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What $248 Million Can’t Do

Advice about money varies. Oscar Wilde said, "When I was young, I thought that money was the most important thing in life. Now that I am old, I know that it is." But Henry Youngman reminded us we ought not to place too much trust in money when he said, "Americans are getting stronger. Twenty years ago it took two people to carry ten dollars' worth of groceries. Today, a five year-old can do it." We've heard a thousand times, "Money can't buy happiness." But Max Kaufman reminds us "among the things money can't buy is what it used to." Garth Brooks, no stranger to fame and fortune, said, "You aren't wealthy until you have something money can't buy." That advice echoes words from the famously rich John D. Rockefeller who said, "The poorest man I know is the man who has nothing but money." Some of the most compelling financial advice to be found anywhere is given by ancient King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 6:1-3. Here this very rich, powerful, famous man sends out advice about riches, power and fame many people don't want to hear and aren't going to accept — "There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction. If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he." We don't have space to study these verses. But Solomon warns our souls may be skinny even though our wallets are fat. Unlike Oscar Wilde, Solomon learned somewhere along the way that money is not the most important thing in life.

How much money would it take to make you happy? Would $248 million do it? That's how much professional boxer Evander Holyfield, three-time heavyweight champion of the world, earned over his boxing career. Ten years ago Holyfield built a 54,000 square–foot (almost one and a fourth acres), 119 room mansion (including 17 bathrooms, 3 kitchens, and a bowling alley) which sits on 232 acres south of Atlanta, Georgia. The estate is valued at $20 million. Did I mention reports that Holyfield defaulted on a $10 million loan this summer? And that he has been sued by one of his three ex-wives of failing to pay child support for one of his eleven children? I don't mean to slander Evander. My question is, exactly what will $248 million buy? A big house for sure. But Holyfield reminds us even that much money can't buy happiness. Solomon declared long ago riches don't satisfy the soul. Luke 18:23 tells about a very rich young man was also very sad. The source of his unhappiness — he had everything but Jesus and the hope of eternal life. Will we ever learn? No amount of money can buy happiness or save the soul. Jesus asked what profit would it be if we gain the whole world and lose our souls (Matthew 16:26). The question is not how much money do you have. The question is how much does money have you.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ