The Spiritual Principle of Compound Interest


We often tend to think about compound interest in the context of money and savings accounts, but as C.S. Lewis points out in “Mere Christianity“, there is also a spiritual context for this principle.

“The difference between a Christian and a worldly man is not that the worldly man has only affections or ‘likings’ and the Christian has only ‘charity’, [but that] the worldly man treats certain people kindly because he ‘likes’ them: the Christian, trying to treat every one kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on—including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning.”

The word “charity”, used by Lewis, is one of three theological virtues found in scripture (faith and hope being the other two), and is defined as “a supernatural virtue that helps us love God and our neighbors, more than ourselves.”, or as the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines as, “the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.”

This principle applies to good and evil alike.  Whereas charity is compounded for good, cruelty can be compounded for evil.  Lewis uses the German treatment of the Jews to demonstrate this point.

The Germans, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them: afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them. The more cruel you are, the more you will hate; and the more you hate, the more cruel you will become…

Sadly, we are seeing this principle played out today in real-time as a nation. Hatred is being compounded daily toward those who don’t look like us, those who don’t believe like us, and those who don’t act like us.

Even more disturbing, is the reality that there are Christians, who should be practicing charity, but are instead falling prey to hard-heartedness, callousness, antipathy, and enmity by throwing their lot into the wrong investment strategy.

To those seeking the right investment strategy,  listen to these words of warning and encouragement given by the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the early Christian communities in Galatia:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

In the spiritual markets of good and evil, good will always yield a better return on your investment, and you can take that to the bank!