I live in the tiny town of Winchester, Idaho, pop. sign says 308. One time customers stood six deep at the cash register of the local meat market to buy lottery tickets. The jackpot had just hit $100 million. “People act kinda crazy when the prize money gets that big,” the owner told me.
The prospect of big money does make folks do strange things. Whether you’re a Wall Street investor, a state governor, a homeowner facing foreclosure, or a cowboy on the range.
Gold Fever hit in the Old West on numerous occasions. The California Gold Rush peaked by the late 1850s when word spread of a huge silver strike in Washoe (modern-day Nevada). Without waiting for the snow season to pass or the mountain trails to clear, discouraged forty-niners, curious late-comers, and successful merchants all journeyed over the Sierra Nevadas.
Some too poor to ride, with horses a scarcity, they hiked over the summit maybe a few feet behind the man ahead of them on the trail. Worldly possessions on their back, a pick and pan under their arms, they set off with high hopes to make a fortune. A few months later, most returned over the same mountains, threadbare and broke.
The promise of gobs of gold is a powerful motivator. Can make anyone lose all reason, go crazy. A man will leave his family and sail to Nome, Alaska, to dig in a frozen beach. A store owner will sell his business in Seattle and trek over Chilkoot pass in the middle of an 1897 winter headed to the Yukon.
Jesus understands Gold Fever. He knows where that puts him. “You can’t worship God and Money both,” he said (Matthew 6:24 MSG). He also fully realizes we have material needs. He has a simple solution: “Seek My help. Trust Me. Your everyday human concerns will be met” (Matthew 6:33 MSG).
Wanting fast, big money enslaves you, turns you into a fool. . .or a criminal. And how few who receive instant, enormous gains know how to care for it when they get it. Lots of before and after stories have been told about lottery winners and those who inherit windfalls.
Here's some ways to avoid those mistakes.
FIVE SMART MONEY MOVES
1. Strive instead for slow, steady, smart investments. Fast money in often goes out faster.
2. Work for your daily bread. Fully appreciate everything you've got.
3. Diversify when you can. Invest and work in several different fields of interest and aptitude.
4. Thank God for what you receive. Learn to be grateful and content with your lot or little.
5. Ask Him to provide what you lack. "Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and your cup of joy will overflow" (John 16:24 TLB).
What's the smartest advice you ever received for handling money?
It's 1880. She's got to escape. He's into revenge. It's a long, cramped train ride from Omaha to Sacramento. . .and something evil's on board. Will they put aside their hostility long enough to throw the devil off the train?