John Mark Comer recognized that millennia ago, teachers of the Way of Jesus identified three enemies of the soul: the devil, the flesh, and the world. Centuries later, these enemies are alive and well. John Mark invites you to discover what they look like in our sophisticated secular culture and develop a strategic plan to overcome their subtle deceptions. It’s a grace to welcome John Mark to the farm’s front porch today…
Have you ever sat down with a financial adviser to plan out your long-term financial goals and retirement?
I have this vivid memory from my early twenties when I landed my first-ever salaried job. What a great feeling! It wasn’t much, but we had enough each month to pay the bills and a little left over.
One of the elders at our church worked as an investment banker, and he was kind enough to sit down with T and me and offer us free financial planning. It was all pretty basic—spend less than you make, invest in a Roth IRA for retirement, and so on.
But the part I still remember the most was when he explained compound interest to me. My eyes bulged, not when he explained the theory of it, but when he calculated my finances over the next forty-five years and turned it into a graph.
The balance rises slowly over time. Assuming you don’t start investing until post college or your early twenties, there’s not much to get excited about up through your thirties. In your forties, okay, looking better.
“This is the miracle of compound interest, which—and here’s my point—is not only a financial reality but also a life-as-a-whole reality.”
Then in your fifties, the miracle of compound interest kicks in and, boom, all those monies you’ve been patiently stashing away begin to multiply at an exponential rate.
And I remember our elder/adviser (thanks again, Steve) giving me the absolute best piece of advice. He said, “It’s less about how much you invest each month and more about how early you start.”
The stats are crazy. Let’s say you invest 5k a year starting from the age of eighteen and then you stop after ten years (a total investment of 50k). You will still have more money at retirement than if you were to invest 5k a year starting from the age of twenty-eight and not stopping until retirement (a total investment of 200k). With a little care and discipline, even those who live paycheck to paycheck can accumulate modest wealth over a lifetime.
“God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
This is the miracle of compound interest, which—and here’s my point—is not only a financial reality but also a life-as-a-whole reality.
The theologian Cornelius Plantinga said this about Paul’s words to the Galatians:
No matter what we sow, the law of returns applies.
Good or evil, love or hate, justice or tyranny, grapes or thorns, a gracious compliment or a peevish complaint—whatever we invest, we tend to get it back with interest. Lovers are loved; haters, hated. Forgivers usually get forgiven; those who live by the sword die by the sword. “God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.”
“Every time you sow to the Spirit and invest the resources of your mind and body into nurturing your inner man or woman’s connection to the Spirit of God, you plant something deep in the humus of your central fulcrum, which, over time, takes root and bears the fruit of a Christlike character.“
This is just how things are in the universe. “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” isn’t a command but a statement about reality. Trying to cheat the law of returns is like trying to get around the law of gravity. Good luck with that.
And Paul applied the law of returns not to a retirement nest egg for people with privilege but to our spiritual formation.
By way of reminder, spiritual formation is the process by which we are formed into a certain kind of person, good or evil.
Every time we sow to the flesh—or put another way, every time we give in to our flesh’s desire to sin—we plant something in the soil of our hearts, which then begins to take root, grow, and, eventually, yield the harvest of a deformed nature.
Thankfully, the same is true of the Spirit.
Every time you sow to the Spirit and invest the resources of your mind and body into nurturing your inner man or woman’s connection to the Spirit of God, you plant something deep in the humus of your central fulcrum, which, over time, takes root and bears the fruit of a Christlike character.
John Mark Comer is the founding pastor of Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon, a teacher and writer with Practicing the Way, and the bestselling author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry plus four previous books.
John Mark’s new book, Live No Lies: Recognize and Resist the Three Enemies That Sabotage Your Peace, combines cultural analysis with spiritual formation. He identifies the role lies play in our spiritual deformation and lays out a strategic plan to overcome them. All around us in the culture and deep within our own body memories are lies: deceptive ideas that wreak havoc on our emotional health and spiritual well-being, and deceptive ideas about who God is, who we are, and what the good life truly is.
[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]