Riches within Your Reach
WHO would not like to be rich? There are many professional counselors who would persuade you that if you will listen to them, heed their advice, you could become rich, materially rich. But the facts belie their claims. There are just too many uncertainties—health, education, environment, natural temperament or endowments and unforeseen circumstances—for them to assure every one that heeds their advice that he, too, can become rich.
Because of the obstacles to be overcome by those in pursuit of material riches (and the pursuit of such riches is indeed an obstacle course!), the results have often been very harmful to those striving to be rich. Thus, the apostle Paul warns against being “determined to be rich.” And wise King Solomon wrote: “He that is hastening to gain riches will not remain innocent.”—1 Tim. 6:9; Prov. 28:20.
How true that is! Have you not seen it proved? Those determined to get rich, or who are in a hurry to amass wealth, seldom are concerned with remaining innocent, and they often come to grief. Thus, for the sake of profits, many businessmen will misrepresent their products or services, obliging the government to call them to account and impose large fines on them. Politicians accept bribes in their haste to get rich. Other persons practice shoplifting or other forms of stealing, even robbing banks—which crime is becoming ever more prevalent—so as to get rich in a hurry. According to one of America’s leading financial writers “the magnitude of business crime in the U.S. today staggers the imagination . . . an estimated $125 billion a year.” Back in July 1976 a group of criminals dug a tunnel to a Paris bank vault and got away with loot worth over $7,000,000 (U.S.), an all-time high. Did that loot bring them happiness? No, it brought long prison terms to a number of them.
In fact, even when material riches are acquired by honest means, seldom do they make their possessors happy. With riches often come loss of real friends and fear of being robbed or kidnapped. Nor do satisfaction, contentment and happiness depend on material riches. And certainly riches will not preserve a person’s life, as Jesus declared: “Even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15) So, truly, the eager pursuit of riches has little to recommend it. Either the pursuit of them proves futile or their possession proves to be vanity, as King Solomon so well noted on his amassing great wealth.—Eccl. 2:4-11.
There are, however, riches that are within the reach of all. Among such are true knowledge and wisdom. These can be obtained by a sincere and enlightened study of God’s Word. This takes time and effort, but the results are worth it. Becoming acquainted with your Creator, learning what his rules of conduct are and applying them in your life will make you truly rich, even as God’s Word shows, in saying: “Having it [wisdom] as gain is better than having silver as gain and having it as produce than gold itself.” Why? Because “length of days is in its right hand” and “its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its roadways are peace. It is a tree of life to those taking hold of it, and those keeping fast hold of it are to be called happy.”—Prov. 3:13-18.
There is yet another form of riches that is available to you and that is within your reach. That is the riches of doing fine works, unselfish deeds. Persons rich in material things are ordered, at 1 Timothy 6:18, to “work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be liberal, ready to share.” Jesus Christ expressed a similar thought when, in his Sermon on the Mount, he recommended laying up treasures in heaven and spoke of one’s being rewarded by one’s heavenly Father for doing good to others. (Matt. 6:3, 4, 20) By such acts of kindness or mercy a person becomes rich in contentment and in expressions of appreciation on the part of others.
For example: There is a certain Christian woman, who, though regularly working 40 hours a week, finds time to sew all kinds of useful things for elderly persons and other deserving individuals. Not content with that, she has taken the time to record the entire Bible on cassette tapes, which she lends to an elderly blind fellow Christian for her enjoyment. She also preaches the good news of God’s kingdom from house to house and conducts Bible studies with interested persons. Does she find contentment, satisfaction and happiness in doing these things? She most certainly does. This woman is also rich in expressions of appreciation received from those for whom she does these things.
Then again there was an elderly couple who unexpectedly received quite a sum of money. It was not enough to make them affluent, but they used some of it in a way that made them feel rich. How was that? They generously shared this unexpected blessing with certain needy and deserving acquaintances. The very fact that they were able to do this to such an extent made them feel rich. And, of course, they were rich in fine works and therefore rich in laying up treasures in heaven.
All of this is related to the way the Creator made us. He endowed us with his four principal attributes of wisdom, justice, power and love. He also gave us a conscience. That conscience not only serves to warn us against doing wrong, and pronounces us guilty if we transgress, but also gives us a sense of well-being when we do the unselfish, the generous, the merciful, the loving thing. This is in keeping with the principle stated by Jesus Christ, the Son of God: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) Also, it is in harmony with what King Solomon said about 1,000 years earlier: “The generous man will be enriched; And he who waters will himself be watered.” (Prov. 11:25, The Bible, An American Translation) The apostle Paul expressed a similar thought when he wrote: “He that sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Cor. 9:6) He did not mean, primarily or necessarily, that the one who gives material things may reap like material things. Rather, the apostle meant that he who gives generously to needy ones will reap spiritual riches, favor with God, happiness and contentment. Truly, such riches are within your reach.