We’re only stewards, not owners, of temporal goods
Inspired & Blessed

We’re only stewards, not owners, of temporal goods

Nov 13, 2023, 6:26 AM
Bob Acebedo

Bob Acebedo


Here’s a captivating story about the world’s first billionaire and philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937):

John Davison Rockefeller was once the richest man in the world. By age 25, he controlled one of the largest oil refineries in the U.S. By age 31, he had become the world’s largest oil refiner. By age 38, he commanded 90% of the oil refined in the U.S. By 50, he was the richest man in the country. As a young man, every decision, attitude, and relationship were tailored to create to his personal power and wealth.

But at the age of 53, he became ill. His entire body became racked with pain and he lost all of his hair. In complete agony, the world’s only billionaire could buy anything he wanted, but he could only digest soup and crackers. An associate wrote, “He could not sleep, would not smile and nothing in life meant anything to him.” His personal, highly skilled physicians predicted he would die within a year. That year passed agonizingly slowly.

As he approached death, he awoke one morning with the vague realization of not being able to take any of his wealth with him into the next world. The man who could control the business world suddenly realized he was not in control of his own life. He was left with a choice.

He called his attorneys, accountants, and managers and announced that he wanted to channel his assets to hospitals, research, and charity work. John D. Rockefeller established his Foundation. The new direction eventually led to the discovery of Penicillin, cures for Malaria, Tuberculosis and Diphtheria.

But perhaps the most amazing part of Rockefeller’s story is that the moment he began to give back a portion of all that he had earned, his body’s chemistry was altered so significantly that he got better. It looked as if he would die at 53 but he lived to be 98.

Before his death, he wrote this in his diary, “God taught me that everything belongs to Him, and I am only a channel to comply His wishes. My life has been one long, happy holiday thereafter. Full of work and full of play, I dropped the worry, on the way, and God was good to me every day.” END OF STORY.

Reflecting on the story, let me share the following three insightful points.

One, by reason of divine design and purpose, we are only STEWARDS (katiwala) of God’s creation, of his gifts of talent or treasure. Whatever we have, whether it’s inherited or something that we’ve strived for, it doesn’t belong to us. It’s God’s. We’re only a “channel”, as Rockefeller pointed out.

Two, when we give, we shouldn’t expect anything in return. I remember a priest in his sermon once pointed out: “Pag ikaw ay nagbigay at umasa ng kapalit, ang tawag diyan ay hindi kabutihan, kundi ‘transaction’. Katulad kung ikaw ay bibili sa tindahan, ang halagang ibibigay mo ay may katumbas na kapalit na produkto. Kaya, kung nais nating gumawa ng kabutihan sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay, huwag umasa ng anumang kapalit.”

Three, giving – as an operative demonstration of the virtue of charity – should be coupled with love.

While it may be true that it’s possible to give without loving (or there are those who give simply because they are capable of giving), loving without giving is intrinsically impossible. Because giving is already presupposed in loving – and the greatest gift that one can give is oneself.

#InspiredAndBlessed #BobAcebedo #WereOnlyStewardsNotOwnersOfTemporalGoods #JohnRockefeller #FirstBillionaire #Inspiration #GivingBack #OpinYonColumn #OpinYon #WeTakeAStand

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