Has something ever grabbed your attention, so much that you can’t get it off your mind? That happened to me recently when I saw a commercial for a cosmetic surgery clinic. A woman in the commercial was trying to pursuade people to become customers and made this statement: “there is no better investment that you can make than investing in yourself.” I heard that statement and wondered how many people actually buy that line? How many times have I bought that line? That phrase began to eat at me and I had to find out why. After all, this company wouldn’t choose this as their hook if we weren’t likely to take the bait. After considering this statement I realized that we all have felt entitled to invest in ourselves. We want to feel good about the way we look so we can be confident out in this world. We work hard and deserve to pamper ourselves. Don’t we?
As I pondered, I thought about what I know to be true of God’s word. I know that God calls us to love him above everything else and to love others as much as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). I also know the Old Testament is full of stories telling us of times when people displayed this woman’s attitude of investing in ourselves. Adam and Eve, the Israelites, and even King David all demonstrated putting their needs, wants, and desires above their love for and faith in God at one time or another. In each case, this selfishness had consequences.
What bothered me about that commercial and the statement made had nothing to do with cosmetic surgery. I believe God was calling my attention to the attitude behind the statement. It is a common theme in our society, something perpetuated by the media we are inundated with in our homes, our cars, on our phones, and just about everywhere. The attitude is one of putting ourselves above others, and even worse, above God. It’s so easy for me to become convinced I need and deserve certain things. God lovingly and generously provided for all the Biblical characters I mentioned, and somewhere along the way they forgot who brought them to where they were. As they began to feel entitled, they used the resources God provided in ways He never intended, to serve their own purposes, rather than his. I’m afraid sometimes I do the same thing. Do you?
Fortunately, God is … well … God. He is merciful and loving and chose to make an amazing investment in his people. He gave us his most prized possession, his one and only son, to die in our place. He sacrificed Jesus for people who often refuse to give back even a portion of the very resources he provides. God invested in us so we don’t have to suffer the punishment we deserve, knowing full well we are a risky investment, as we are prone to stray. His generosity didn’t stop there. Once Jesus left this earth, God also gave us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and be with us at all times. God continues to pour out blessings to us today by giving each of us unique spiritual gifts. The most amazing part about God’s investment in us is he requires nothing in return except that we believe in him, but he does offer us the opportunity to use our God-given gifts to be part of his incredible story.
This world tells us if you don’t look out for yourself, no one will. God says he has always and will always go before us (Exodus 13:20-22).
This world tells us we deserve good things and should go out and get them. God says we deserve eternal punishment but instead he has given us eternal life as a free gift we can never earn no matter what we do (Romans 3:19-26).
This world tells us that our greatest investment is the one we make in ourselves. God tells us he’s already invested in us and he invites us to provide return on that investment (Romans 8:28-30). If we use what he has given us for his glory, our reward will be so much greater than a temporary beauty treatment that will fade before our eyes. God has invested in me even though I’ve ignored him, provided for me and lifted me up even when I wasn’t sure he was there, and always loved me unconditionally. I think a loving God who created me for his purpose wants me to invest in the gifts he has given me and to care for myself, so I am better prepared to serve him. He doesn’t want me to use my gifts to further my own selfish ambitions for the sake of temporary, earthly satisfaction. When God provided me the opportunity to lead Bible study, it wasn’t so I could feel accomplished or be praised. Oh how tempting it is to let praise, relationships, money, fame, or power take God’s place as our motivation to keep investing! If we are investing in ourselves (or anything else) for any reason other than to know him, love him, and serve him, we may want to reconsider.
Perhaps we should invest in ourselves, but not because it’s the best investment we can make. Invest in you to become more of what he created you to be. Invest in you to have more to give others, so others see more of Jesus in you. Invest to give God the best return on the investment he already made in you.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gait.” Proverbs 31:30-31