Jesus said: “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
John Milburn Davis, and his wife Sarah settled in Hiawatha, Kansas in 1915. They were hard-working, frugal, childless, and lived very ordinary lives. However, life changed for Mr. Davis when his wife Sarah died. Davis “became a big spender”.
According to an article from website: cityofhiawatha.org, Davis commissioned elaborate monuments to be built in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Hiawatha in the form of life-sized marble statues of himself and his wife, Sarah. The statues of the couple “were striking in their detail and accuracy”.
Included among the statues was a life-sized “empty overstuffed chair”; and a figure of Mr. Davis “without his left hand, which he had lost to infection.”. When they were finished there were in total “11 marble or granite statues” which were “positioned beneath the canopy or surrounding it.”. In addition, Davis had a “marble and granite wall erected to discourage visitors from walking among the statutes.”.
The cost of the memorial was “staggering in a small town during The Great Depression.”. At that time Hiawatha was without a hospital and the community leaders wanted Davis to underwrite it and various other community projects. However “he ignored their requests.”. Davis said: “...it's my money and I spent it the way I pleased.”.
Jesus told a parable of a different type of rich man in the Book of Luke. This particular man accumulated great wealth and stored crops. He made the decision to store the fine crops that were produced from his fertile land in big barns. His barns became too small to hold all the crops so he wanted to tear down the original barns to build even bigger barns. Then the man said that he could sit back relax, “eat, drink, and be merry”.
“But God said to him...You fool! You will die this very night...a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”.
John Milton Davis spent his accumulated money on marble and granite statues, which according to various articles are slowly sinking into the ground. In the parable of the rich farmer, he accumulated more crops than he could ever use by storing his crops in big barns for happier times ahead, however he died before he could enjoy those times.
Do not misunderstand me, God's people ought to be self-responsible, and save for a rainy day or retirement. They should not depend on others to provide for their needs. However, Jesus was constantly challenging the people to think and act beyond their comfort zone. Instead of storing up material wealth like the examples above: Jesus taught to “use what we have been generously given for God's kingdom”(NLT). It is then believers will become eternally rich.
Lord God, thank You for the teachings of Jesus Christ. Teach us how to be responsible godly people, and also hear how You desire for us to give and share with others. Amen.
~ Ann Brock Ludington