There are some things better than riches and gold

Published 5:36 am Monday, December 5, 2022

Many years ago, Aesop told this fable about a miser who never stopped worrying about the safety of his possessions, sold all his property and converted it into a huge lump of gold.
This he buried in a hole in the ground near his garden wall and every morning he went to visit it and gloat over the size of it.
The miser’s strange behavior aroused the curiosity of the town thief.
Spying on the rich man from some bushes, the thief saw him place the lump of gold back in the hole and cover it up.
As soon as the miser’s back was turned, the thief went to the spot, dug up the gold, and took it away.
The next morning when the miser went to gloat over his treasure, he found nothing but an empty hole.
He wept and tore his hair, and so loud were his lamentations that a neighbor came running to see what the trouble was.
As soon as he had learned the cause of it, he said comfortingly, “You are foolish to distress yourself over something that was buried in the earth. Take a stone and put it in the hole and think that it is your lump of gold. You were never going to use it anyway. Therefore, it will do you just as much good to fondle a lump of granite as a lump of gold.”
This story has a very significant moral for every person: “The true value of money is not in its possession but in its use.”
It seems that every year, around this time, many people get caught up in the shopping frenzy that accompanies the Christmas season.
The Friday after Thanksgiving is touted as the biggest shopping day of the year.
One might argue that most of that money is spent on buying gifts for others.
And certainly, there’s nothing wrong with giving to those we love… but let’s not forget that material things will rust, decay and have no eternal value.
Years ago, the British ship Britannia was wrecked off the coast of Brazil.
Stored in the hold were many kegs filled with Spanish gold coins. The crew, hoping to save them, started to carry the barrels on deck.
But the vessel was breaking up so fast that they had to abandon their efforts and rush for the lifeboats.
Just before the last one pushed off, a young midshipman was sent back to see if anyone had been left behind.
To his surprise, a man sat on the deck with a hatchet by his side.He had broken open a few kegs and was heaping the gold up around him.
“What are you doing?” shouted the sailor.
“Don’t you know this ship is going to pieces?”
“It may go down,” said the man, “but I’ve lived in poverty all my life, and I’m determined to die rich.”
The ship sank and the man was lost at sea.
How are you using the resources you have been given? Are you reaching out to help others in need or, like the miser and the sailor, are you heaping up treasures for yourself?
You see, the only things that will last forever are the things we do for God and for others.
So, as we give gifts to those we love this Christmas, let’s not forget to share the gift of God’s love with them as well.
John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever will believe on Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
And He is the real reason for the season!

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.

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