“I’m rich!” shouted nine-year-old Jerry as he bounded into the house, letting the storm door slam behind him.
“What do you mean?” queried his single-parent mother, who had just finished a ten hour shift and was keenly aware that she was in the below-average income bracket.
As Jerry peeled off his gloves and began wrestling with the zipper on his down coat, he eagerly explained: “I shoveled Mr. Lemke’s driveway and he gave me five one-dollar bills. And he told me he would do that every time I shoveled his drive. We’re gonna be rich, mom. All our problems are going to be over now!”
There have been times when I thought just like Jerry. Superficially I believed the myths of Hollywood and Madison Avenue, thinking that life would be more wonderful if I just had “enough” money or if I could do something “significant” so people would notice me. Even more superficially, I have sometimes pursued fulfillment through food or some physical experience. In other words, I thought money, fame or some experience would make my life rich.
Then I went to Sunday School where I heard a different story; it was really hard for me to embrace the philosophy of Jesus who said things like, “it is better to give than receive” and “he that loses his life for my sake will find it.” Yet, after over half a century of life experience I have noticed that Jesus keeps getting proved right. It turns out that the things that make life most wonderful are not money, fame, and physical highs. Life’s true riches are tied to more substantial things like: fidelity, dignity of life, self-respect, mutual trust and honesty. Those are commodities that are developed through commitment, obedience, humility and discipline. And they are hidden from anyone seeking to get rich quick or to take moral short cuts. Eventually Jerry will discover that five dollars per snow storm is not much to live on, and that even getting a lot of money doesn’t necessarily make for a rich life.
If you have become disillusioned with the rat race of life, try looking for buried treasure. I found a virtual gold mine concealed between the covers of The Bible—a book whose wisdom remains hidden to many. This wildly popular and time-proven book reveals that the person who gives up on their get-rich-and-happy-quick strategies and embraces God’s principles will find the secrets to an abundant life. One scripture puts it like this: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23a NLT)
These “fruits” are the real riches of life. No amount of money or fame can compare to love, peace and joy. Nothing can bless a home like patience, kindness and goodness. Faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are more precious than gold. These riches cannot be obtained through competition. They cannot be inherited. They cannot be manufactured. They are fruit. They are the result of letting God live in our hearts.
I’m rich and become richer every time I embrace God’s ways and stay connected to Him. It is counter-cultural, but I have seen it demonstrated thousands of times—living life God’s way, with God’s help, makes people’s lives rich. And these are riches that no one can steal away. I’m rich, and you can be rich too!