Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Is It That Really Matters In Life?

In ancient Jerusalem, there was a man widely regarded for his incredible ability to make money. It seemed everything he touched turned to gold.

But as the years passed and his wealth grew, he lost the kind heart that had earlier guided him and built his outstanding reputation and instead grew greedy for ever more money.

One day a widow with two small children came to him and said, "You sir are the greatest investor of our time. This is my small inheritance, it is all I have to sustain our little family. Would you please invest it for us?"

"Of course," he replied, as he took her money.

But as the months passed and no dividends were ever paid, she came to this rich man again and said, "Sir, I am running out of money and may lose my home. What has happened to the money I trusted with you to invest?"

"I don't recall," he bellowed in reply. And abruptly dismissed her. "But you have our money," she cried out as the tears streamed down from her eyes. "Prove it," he said with a sneer, and then motioned her away.

Later that day, the widow shared her story with an elderly neighbor, a man widely respected for being kindly, patient and wise. "I'm sorry you were treated this way," he replied to her. "Let me think about this and tomorrow I will take action."

Realizing the greedy man would never return this widow's money without his conscience telling him to do so, the wise man decided to visit the greedy man, not with threats or demands but with a question.

The next day when the two men sat down together, the wise man said, "You have made an incredible amount of money and everyone knows it. Because I have a problem concerning money, I am coming to you for a solution.

"There is a widow who trusted you with her money and now she is nearly destitute and she and her small children will soon be living on the street. Just as you are famous for being rich, a self-made man and one who was once respected for your compassion and generous heart, now you are reviled as being greedy and cruel.

"My question to you is how would you like people to think of you?

"One whom they take to their hearts as they once did, or one to be shunned and despised, friendless in the world other than insincere friendship offered by those who only want something from you. Would you like to be regarded as having the riches that go with the wisdom of King Solomon or to be seen as a petty little man, an ogre, soon forgotten in history?"

After a moment of silence as the greedy man considered the question, he replied in a solemn voice, "Send her to me."

That afternoon when the widow arrived the greedy man made her comfortable and then said, "I'm sorry. Sometimes in being rich, it is easy to lose all perspective and get caught up in greed. In this bag is all the money you gave me, and in addition, I've added a substantial sum.

"But you still have a big problem.

"You have no steady means of income," the rich man continued. "I need someone part-time I can trust to help me account for my money, someone I can teach to keep my records. If you were to take such a job, I promise you, you will have time to care for your children and the job will pay you well. You will live very comfortably from now on."

With tears of joy running down her cheeks, the widow happily accepted the job. She started work the next day and found herself very happy with her job for many years thereafter as this formerly greedy man treated her well.

For this rich man had realized from the wise man, that no matter how rich he was, he would never really be rich if he allowed greed to destroy his reputation. And with his reputation destroyed, eventually it would take his self-esteem with it.

Instead, he found much greater self-esteem by being kind and generous with this woman and thereafter, kind and generous with everyone he knew, as he became wealthy not only in money but in genuine friendships and in the respect people held for him.

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