Wednesday, March 22, 2017

David Rockefeller Gone at 101

Bank executive, philanthropist and oil fortune heir David Rockefeller died on Monday morning March 20th.  He was 101. The grandson of John D. Rockefeller Sr. and a former chairman and CEO of The Chase Manhattan Bank, died in his sleep of apparent congestive heart failure.

Rockefeller was born in June of 1915. He graduated from Harvard in 1936 and earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago in 1940.  He was reported to be valued at some 3.3 billion dollars at his death. And he is credited with giving away some $2 billion to various causes along the way. He had pledged to donate at least half of his fortune during his life or in his will. The entire family today is said to be worth an estimated at about 11 billion dollars in all.

It is hard for the average person to begin to fathom possessing a fortune like this or anything even close. According to an article in Inside Wealth, the U.S. today has a total of some 10.4 millionaires. And there are now 145,000 U.S. households worth $25 million or more. And another source state that, as of 2016, there were 540 billionaires in the US.  The U.S. Census Bureau reported that almost 12% of households in the U.S. now earn between $100,000 - $150,000 yearly.

But wealth is a relative thing. In some places in the world, there are those who are considered filthy rich who would fall well below the poverty level in America. And then, tragically, there are those who are unable to make any living at all and exist on the literal verge of starvation and death  – with some losing that battle daily. One source said that about 21,000 die of hunger each day and over 7 ½ million each year.

But what does the Bible teach about the place of money in the lives who have it in abundance or may have more than they need to live?  There is no clearer passage on that question than the one seen in 1Timothy 6:19.  “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,  storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

Then too, in Hebrews 13 we find that the worship God includes words about sharing with others who may be in need. Verse 15 begins. “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” But how many of us ever consider that our sharing with others in need is a literal form of sacrifice and worship to our God?

In Revelation 3 we read of the Laodicean church. It is labeled ‘The Lukewarm Church’. And many Bible scholars feel this is referring to the overall church of our modern day. But even if not, it still warms about having an attitude where material prosperity interferes with, or totally overshadows, spiritual maturity and the priority of a God-centered life for a Christian.

I know that David Rockefeller gave away vast sums of his fortune while he was alive and perhaps more even after his passing. He is to be highly commended for that and has left a great legacy in the process. Multitudes have bee blessed by his generosity over the years. But what I don’t know is whether or not he had ever become ‘rich’ in Christ before he died. If not, despite his great charitable efforts, it won’t mean anything personally as far as his final destiny in eternity is concerned

For those who have the means to help others materially speaking, some specific, interesting and encouraging promises are offered in Psalm 41:1-3. And perhaps this is worthy of serious and prayerful consideration in light of what is declared there.

“Blessed is he who considers the poor;

The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive,

And he will be blessed on the earth;

You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.

The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness;

You will sustain him on his sickbed.”

Bill Breckenridge

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