What Is Wealth?

Years ago, a man in South Africa sold his farm in order to spend his time and energy in search of diamonds – for he was consumed with the pursuit of wealth.  In due time, health and resources exhausted, he realized he was no closer to his elusive fortune than the day he had first begun his quest.  Soon thereafter, he died.  One day, the man who had purchased his property discovered a most unique-appearing stone in the creek bed.  He took it and situated it prominently inside his home as a conversation piece.  Not long thereafter, a visitor examining the stone with great interest explained it actually appeared to be a diamond.  On his recommendation, the farmer discreetly obtained an assessment.  To his amazement, it turned out to be one of the largest diamonds ever found!  He immediately gathered all other objects of similar appearance in his creek, and lo and behold, they all turned out to be diamonds!  The farm which the diamond-seeker had sold turned out to be one of the richest diamond deposits in the world!

What a vivid portrait we discover here of the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve – in torrid pursuit of that which is all around them, but unable to obtain it!  Mankind seeks meaning and coherence in this world, but cannot see it – let alone acquire it – for his pursuit is along all the wrong avenues.  How many have spent their entire lives chasing happiness through wealth and affluence – only to discover at their final end, a bitter emptiness of soul and the gnawing void of disappointment?  In 1899, John Muir participated in an Alaskan scientific exploration sponsored by the incredibly wealthy railroad executive, E. H. Merriman.  When a fellow traveler spoke to Muir effusively regarding Merriman’s wealth, he replied, “I am richer than Merriman.”  Following an awkward pause, he continued, “I have all the money I want.  Merriman does not.”

And so it is with a great number of people in this world whose lives are filled with the fury of pursuit.  They may, indeed, possess considerable wealth, as this world knows it.  But, alas, they enjoy precious little of the abiding peace and tranquility of soul ever so close, but eternally distant, from them.  Jesus told His disciples on one occasion, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (St. Luke 12:15).  True wealth is not found in materialism.  Far from it!  The richest people on this earth are surely those whose hearts are full of love for others, whose minds are occupied with worthy ideals, whose memories are enriched by thoughtful and gracious deeds.  The most affluent among us are those who know the Creator and who quietly and reverently drink deeply from His unending wellspring of spiritual life as described in the Holy Scriptures!  The “wealthiest” in life are often the “poorest” in the eyes of this world!  How wealthy are you?


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