Be Wise – Go For Total Wealth
When we lack certain things, the joy of living is diminished. In some instances we may become considerably distressed and even incapacitated. When we are sick, in other words, when we lack good health, it is usually not a happy circumstance and we do all we can to regain our health. When someone is poor, that is, when they lack money and material possessions, life is not very enjoyable. Such a person is not able to live the way he or she wishes or do the things he or she wants. Poverty oppresses and incapacitates. As individuals and as nations, we all are desirous to distance ourselves from poverty. Likewise, life is not so full and satisfying when we fail to find happiness and fulfillment in relationships and in our work. (By relationships, I mean relationship with God and our fellow human beings). The deep desires we have to commune with deity and to love and be loved by others are emotional needs we are born with. And so we find that human beings experience want in three identifiable areas. Life requires us to cope with physical, material and spiritual wants.
The saying, ‘health is wealth’ implies that someone in good health can be said to have physical wealth. When a person has a lot of money and material possessions we describe him or her as being materially wealthy. In the same vein, when someone finds happiness and fulfillment in relationships and in their work, they can be said to possess spiritual wealth. And so we come to the concept of total wealth. To have total wealth is to be completely free from any form of lack, be it physical, material or spiritual. This is the holistic model of success. A person is truly wealthy only when he or she has gained total wealth.
In general, people tend to be primarily concerned with their material well-being. Hence they focus on striving for material wealth. But thanks to Jane Fonda, the keep fit buff. In the last few decades, Americans and others around the globe have realized the need to pursue wealth of the physical kind. There is now an awareness of the health risks inherent in the sedentary life style engendered by technological advancement. These days, being healthy is not just about being free from sickness. One has to be physically fit. Lots of people are now adopting the proactive approach of exercising regularly to maintain good health and keep fit.
However, gaining spiritual wealth is one goal most people cannot be said to be striving hard to attain. And to think that this ought to be our priority. When someone gains spiritual wealth, they are guaranteed to also achieve material and physical wealth. If you have any reservations about this assertion, then listen to the wise counsel of one of the world’s greatest spiritual luminaries, Jesus Christ of Nazareth:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Taken from the Bible (NIV), Mathew 6:25-33)
But what is there to lose if someone chooses not to bother with the pursuit of spiritual wealth? This is a perfectly legitimate question to ask and the answer can be found by taking a close look at the lives of some prominent individuals. (Some of them are late).
When it comes to fame and fortune, very few people can match Michael Jackson. The tag ‘superstar’ was simply not good enough for him and so he has been dubbed ‘megastar’. Unquestionably, the singer has raked in megabucks as earnings from record sales worldwide. But in spite of his stupendous career success, he has not found happiness and fulfillment in close relationships. His marriage to Priscilla Presley did not prove to be blissful. He has been involved in other relationships that ended on a sour and acrimonious note with settlements taking place in and out of court. Michael Jackson may rank as one of the richest and most famous men in the world, but he certainly is not one of the happiest. Riches and popularity are just not enough. We need spiritual wealth to guarantee happiness and fulfillment in life.
The late Princess Diana had everything going for her, it would seem. She became a member of one of the world’s most loved and respected royal families by marriage. In terms of material wealth and social status, her union with British royalty catapulted her to the very top. However, the love of God and fellow man which are pointers to spiritual wealth were not particularly evident in her private life. In close relationships, happiness and fulfillment eluded her. She slid from the position of dream princess to the level of adulterous spouse and then chose to tag along as girlfriend to a wealthy businessman. We all know the tragic end to her story. She was killed in a car crash while on a trip with her lover.
By third world standards, late Bob Marley was a phenomenal success. Reggae, a brand of music unique to the Caribbean Island of Jamaica was made popular around the globe by this highly talented musician. But it was his deficiency in the area of physical wealth that brought his soaring career to an abrupt and premature end. He succumbed to cancer at the relatively young age of thirty-one when he should have been at his creative best.
Another notable figure who possessed material wealth but lacked the physical kind was the late King Hussein of Jordan. As monarch of an oil producing Arab State, he enjoyed the affluence and influence that come with his position. But he had unsatisfied physical wants. Even the best doctors in the United States could not save him from the cancer that put an end to his reign while he was still in his sixties. Money cannot always secure good health much less procure longevity. Only the possession of spiritual wealth will enable us attain and maintain happiness, good health and success in life.
If anyone is still not convinced of the wisdom of striving for spiritual wealth, the statement I am about to quote should settle the matter. It was made by someone who has chased after the material as well as the spiritual kind of wealth.
Sir John Templeton is one of America’s most successful financial investors. He is reputed to have created some of the world’s largest and most successful international investment funds. Later, he sold his various Templeton Funds to the Franklin Group for $440 million. Now in his nineties, he is a fulltime philanthropist. Through the John Templeton Foundation which he established, he gives away about $40 million a year to funding work aimed at discovering and advancing scientific knowledge about the spiritual aspect of life. For his many accomplishments, he was knighted Sir John by Queen Elizabeth II in 1987. Here is what this extraordinary individual has to say about what the pursuit of spiritual wealth has done to his life: “I focus on spiritual wealth now, and I am busier, more enthusiastic, and more joyful than I have ever been.” (Culled from www.templeton.org)
We all want the best for ourselves and total wealth is the very best that life has to offer us. Be wise, go for it.