Tuesday, 28 June 2011



I don’t know if Microsoft founder Bill Gates is of any particular religious persuasion but he certainly has grasped one of Jesus essential teachings on the nature of wealth. Wealth and its acquisition can have a numbing effect on the spirit of a man or woman when they become enmeshed in its deceitful web. Jesus told the story about the wealthy farmer who had his barns filled and his money made but was not ready to face his God when death called (Luke 12:16-21). Gates has made more money than almost any other man on the planet (this year he came in as the second wealthiest) but he has realised the limited happiness that simply acquiring money gives.

At the peak of the software revolution it is estimated that he was worth $400 billion. To invest his fortune in worthwhile endeavours he has set up a foundation endeavouring to raise $37.1 billion to assist the poorest of the worlds poor. He is under no illusion that he can take it with him and he has no intention of leaving it to his children, as he says, “ they will have to pick a job they like and go to work. They are normal kids now. They do chores, they get pocket money.” Paul the Apostle tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10) and Jesus in His earthly life gave an example of living simply and without ostentation which sadly is more than can be said for some of His present day followers (but that’s another story!).

Even the rich and famous sometimes see through the glam and sham of high living. Liz Taylor once refused to accept a $1 million pink diamond ring from Richard Burton. She said they decided to build a hospital in Botswana with the money instead. Taylor explained, “ I love Richard for the extravagant thought but he doesn’t have to spoil me any more…just love me.” Bill Gates is currently pouring his vast resources into a programme to vaccinate 243 million children in the worlds poorest countries against illnesses such as pneumonia and measles. As a result it is expected that four million lives will be saved over the next four years.
Not only is Gates making an invaluable contribution to the betterment of peoples lives but he is also inspiring by example other members of the super rich to emulate his philanthropy. Oprah Winfrey is a close friend and has pledged to donate the bulk of her $2.7 billion estate to charity. Proverbs 11:28: says "Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf." - Bill Gates has learned this ancient truth. Let’s hope that he has also taken to heart Jesus insights into the limitations of simply living for the here and now…. “ Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing …And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need… So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. (Luke 12)
Gerard O'Shea

No comments: