggests that beauty lies at the core of faithful stewardship, and investing as well. We’ll talk about “investing in beautiful” with Jason Myhre.
Jason Myhre, Executive Director of the Eventide Center for Faith & Investing. The Eventide Center is an educational initiative of Eventide Asset Management and an underwriter of this program. Learn more about Jason Myhre and the Eventide Center for Faith & Investing at faithandinvesting.com.
- Investing is a word we tend to associate with money, retirement, risk, and return. But rarely – if ever – do we link the words “investing” and “beauty.” So why should we connect beauty with our approach to investing?
- Beauty is found when we attend an orchestral performance. When we hike the mountains or stroll along the beach. When we splurge on a bouquet of flowers to adorn our home. But rarely do we connect it with work, let alone with our finances or investing.
- BEAUTY IN WORK AND INVESTING
- However, beauty matters for our work and our investing. Beauty is an essential characteristic of creation, which makes it central to our work as stewards of God’s creation.
- We see beauty in the Genesis account of creation. God is portrayed there as a worker. He creates “the heavens and the earth.” Everything he makes is “good.”
- Seven times in Genesis 1. Of the whole of creation God sees that it is “very good.” And in the Hebrew derivation, the word for “good” used in Genesis 1 means not only moral perfection and functional excellence but surpassing beauty.
- A better translation would be a compound word, “beauty-good.”
- God is portrayed as a wise artisan, artfully crafting the world. This is also indicated by the word “Eden,” which means “delight.” So beauty is an essential aspect of God’s work.
- As we reflect on the beauty and goodness of God’s creation, we might think, who could add anything to the splendor and majesty of creation? And the bible here is very surprising. It tells us that we are to add to the beauty and goodness of the world through our work.
- THE BIBLE ON GOODNESS AND BEAUTY IN WORK
- We see this in Genesis 2:15. God places humanity right there in that garden of delight and gives them the gift of work.
- Genesis 2:15, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and tend it.” Essentially, God placed humanity in his “very good” creation and told them to make it “even better” through the things that we make.
- If God’s creation was already “very good” – if it was “perfect” – how can we improve on it? The answer is that God made the world full of potential.
- We know that God made the world beautiful and good. Part of that beauty is manifest in the things God made in creation – we can see it. And part of the beauty and goodness is hidden within creation, as a potential for us to uncover through our work.
- Easy examples are bread and wine. The grain that God creates has always had the potential to become bread. God placed that potential there so that we would discover it and make it manifest through our work. Or grapes that God makes have always had the potential to become wine through our work.
- Imagine that you are a sculptor. And imagine that one day you receive a phone call from Michelangelo the great sculptor. And Michelangelo says to you, “Look, I’ve just started work on this new sculpture, this major, major sculpture, but I want you to come and finish it for me. I want you to come and complete the sculpture and develop the potentials I've built into it so far so that when it is done the sculpture will enhance my reputation in the art world.”
- According to Genesis 1 and 2, that’s what our work should be like.
- APPLYING IT TO THE MODERN WORLD
- Let’s translate this biblical picture of work to the modern world of business and investing.
- We need to see the world of business and investing today in light of this biblical vision of work. The Genesis instructions to develop the beauty and goodness of creation are the same for humanity today. This is still God’s design and desire for our work in business and investing.
- And so we must ask ourselves, how can the specific work of business and investing contribute the beauty and goodness of creation?
- Business is called to create products that are good. You know, we have this language for the products of business, we call them “goods” and “services.” And this is no accident. The products of business, in God’s design, are intended to be genuinely “good.” And the products of business, in God’s design, are intended to be a genuine “service” of humankind. Humanity through business is to create goods that are truly good and services that truly serve.
- BEAUTY IN INVESTING
- Investors are called to supply the capital that enables the work of good businesses. Investors are to supply the capital to enable and enlarge the work of business to create those goods and services.
- When we are contemplating our investing, we need to be asking, are the businesses that I will be investing in through this investment, are they businesses making products that are good? Are they providing a service that is truly a service? Are they making things that enhance the world? These are things we should embrace.
- And, understanding that we live in a fallen world, where this is now a marbled mix of good and evil and a marbled mix of beauty and ugliness, we must ask, are any of these companies that I would own through this investment destroying the beauty and goodness of the world? Are they diminishing and desecrating God’s world? These are things we should avoid.
- That’s a lot of responsibility. But the good news is that the faith-based investing movement continues to grow.
- There is a whole industry of Christian faith-based investments that’s been raised up to make it easier for us to seek a biblical vision of work in business and investing today.
- These investments are mutual funds and ETFs just like common investments, but with specific Christian ethical criteria used for the selection of companies in the investments.
- For example, some are seeking to avoid companies whose products run counter to this biblical vision. Other investors are seeking to avoid the bad while also targeting the good— looking for companies whose products meet human needs and enhance the world.
- Eventide has put together two resources for Faith and Finance listeners. The first is an article on beauty and investing as discussed. The second is a list of the faith-based investments that are out there. Find those at faithandinvesting.com/faithfi.
On this program, Rob also answers listener questions:
- Is it best to use a lump sum of cash to pay off student loans or simply make double payments over time?
- What can you do if you're having a hard time getting receipts for your gifts to a nonprofit organization?
Remember, you can call in to ask your questions most days at (800) 525-7000. Also, visit our website at FaithFi.com where you can join the FaithFi Community, and give as we expand our outreach.