Summary: A study of the misconceptions of material riches.
I. His first mistake was being erroneously materialistic
A. Misconception of the measure of success.
1. The number one issue with most people when it comes to choosing a career is money. But compared to work that you’ll do well and enjoy doing, money is a rotten standard for making or evaluating career decisions.
2. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) - If a man has spent all his days about some business by which he has gotten much money, many houses and barns and wood lots, his life has been a failure.
3. Church at Laodicea - Revelation 3:17 "Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:"
4. By the standards of cultural success models, Jesus was a miserable failure.
5. Always wanting and never achieving - Of those earning less than $15,000 annually, percentage who say they have not achieved the American dream: 95 Percentage of those earning more than $50,000 annually: 94
B. Misconception of the gratification of material goods
1. Benjamin Franklin - Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of its filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfies one want, it doubles and triples that want another way.
2. Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 "He that loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loves abundance with increase: this is also vanity. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?" (Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings happiness. The more you have the more people come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth - except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers.)”
3. W. E. Sangster - America has more things than any other nation in the world, and more books on how to find happiness.
4. If there is one message that comes to us in ten thousand seductive voices, it’s the message of our country and our century that life does consist of things. You can see it on a hundred billboards as you drive down the highway. It is the message from the sponsor on television. It is sung to you in jingles on radio. It is blared at you in four-color ads in the newspapers. We’re like the donkey that has the carrot extended before it on a stick. The donkey sees the carrot and wants it, so the donkey moves toward it, but the carrot moves, too. The carrot is always there, promising to fill the appetite. But what it promises, it does not deliver.
5. When John D. Rockefeller was the richest man in the world, someone asked him how much money was enough. He replied, "Just a little bit more."
6. The Chicago Tribune (9/1/96) ran the story of Buddy Post, "living proof that money can’t buy happiness." In 1988, he won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania Lottery. Since then, he was convicted of assault, his sixth wife left him, his brother was convicted of trying to kill him, and his landlady successfully sued him for one-third of the jackpot. "Money didn’t change me," insists Post, a 58-year-old former carnival worker and cook. "It changed people around me that I knew, that I thought cared a little bit about me. But they only cared about the money.” Post is trying to auction off seventeen future payments, valued at nearly $5 million, in order to pay off taxes, legal fees, and a number of failed business ventures. He plans to spend his life as an ex-winner pursuing lawsuits he has filed against police, judges, and lawyers who he says conspired to take his money. "I’m just going to stay at home and mind my p’s and q’s," he said. "Money draws flies."
C. Misconception of permanency of material possessions
1. Jeff Ferrera of Waukegan, Illinois, was reconciling his checkbook and called First National Bank of Chicago to get his current balance. "Your primary checking account currently has a balance of $924,844,204.32," droned the electronic voice. Ferrera was one of 826 customers who were almost billionaires for a day because of the biggest error in the history of U.S. banking. The goof amounted to almost $764 billion, more than six times the total assets of First Chicago NBD Corporation. "I had a lot of people saying in jest to transfer it to the Cayman Islands and run for it," Ferrera said. But, like most of the others, he simply reported the error to bank officials, who could say only that it was a "computer programming error." We need to remember that all earthly wealth is just as temporal.