Vickie and I recently visited a manor house and gardens in a neighboring state. The gardens are spectacular and the house is architecturally and historically interesting. The docent provided a wonderful tour, relating the life of the man who purchased the house in the early 20th century and who established the gardens. (The owner is deceased and the house and grounds are now in a trust). The owner came from a wealthy family and never worked a day in his life – not a day. He lived a life of not denying himself anything. Some of the people he associated with, though very rich and very famous, were from all historical accounts hedonists. The docent didn’t comment on the hedonistic reputation of the group of friends and acquaintances and I didn’t raise the subject. It must have been one of my more polite days.
After we left the tour I said to Vickie, “All that money and there is nothing to indicate that he engaged in any philanthropy.”
The following morning as I thought about this man I asked myself: What about me? He had all that wealth and he apparently never used it for others, what wealth am I using for others? While I don’t have material wealth, I have the wealth of Jesus Christ, I have eternal life, I know the Good News of Jesus – am I sharing that wealth with others? Or when I die will someone say, “Well, he may have written about Jesus occasionally; and he may have even taught and preached on occasion, but did he share the wealth of Jesus Christ in the fabric of his life”?
And in terms of what I do have materially, am I sharing with those in need or do I just talk the talk? Do I show prejudice between social and economic classes? In my own social strata am I hedonistic and narcissistic? It is much worse to have spiritual wealth and not share it than it is to have material wealth and not share it – after all, the use of material wealth may feed a person for a day, but spiritual wealth can feed a person for eternity. Once again I stand convicted.