These People Made a Big Mistake. You Might Be Making A Bigger One.

Harry and Elizabeth Hanon

Harry and Elizabeth Hanon

Donald Keough lived with his wife and 5 kids in Omaha, right across the street from Warren Buffett. Mr. Buffett was just getting started in his career as an investor and hadn’t yet built Berkshire Hathaway into the financial empire it is today. All his neighbors knew was that Warren was this newly married who didn’t leave every morning for work.

Mr. Keough told the New York Magazine that one day Warren stopped by the house and asked him how he was going to educate his kids. “I told him I planned to work hard and see what happened,” said Mr. Keough. “Warren said that if I gave him $5000 he’d probably do better.”

“My wife and I talked it over, but we figured we didn’t know what this guy even did for a living, how could we give him $5,000? We’ve been kicking ourselves ever since. I mean, if we had given him the dough, we could have owned a college by now.” Oops.

Or consider Harry Hanon whose wife, Elizabeth, was Buffett’s assistant in the late 1960s. When Harry inherited approximately $30,000 from his parents, Buffett invited him to be a part of the investment partnership he was running. Harry declined. Undeterred, Buffet told Harry that he didn’t even have to front the money to buy in to the business but that he could pay it off over time. Harry still wasn’t interested. Oops.

Consider this fact from the New York Times: At the end of 2014, an investment of $100 in the 1965 Berkshire shares would be worth $1,826,163. That’s quite a rate of return. If Harry Hanon had invested $20,000 with Buffett in 1969 and never sold it, he’d have $75 million today. Instead he invested his money in an pyramid scheme and lost it all. Oops.

I’m sure that to Donald Keough and Harry Hanon investing their money with Warren Buffett looked risky and they were more sure about other opportunities available to them. But they were wrong and their mistake cost them millions and millions and millions of dollars.

I can’t help but think of a similar choice that every Christian faces: Who do we invest our life with? Do we go in with Jesus or is there another option that seems like a better bet?

Here’s what Jesus says: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29) I think that his point is that whatever we think that we are sacrificing here in the name of Christ (time, talent, treasure, etc…) isn’t really a sacrifice but an investment that he will more than pay off in eternity.

In Matthew 6 Jesus encourages us to think long term and lay up treasures in heaven and not on earth. He even goes on to warn us that while investing in this life may very well mean getting earthly treasures, those treasures don’t last because they are susceptible to moth, rust, and thieves. If nothing else, we can’t take earthly treasure with us.

One of the difficulties of investing our lives with Jesus is that the pay off isn’t immediate and it’s outside our control. Donald Keough told Buffett that instead of investing with him, he’d work hard and take his chances. He wanted to depend on himself and keep control instead of trusting another person. Harry Hanon wanted a quicker return on his investment but instead lost it all.

It’s one thing to lose $20,000 but it’s another thing to lose your life. We make a far bigger mistake than either of these guys did when we refuse to invest our life with Jesus. Living for ourselves, building our kingdom here, seeking earthly treasure at the expense heavenly treasure, promises a quick pay off but the reality is that earthly treasure is the ultimate pyramid scheme in that it over promises and under delivers. Always.

No one is ever going to lay on their death bed or stand before Jesus in heaven and regret investing their life in him. Jesus never fails. Don’t make the mistake of banking on someone else.

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