James Marshall left his family’s home in New Jersey as a young man and, like so many others, began a migration west. After contracting malaria while living in Missouri he was advised to go further west, and in 1845 he arrived in California. He worked a number of different jobs and served in the army during the Mexican-American War in 1846. When he got out, a man he had earlier befriended, John Sutter, entered a partnership agreement with Marshall to build a sawmill.
So many people think if they just had money, everything would be different. What many who do get money suddenly find is that things are different—it gets worse. When Jack Whittaker won the Powerball lottery prize jackpot of over $314 million on Christmas day 2002, it was at the time the largest prize won by a single winner in US history. Whittaker was already a successful businessman, but the sudden windfall proved to be anything but a blessing for his family.
In May of 2012, a 32-carat Burmese ruby and diamond ring—that was part of the collection of Lily Safra, one of the richest women in the world—was sold at an auction. The pre-auction estimate for the sale was $3–5 million, but the final sale price ended up at $6.7 million. It is believed to be the most expensive ruby ever sold.
As valuable as rubies are, the Bible tells us that wisdom is far better and more valuable. No earthly treasure can compare to wisdom because nothing else offers the same protection, benefits, and blessings that wisdom does.
A story is told about a man who found out it was his time to go to Heaven.
He asked the Lord if he could bring just one thing. The Lord said, “No”. Finally after many requests the Lord said, “You can bring one thing.”
Happily, the man packed his suitcase full of gold.
When he arrived in Heaven the angels said, “Sorry you can’t bring that in here.”
He said, “The Lord said I could.”
“Okay,” they said. “By the way, what’s in there anyway?”
The man opened the bag, and they looked in. Then an angel said, “Oh. It’s pavement.”
Russell Conwell told of an ancient Persian, Ali Hafed, who owned a very large farm that had orchards, grain fields, and gardens. Ali was a wealthy and content man. One day Ali entertained a guest who told him all about diamonds and how wealthy he would be if he owned a diamond mine. Ali Hafed went to bed that night a poor man—poor because he was discontented.
Craving a mine of diamonds, he sold his farm to search for the rare stones. He traveled the world over, finally becoming so poor, broken, and defeated that he committed suicide.
William Randolph Hearst was a very wealthy newspaper publisher who had an incredible collection of art. The Hearst mansion in northern California is a testament to his insatiable desire for artistic treasures. On one occasion he learned of some artwork he was determined to obtain. He sent his agent abroad to search for the treasure. After months of investigating, the agent reported that the treasure had been found. To further sweeten the find, Hearst learned that the relic wouldn’t cost him a dime. He already owned it.
Robert Arthington lived in a single room, cooked his own meals, and shared his friendship with students who were in need. Yet he gave tremendous amounts of money during his lifetime to Christian missions. When he died, his estate was worth about five million dollars which he willed to missions.
A preacher was in Atlanta, several years ago, and noticed in the restaurants section of the Yellow Pages, an entry for a place called Church of God Grill. The peculiar name aroused his curiosity and he dialed the number. A man answered with a cheery, “Hello! Church of God Grill!”
The story is told of a rich industrialist who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. “Why aren’t you out there fishing?” he asked.
“Because I’ve caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman.
“Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?” the rich man asked.
“‘What would I do with them?”