A troubled young man has a desperate conversation with God one day.
“Lord,” he says, “If I ask for one thing, surely something a God as omnipotent as You can provide, will You give it to me?”
God answered, “It depends on whether it is good for you and matches My plan for your life.”
“Well,” began the young man, “I was wondering if You could give me a billion dollars.”
“For what purpose would you need this money?” asked God.
“I could use it to help me get so many important things I need in my life.”
“Well, I could use it to buy a house. A really nice one. With a Bentley in the driveway.”
“My son,” answered God, “You say you need a house and a car, yet you already have them. Are you not grateful for things I have already given you?.”
“All right, never mind those things,” said the man. “But I could use the money for respect.”
“Respect?” teased God. “You can buy respect?”
“Of course,” answered the man. “Everyone knows that money is power. The man with the money has the power and the answers. It’s just like the Golden Rule: ‘Whoever has the gold makes the rules.’”
“Wrong!” reprimanded God. “I make the rules, and the rules anyone else makes must not contradict My 10 ‘Rules’. Besides, the true Golden Rule is this: ‘Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.’ You cannot buy respect, but you can earn it by treating others the way you want to be treated, by serving humanity more than yourself, and by giving more than asking. This is how you gain respect. Those who think money will buy respect only get fear and false admiration.”
“Okay, I understand,” answered the man. “Now it is time to get serious. I am always lonely, and I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life. If I had a billion dollars, I’d have a large host of friends and a wonderful wife. Even if I didn't have the fancy house, the flashy car, and even if some people did not respect me, I could still be happy.”
God looked down on this young man with pity. “My son,” He gently chided, “I understand your pain, truly I do. Nevertheless, there have been multitudes that have, for thousands of years, used money to buy friends and even spouses. These same people, who were the richest of the rich, were often the loneliest of the lonely. The people they thought were friends exploited them for their wealth, yet did not help them in time of need. Think about this: if you gained friends with money, what happens if the money runs out? Will not they, too? A true friend will stay with you whether you are rich or poor. As for a wife, if she is truly wonderful, she will love you and be devoted to you for richer or poorer. She will honor you and stay true to her vows. If a woman only marries you for your money, it will be not be out of love and compatibility but out of convenience and a lust for wealth. Such a godless union would be an abomination to Me.”
The man, knowing he could not debate with God, sighed deeply. “Okay, I see what You mean, Lord. Still, if I have not fully exhausted your patience, I just have one more thing to say.”
“Go ahead,” replied God.
“Here’s the deal,” began the young man. “I live in America. Everything costs money. To eat or have shelter, or even to have running water, it costs money. If I had a billion dollars, I would never have to worry about where my next meal would come from, I would never have to worry about losing my job, having my house foreclosed, and living on the street. If I need medicine or surgery, I would not have to worry about insurance denying me coverage, and even though I can’t live forever, I would have the best medical care there is. I would have a long, carefree life. Is that too much to ask, Lord?”
“’My grace is sufficient for you,’” answered God. You say you want to never have to worry about food or shelter, but I say to you, ‘do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink. Look at the birds of the air. They do not plant or harvest, yet I take care of them, and you are worth more than they.’ You want a long life? Well, I sent My Son to die for your sins so that you could not only have a long life, but an eternal one. Therefore, ‘seek first My Kingdom, and all of these things will be given to you. For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”
The young man was astonished. “Here I am longing to be rich when I was rich all along. Please forgive me for my thoughtless complaints. Thank You for all You have given me.”
“You are welcome, My son,” answered God. “Go in peace.”
The man went away silently, no longer troubled, but in amazement of the fact that he has more riches than he can count.