Wealthy, Yet Poor
Romans 15:4 instructs us - "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." Those who are wise will endeavor to learn from those things that were written before in the Old Testament. We know this is good and proper. There are also great lessons to be learned, however, from the mistakes and successes of those who have gone before us but did not have the circumstances of their life divinely recorded in the pages of the Bible.

For instance, let me briefly take you back to 1923. It was that year in which a group of the world's most wealthy men met in a large city in Midwest America. Who was present?

  1. The president of the largest independent steel company.
  2. The president of the largest utility company.
  3. The greatest wheat speculator.
  4. The president of the New York Stock Exchange.
  5. A member of the President's Cabinet.
  6. The greatest speculator on Wall Street.
  7. The president of the Bank of International Settlements.
  8. The head of the world's greatest monopoly.

Collectively, these tycoons controlled more wealth than there was in the United States Treasury, and for years newspapers and magazines had been printing their success stories and encouraging the youth of the nation to follow their examples.

But, things are not always what they seem. Men may appear to be highly successful physically but quite poor spirituality. Many times material success will not last for a person because his life is not founded on Christian principles. Material wealth never brings the lasting joy it promises.

By 1950, here is what had become of those eight great men:

  1. Charles Schwab, the president of the steel company, lived on borrowed money the last five years of his life. He died broke.
  2. Samuel Insull, the president of the utility company, died broke and in semi-disgrace.
  3. Arthur Cutten, the great wheat speculator, died bankrupt.
  4. Richard Whitney, the president of the Stock Exchange, spent a term in Sing Sing (a maximum security prison).
  5. Albert Fall, the member of the Cabinet, was pardoned from prison so he could die at home.
  6. Jesse Livermore, the "bear" on Wall Street, committed suicide.
  7. Leon Frazier, the bank president, also took his own life.
  8. Ivan Krueger, the head of the monopoly, also ended his life prematurely.

All of these men had learned how to make money (lots of it), but not one of them had learned how to live. None of them had a real purpose to their life. They were physically wealthy (for a time), but spiritually impoverished. How tragic!

What happened to them has happened to countless men before, and it is still happening today.

"Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Tim. 6:6-10).

"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26).