True wealth has more to do with sense than dollars

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Faith & Reflection

Have you wondered what it would be like to be incredibly wealthy? And if you were would it change you and how you live?

I’ve met many wealthy individuals who haven’t become lofty, lecherous or miserly, however, the Bible suggests that too much contemplation in this area isn’t healthy. It says, “…people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).

I read recently about a man so captivated by his wealth that he decided to take it with him. From his deathbed he instructed his wife to collect all of his wealth and bury it with him. She promised to comply and following his demise kept her promise. She consulted with her husband’s accountants and ascertaining the sum total of his assets, promptly wrote a cheque for that amount. She took it to the funeral home and instructed the funeral directors to place it in her husband’s hand before sealing his coffin.

Hetty Green (1834–1916), considered by Guinness World Records to be America’s greatest miser, left behind a fortune of (in today’s worth) 2.5 billion dollars. But she lived like a pauper. She ate her oatmeal cold to save the cost of heating it. Her son had to have his leg amputated. It could have been saved, but she spent so long looking for a free medical clinic that by the time he received treatment it was too late to save the limb. Allegedly Hetty died in the middle of a debate over which milk was best. She espoused that skim milk was superior because it was the cheapest.

I harbour no prejudice toward the rich or the poor and I don’t measure anyone’s worth by their wealth or lack thereof. When I consider true riches I think of things like faith and family and fellowship.

If there was a defining moment to this view it was when as a young pastor I returned home late one night to our modest apartment to find both my wife and our baby boy sleeping. I slipped into the nursery and watched him. I thought of how, as a Christian, I’m in God’s family (John 1:12). I was reminded that God has promised to meet all of our needs (Philippians 4;19). And I considered the future and Jesus’ promise of eternal life came to mind (John 3:36). As I continued to look at my son and contemplate my God, I thought to myself, “I’m a very rich man!” This was the moment that the foundation for my philosophy of wealth was established.

“To me…this grace was given…the unfathomable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).

— Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.

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