We live in a world that is full of risk. Risk is an interesting word. What does the word bring to mind? Does risk sound positive or negative when we hear it? Merriam-Webster defines risk as: 1. possibility of loss or injury. 2. Someone or something that presents a risk. A bad risk. That doesn’t sound too positive to me. It makes it sound like risk is not a good thing to engage in.
When it comes to investments, risk is always at play. For the conservative investor, they will want to minimize risk to their money. For the more aggressive investor, they are willing to stand more risk to their money, in hopes of a larger payoff. The higher the risk, the better potential for monetary gain.
One of the common streams of thought in investing says the younger a person is, the more risk they can stand. If a risky investment turns out sour, there is ample time for a younger person to recover from the setback. The potential rewards at a younger age seem to indicate the risk may be worth it in the long run. The older we get, we may become more risk averse. We don’t have the wherewithal to recover should a risky investment not pay off.
At what stage are we when it comes to risk? Now, we’ve been talking about financial risks, but there are other areas we engage in life where risk is present. When it comes to how we treat each other, isn’t there risk involved? If you think about our emotions and psyche, we have the potential to make some risky investments in others around us.
People who we are close to ask us to trust them, to believe in them, to go the distance with them. Its risky what they ask of us. Sometimes the risk is minimal because we have a track record with these persons. They have never let us down, they have always been true to their word. The risk with these persons is much less and we feel comfortable giving our trust, belief, even heart to these persons. For others, we may not know them as well, think of beginning relationships. We are invested in a person because they have captured our heart and we want to give our trust. The risk is higher in this circumstance, there is very little evidence early on of the person being honest and trustworthy. The same is true in exchanges with non-romantic relationships. We tend to risk more when we know a person, and less when there isn’t a proven record of them keeping their word.
How does risk apply in our spiritual life? Do we risk trusting God with our heart, our mind, our total selves? We want to believe God will always be in our corner, always be doing what’s right on our behalf. We do have a track record with God. We can trace back all the times God has been trustworthy in the past. We can see all the times God has brought us through one circumstance after another. We can track the ups and downs of our lives, and still see we have made it through to the point where we currently are.
Is trusting God with what we have a risky venture? Is the risk worth the investment? Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When it comes to us trusting God enough to give freely for God’s purposes, is it a risk? Of course it is. We work hard for our money. We have lots of places we can use our money. Giving to God is one of those places, but its a risk. Is it a risk worth taking? Each of us individually have to make that assessment.
When it comes to risking ourselves in giving of our time, our attention, our encouragement, our energies, do we risk doing so with those in need? Of course its a risk. We are called though to risk ourselves for the sake of God who lives in those around us. In John 15:13 Jesus tells us, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for another.” Sounds a lot like risk to me. When we give ourselves to help others, its going to be a risk. We don’t know how our efforts will turn out. And yet we are called by God to love one another, to give to one another, to risk for one another.
You and I can live our lives in a risk averse mode, but is that really how God wants us to be? Or, is God calling us to take risks, huge risks? Risk our love for those we fall in love with. Risk our love of our money by investing it in the purposes of God. Risk our love of those in need by giving of ourselves.
Life is a risk, no doubt about it. The payoff though, just might be worth the risk. One life changed because we were willing to risk. Is it worth it? Is it where God is leading us?
I’m going to tell you, I am not much of a gambler. I’m pretty risk averse. I do my best to judiciously watch over my investments. The longer I live, the more I’m convinced I need to be more and more willing to risk all I have. God has blessed my life with people who have loved and believed in me. Its my turn to risk more, to give more, to invest more of who I am for others. After all, there’s nothing I possess which can go with me when I return home to live with God. Therefore, its time for me to risk it, to give it, to live it.
May God well up in each of us a risky nature when it comes to building God’s kingdom here on earth.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,