When Robert Edmiston lost his job in the early 1970s, he used the money he received in severance pay to start International Motors. Edmiston went on to become one of the wealthiest business owners in the UK and one of the country’s most generous philanthropists. As a believer in Jesus, he felt compelled to use his wealth to start religious and educational charities that to this day bring hope to people around the world. With offices in Europe, Africa, North America, Latin America, and Asia Pacific, Robert Edmiston has donated hundreds of millions of dollars since 1988.
Our world grants increasing access to those who can afford the price of admission. If you want to hear your favorite band in concert, you can buy a ticket. Spend more money and you can buy a backstage pass and take a selfie with the band during the “meet and greet.” Pay a lot more and they may be willing to sing at your wedding or birthday party.
In 2008, a man was killed in a car crash in New Zealand. The autopsy revealed he’d been driving without wearing a seatbelt, having installed a fake belt which went over one shoulder so that it appeared to any passing motorist or police car that he was actually wearing a real one. He was pretending to comply with the law, but according to the coroner his subterfuge cost him his life.
After I moved to Africa, a couple living in the US contacted me and said, “We’d like to make a financial contribution to help you with your ministry in Uganda.” Because my job at the time didn’t require that I raise funds, I thanked them but declined their generous offer.
When my twin sister and I were 5 years old, we began counting the money we had in our piggybanks. It turned out that one of us had more than the other. To our young minds, this just wasn’t right. So, we decided to balance our accounts by helping ourselves to our mother’s money!
On the occasion of billionaire Ted Turner’s 75th birthday last year, a CNN profile opened with these poignant words: “What will matter most about Ted Turner’s life story when they roll the final credits? That he started the first 24-hour news network? Built a fortune once worth $10 billion? Was Time magazine’s Man of the Year? Received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame? Made The New York Times best-seller list? Maybe it was that time he raced a sailboat faster than anyone else. Or the year his baseball team won the World Series. Impressed yet?”
While I was helping to organize donations of clothing for a church event, I paused to touch a cashmere sweater’s soft grey cloth. When I realized it would fit me, I considered the possibility of owning it—for free! Volunteers were allowed first dibs on the donations. Cashmere is an expensive fabric, and although I have enough sweaters, this one was calling my name. After some inner turmoil, I finally offered the item to a fellow worker, who joyfully accepted it.
The X Prize Foundation attempts to solve the world’s problems by offering large cash prizes to whatever team can fix them first. Winning teams have built a spacecraft that can fly beyond the earth’s atmosphere twice in 2 weeks and cars that achieve 100 miles per gallon. Other teams are trying to land a robot on the moon, build a machine that can quickly sequence each person’s genome, and create a portable device that can diagnose a patient’s condition. These goals will most likely be met, for people will work hard for $10 million.
The other day I took my son to a baseball-batting cage and paid for eight sets of 25 pitches. To our pleasant surprise, when the round finished, the balls kept coming—and coming. The machine had malfunctioned, and as a result it kept delivering an abundance of pitches. This reminded me of the time a friend’s 5-year-old daughter woke up and said, “Last night I had the best dream. I was at the beach and more toys than I could ever hope for washed up on the shore for me to have!”
I sat on the gift-shop bench while my family looked for souvenirs. We had just finished climbing nearly 300 steps of spiral staircase to the top of a towering memorial. As I leaned against the wall, the display nearest me caught my attention. Filled with clear packages of coins and bills, it offered a selection of replicas of dated money no longer in circulation. One particular piece—the triangular two-bit—especially intrigued me. Similar only in color to a current coin, I mused on its worthlessness in today’s market.
In the early 1500s, Martin Luther said faith in Jesus justifies us. But he also stated that faith should permeate all areas of our lives, including business dealings. Two and a half centuries later, a young man named John Woolman took this to heart as he opened a tailor shop. Due to his commitment to Christian love, he chose not to purchase any cotton or dye supplies that had been produced by slaves. Then he would be able to say, with a clear conscience, that he had lived according to holiness and sincerity in all his dealings (2 Corinthians 1:12).
In 2008, economists confirmed that the UK was in recession. Sure enough, in time, as many as one in ten people lost their jobs, and the normally bustling “high streets” fell silent as many well-known companies became insolvent.
Jess likes money. In her brief 4½ years on the planet, she has already learned that she can play her aunts and uncles for spare change. Cuteness and intelligence comprise a formidably lucrative combination. Her parents, quite naturally, are concerned over this. “Don’t ask for money,” they tell her. “You should earn it by doing chores.”
My mother has developed a habit of occasionally asking us what items we would want once she leaves this earthly existence. Responding with lighthearted humor to her musings on death, and her tendency to be a bit of a packrat, my sister and I tell her not to hide any money in the house because we plan on selling it fully furnished when she dies. When I realized the other day that she still had a grapevine wreath my dad and I had made more than 20 years ago, however, I half-jokingly told her to write my name on it.