day 3K365: Duty Free

“Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

If you have ever traveled outside of the United States, you have likely been enticed to buy something from a Duty-Free Shoppers store where we’re (might think) getting a bargain because we don’t have to pay any tax or duties on what has been bought.  We get to do that because of Charles Feeney.  Mr. Feeney made a real fortune from us shopping at his stores.  At one time his net worth was estimated to be $8B (yes that is a B as in Billions).  But, like the tax and duties that he helped us avoid, Mr. Feeney didn’t feel right about having that much wealth.  So, what he did with all of that money is that he gave it away all the way down to only having $2 million dollars that he lived off of.  That’s still a lot of money, but in comparison to $8B and the lifestyle that he could have lived and his peers net worth, he made a very significant choice and decision. I read in the New York Times that he lived in a rented two-bedroom apartment, traveled by public transportation, flew economy until he was 75 years old and wore a wristwatch that cost about $10.  And all those billions?  He gave them all away to charities that he didn’t derive any benefits from and many (if not most) he gave anonymously using cashier’s checks so the donations couldn’t be traced back to him.  There is something right in remembering Charles Feeney (who recently died at 92) and his life example.

It doesn’t appear that Mr. Feeney was a man of Faith and a Believer.  But Mr. Feeney’s story reminded me of the story of the young rich man whom Jesus asked to give it all up, but he just couldn’t. We don’t know why he couldn’t but as we process it through our own lives and experience we probably each have examples of those things that we also just wouldn’t see ourselves being able to give up.  The faith part of the rich man and Mr. Feeney’s story is that while Charles Feeney was able to manage his life on $2MM and didn’t need much faith to get there, with faith the young rich man would have known that with giving up everything, and not holding back anything, and going with Jesus He would have had all that he ever needed and more. God has us all at different points in our lives and while He probably isn’t asking us to give up everything we have, he is asking us to have more of the attitude of Mr. Feeney in that we shouldn’t be caught up and focused on all that we could have or how the world expects us be.

Reference: Matthew 19:21 (New Living Translation)


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