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The Parable of the Two Investors

There were once two investors. One was wise, another was foolish.

One day, the stock market plummeted. For the next few weeks, prices were in free fall. Many were panicking. What if this was another Great Depression?

Early on in this crisis, each investor met with his financial advisor. Each received the same advice:

“Things look bad right now. Stocks are falling, and we don’t know when prices will stabilize. But don’t let fear get the best of you. The markets cycle. Prices will rise again. Hold onto what you have, and you’ll be OK.”

After the foolish investor heard this advice, he was calm for a day or two. But another week passed and the market was still falling fast. He was losing so much money, he couldn’t stand it any longer! The foolish investor sold his shares at a much reduced value and placed the money into a savings account.

The wise investor had a different reaction. He kept the stocks he already owned, but he didn’t stop there. He also immediately withdrew his savings and bought more stocks.

As the prices continued to fall, the wise investor continued to pour money into the market. The lower the prices fell, the more he invested. He risked everything. He even sold his house and his car so that he could buy more shares.

The stock market collapse was very severe. It was several years before the markets began to recover. During these terrible years, the wise investor had hardly anything to live on. It was hard times for everyone.

Finally, the words of the financial advisor did come true. The market began to inch back upwards. Within a few years it was stronger than ever. Unfortunately, the foolish investor didn’t gain from the rising stock market. All his money was still in the bank. He bought high and sold low. He risked little. He was left with little.

The wise investor saw a very different outcome. His investments did more than rebound. All the cheap stocks he bought during the crash multiplied several times. By the time the economy was strong again, he had become a rich man.

The kingdom of God is something like this.

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  • But remember, Jesus held up the one who buried his money as the wise one and turned things upside down. Here is more on the parable of the talents from the other side:

    • Lots of discussion about that other parable to be had. But this one is distinct.

      • Can you say more about why you see it as distinct? To me it reads as a fairly straightforward modernization of the parable of the talents that replaces the financial system of Jesus’ time with the financial system of today.

        Jesus was offering a critique of the financial system itself through the parable. I’m unclear if you are doing the same.

        • I won’t comment on the other story, because a correct interpretation of it is not at all clear to me. However, this parable does not include a tyrannical ruler.

          Both of these investors is empowered to make their own life decisions. They’ve both opted into the system, by investing. One chooses to invest extravagantly and reject fear. The other lets fear win out.

          This parable is much more like the Pearl of Great Price or the Treasure Hidden in a Field than it is like the other parable you reference.

          • Val Liveoak

            That’s good to hear, because as your parable is written, there’s no apparent criticism of the way the stock market rises when (usually) things get worse for the workers who produce the wealth, or even for the country when a government like our current one is in charge. I do think Jesus argued about the way profit was generated in his day, and how the rich get richer at the cost of the poor then and now.

          • He definitely did. Jesus and the early church also frequently used metaphors based in the unjust economic & political system to illustrate the kingdom of God.