A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Luke 12:15
About this time of the year, scores of people are pondering how far they go in “rendering to Caesar, the things which are Caesar’s,” as they struggle with paying their taxes. One humble pastor didn’t have much of a struggle with his conscience. He listed all of his income, but it was such a paltry sum that Caesar’s assistants were sure he had falsified his tax return. Sure enough, they sent for him to review his income tax return. The tax examiner began by saying, “Now, first, we would like you to make a list of your property.” The pastor responded, “Actually, I am a very wealthy man.”
The pastor took a pencil and started his list. The first item he wrote down was eternal life, and beside this he jotted down John 3:16. Then he wrote, “2) I have a mansion in heaven. 3) I have peace which passes understanding. 4) A changed heart. 5) Joy unspeakable. 6) A faithful wife. 7) Healthy, normal children. 8) Possess many loyal friends. 9) Songs in the night. 10) A crown of life. And lasta God who promises to meet all my needs according to His riches by Christ Jesus.”
The auditor took one look at the list, smiled, and said, “It’s true, you are a very rich man, but your property isn’t subject to taxation.”
Strange isn’t it, how one person looks at his possessions and pronounces himself to be poor, when a choice few, like the pastor I just described, recognize that you can’t always put a price tag on wealth. Scores of us are like the man Sidney Correll tells about. Correll was travelling on a train from Calcutta to MogulSarai when the man next to him asked, “Sahab, how many wives do you have?” “Just one,” replied Correll. The man replied, “I think you could have at least three or four wives for you are rich.” Correll hadn’t thought of himself as being rich.
As a missionary he was struggling to make ends meet. He had just borrowed money to buy his thirdclass ticket on an overcrowded train. He considered himself to be rather poor and he replied, “Oh, no. I am not rich. I am poor.” “No, Sahib,” replied the Indian, “look at your feet.” Correll looked at his feet, wondering how his feet were so much different, as the stranger replied, “Only the rich have shoes.” He then realized that to the Indian who had no shoes, a pair of shoes made him rich.
Take a look at your shoe closet. How rich would you say you are? Are riches relative? Are they simply measured in shoes, or stocks, or investments, or whatever?
Do you ever take time to really evaluate your wealth–I mean in terms of what really counts in life? What price do you put on your health? On the mate you have? How do you value friendship? Or the assurance in your heart that you are right with God and with your fellowmen? One woman assessed what God had done as she evaluated her income from the previous year and sighed, “We are rich already, and someday we may have some money.”
Jesus brought the whole issue into focus as He said, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Sometimes we are so mesmerized with the tinsel and glitter of fool’s gold that we fail to recognize the nuggets which we really have. The songwriter admonishes, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
Resource reading: 1 Samuel 20.