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Who Is the Richest Man?

Lee Segall said, "It's possible to own too much. A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never quite sure." Most of us are ready to agree that it is possible to own too much. What we are not ready to agree on is how much is too much. It's a safe bet that for most of us, too much is more than we currently own. As Mark Twain once said, "I am opposed to millionaires . . . .but it would be dangerous to offer me the position." Does money make one rich? King Solomon had a supersized pile of it. He admitted, "I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces" (Ecclesiastes 2:8). Nobody knows for certain how much silver and gold he gathered. But 1 Kings 10:14 records "the weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was 666 talents of gold" — an annual income of gold exceeding 26 and a half tons! As for silver, 1 Kings 10:21 and 27 tell us that silver "was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon.. .The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones." Solomon had lots of money, but was he really rich? In terms of money and what it can buy — yes. But in terms of the bigger picture of his soul and satisfaction and God and eternity and things money cannot buy — no. In his own words in Ecclesiastes 2:17-18, it all turned out to be "vanity and grasping for the wind. . . because I must leave it to the man who will come after me." Solomon, though rich in money, was poor in contentment and peace of mind. Hebrews 13:5 reminds us we are all rich when we learn to want what we have, especially God — "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"
An old story challenges our concept of who is richest. A rich landowner named Carl rode around his vast estate to congratulate himself on his great wealth. One day while out on his horse he saw Hans, an old tenant farmer, sitting under a tree. Hans said, "I was just thanking God for my food." Carl protested, "If that's all I had, I wouldn't feel like giving thanks." Hans said, "God has given me everything I need and I am thankful for it." The old farmer went on, "It is strange you came by today, for I had a dream last night. In the dream a voice said, 'The richest man in the valley will die tonight.' I don't know what it means, but thought I ought to tell you." Carl snorted, "Nonsense," and galloped away. But he could not forget Hans' words: "The richest man in the valley will die tonight." Thinking himself the richest man around, he invited his doctor to his home that evening and told what Hans had said. After a thorough examination, the doctor told the wealthy landowner, "Carl, you are as healthy and strong as a horse. There is no way you will die tonight." Nevertheless, for assurance, the doctor stayed with Carl and they played cards through the night. As the doctor left in the morning, Carl apologized for becoming so upset over the old man's dream. About nine o'clock a messenger arrived at Carl's door. "What is it?" Carl demanded. The messenger explained, "It's old Hans. He died last night in his sleep." Think about it —since money can't buy a night's lodging in Heaven or sip of water in hell, who is really the richest man?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ