Anthony Perosi is a plumber in New York City. He bought a lottery ticket last March 14, and pinned it to the wall behind a pipe in his basement. A friend told him that a school teacher won the day's lottery, so he didn't bother to check his numbers. A month later, he finally did and discovered that he won. Yesterday, he collected his payment. Perosi plans to continue working as a plumber, but says he "will be able to relax a little more and not have any worries financially." Maybe, maybe not.
Jeffrey Dampier won a $20 million lottery jackpot in Florida. His sister-in-law and her boyfriend kidnapped and murdered him in a plot to steal his money. William Post III won $16.2 million in the lottery. His brother tried to hire a hit man to have him killed. He eventually liquidated his assets and served time in prison for assaulting a debt collector. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 70 percent of Americans who experience a sudden windfall lose the money within a few years.
Materialism is not the remedy it claims to be, for two reasons.(Tweet this)
One: possessions can divert us from the Creator to his creation. Isaiah said of his people, "Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots" (Isaiah 2:7).
Then he described the result of their materialism: "Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made" (v. 8). With this outcome: "The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day" (v. 11).
Two: the material is never enough. King Solomon, one of the wealthiest men in history, testified: "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income" (Ecclesiastes 5:10).
Henri Nouwen has long been a spiritual mentor for me. Consider this statement from Life of the Beloved: "Aren't you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don't you often hope: 'May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.' But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death."
Patricia Aburdene, author of Megatrends 2010, noted: "Greed destroys wealth. Trust and integrity, by contrast, foster prosperity." Evangelist Billy Sunday was right: "The fellow that has no money is poor. The fellow that has nothing but money is poorer still." Socrates observed, "If a man is proud of his wealth, he should not be praised until it is known how he employs it."
How are you employing yours?
Publication date: June 5, 2015
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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