by Charles R. Swindoll
I'll never forget an actual situation I heard about on the radio some years ago. A woman in West Palm Beach, Florida, died alone at the age of 71. The coroner's report was tragic. "Cause of death: malnutrition."
The dear old lady wasted away to 50 pounds. Investigators who found her said the place where she lived was a veritable pigpen, the biggest mess you can imagine. One seasoned inspector declared he'd never seen a residence in greater disarray.
The woman had begged food at her neighbors' back doors and gotten what clothes she had from the Salvation Army. From all outward appearances, she was a penniless recluse, a pitiful and forgotten widow. But such was not the case.
Amid the jumble of her unclean, disheveled belongings, two keys were found which led the officials to safe deposit boxes at two different local banks. What they found was absolutely unbelievable.
The first contained over 100 stock certificates, plus hundreds of other valuable certificates, bonds, and solid financial securities . . . not to mention a stack of cash amounting to nearly $200,000. The second box had no certificates, only more currency—lots of it—$600,000 to be exact. Adding the net worth of both boxes, they found that the woman had in her possession well over a million dollars! She was a millionaire who died a victim of starvation in a humble home.
I conducted a funeral years ago for a man who died without family or friends. All he had was a fox terrier . . . to whom he left his entire estate: around $76,000.
We need to make an investigation of our own possessiveness, our tendency to hoard, to hold onto, rather than invest in the lives of others. Remember Paul's words to the Corinthian church:
But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. (2 Corinthians 8:7-8)
A thorough self-evaluation is one of the requisites for following closely. The Corinthians abounded in vision, spiritual gifts, knowledge, zeal, and even love. Paul then said to abound in generosity too. Be givers! Be people who excel in unselfishness!
This is timely advice for our own generation . . . and worth our thorough investigation.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.