Summary: Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
In 1934 America was in a depression that many of you lived through first hand. The stock market had crashed in 1929 and millions of workers were jobless. Creativity took over as industrious citizens tried to find ways to feed themselves and their families.
There was a rather creative fellow from a small city in Pennsylvania named Charles Darrow. Not a household name, but we’ve all heard of his work. He took a board game to the executives at Parker Brothers, a company almost driven out of business because of the Great Depression. Darrow worked hard and was most proud of what he had accomplished, but Parker Brothers rejected it because of 52 design errors.
Unwilling to give up, Charles Darrow, with the help of a printer friend, produced 5,000 handmade sets and sold them to a Philadelphia department store, where it became an overnight sensation. In 1935, Parker Brothers came to its senses and began producing the game. Since then, an estimated 500 million people around the world have played this most famous of board games.
How fitting that a game about living the high life as a successful financier was introduced at a time when the country was trying to rebound from its worst ever economic depression. Even with their very real financial struggles, people somehow found the two dollars to get in on the newest craze.
Parker Brothers went into around the clock production and sold 20,000 games per week. People probably thought, “If I can’t have money and property in real life, at least I can pretend by playing Monopoly.”
More than 200 million games have been sold
More than five billion little green houses have been produced
A game with solid gold houses and pure silver hotels once sold for $25,000
The longest game in history lasted 70 days
The total amount of Monopoly money in a set is $15,140
So how much does it take to satisfy our heart’s desire? I have just received David Jeremiah’s new book called “Signs of Life.” In it he writes that back in 1987, a poll was taken by the Chicago Tribune. It revealed that people who earned less than $30,000 a year said that $50,000 would make them happy. However, people who earned $100,000 a year said they would need $250,000 to be completely satisfied. Psychologists call this the “escalation of expectations.” If people work to attain a certain level of prosperity, thinking they will be happy when they reach it, they quickly become accustomed to their prosperity, grow discontent, and start striving for the next level.
Church growth and mission experts have found this same phenomenon occurring. Within three generations of the acceptance of the Gospel by a primitive culture, which resulted in increased wealth and higher standards of living, people start losing interest in the very spiritual truths that pulled them out of poverty. A little bit of money creates a longing for more. And that’s true even for those with a lot of money. At a time when John D. Rockefeller was the world’s richest man, he was asked, “How much is enough?” His reply….”Just a little bit more.”
So how much is enough? In John Ortberg’s new book entitled “When The Game Is Over It All Goes Back In The Box” he writes about a man whose name became synonymous with the hunger for more. He wanted more wealth, so he built one of the greatest financial empires of his day. He wanted more pleasure, so he seduced or paid for the most glamorous women money could buy. He wanted more adventure, so he set airspeed records and designed, built and piloted the world’s most unique aircraft. He wanted more power, so he acquired political clout that was the envy of Senators. He wanted more glamour, so he crashed Hollywood, owned studios, courted stars.
And sadly, here’s how this man’s life ended. He was a figure of gothic horror, ready for the grave. He was emaciated, only 120 pounds on his six foot four frame. A thin scraggly beard reached midway onto his sunken chest. Many of his teeth were black, his fingernails too long and curved, and his arms were full of innumerable needle marks. Howard Hughes was an addict. A billionaire junkie. Here’s the question? If Howard Hughes had pulled off one more deal, made one more million, would it have been enough?
How much stuff do we need to make us happy? I read that there are now more than 30,000 self-storage facilities in the country offering over a billion square feet for people to store their stuff. In the 1960’s, this industry did not exist. We now spend $12 billion a year just to pay someone to store our extra stuff. It’s larger than the music industry.
In His Sermon on the plain to the people on the mount, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)