BY: BON JIN KOO
Mr. Simmons, what is your view on money? Can an individual with much wealth further God’s kingdom?”
“Those are interesting questions, Professor Lee,” I said.
I stared at the hundreds of eyes staring right back at me in this stuffy college auditorium. I volunteered to be here last minute, but honestly, I did not want to be here. My initial discomfort in coming as a guest speaker had worsened when the professor had told me the air conditioning had not been working.
“Well, nearly anything can be used to glorify God’s kingdom, Professor,” I explained. “Money can be used correctly in the right hands. The local church can gain resources to reach out to others more effectively. Rehabilitation centers for human trafficking victims can be built. Missionaries can be provided with necessary provisions.”
The professor looked dissatisfied.
“I was looking for more of a personal answer, Mr. Simmons.”
I shifted my eyes away from the professor’s awkward gaze and looked toward the audience instead. I tried looking for a familiar face, a piece of clothing, anything that could remind me of some impressive story. Nothing.
“I… think Christians should… aspire to wealth actually, as controversial as that sounds,” I said.
“Why do you think so?”
“Well, with money you have the power to move people, influence power, and a number of other… things that could provide benefit to the kingdom,” I said hesitantly.
The professor smiled.
“I’m thinking of a man who has the potential to make millions. Would it be right for him to fulfill that potential or not?”
“Of course he should fulfill that potential!” I said, slightly annoyed at the professor’s grin. “God would want him to use that money for His glory!”
“Yes, I completely agree.”
“But let’s consider the alternative: What if the man did not fulfill his potential to attain that massive amount of wealth?”
“Er… that would be such a waste,” I answered.
“Would it really?” Professor Lee whispered.
The bell tower struck its mighty bellow throughout the campus before I could react. Students bustled about to leave the auditorium. I approached the professor, curious at what he had said earlier.
“Professor Lee, a word?”
“I am no master of theology,” I said bluntly. “Why did you invite me to speak here?”
“Do you feel insulted in any way?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. And you didn’t answer my question.”
“To thank you, Mr. Simmons.”
“I invited you here to thank you,” Professor Lee said.
“That was the most elaborate and confusing ‘thank you’ I’ve ever experienced.”
“Let me explain,” Professor Lee chuckled.
The professor pulled out my business card. I designed it myself; Matthew 7:7 was embossed in the center of the card.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,” Professor Lee read. “Fancy the ESV, I see.”
“So you noticed my favorite verse,” I said.
“Why that verse?” Professor Lee asked.
“It serves as a constant reminder to me, Professor,” I explained. “The only reason I am here today is because I asked God to help me countless times. So one day I decided to return the favor.”
“In the board meeting that marked the one year anniversary of my company, I found out that we were drastically below fiscal expectations,” I said. “But I still thanked God for taking me this far. When Gravian College asked for a donation for their scholarship program, I happily gave the amount God willed me to give.”
“Was it the Guardian of Truth Scholarship?” Professor Lee asked.
“As a matter of fact, it was – how did you know?”
The professor extracted a small medal from his coat pocket. The circular piece of metal still had a magnificent bronze luster just like a brand new penny that was barely used. My eyes widened when I saw the words engraved into the medal.
“I was smart but from a poor family, so getting into college wasn’t the problem,” Professor Lee whispered. “Paying for it was.”
The professor smiled.
“The man I described earlier in lecture… that man was you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You indeed fulfilled your potential to achieve the wealth you have today, and because of that, I stand here as well.”
“But what if I hadn’t? Wouldn’t that have been such a waste?”
“No, it would not,” Professor Lee replied. “I believe you still would have been a great man of God. Remember Mr. Simmons, one’s potential to gain a lot of money does not make him any less precious to the Father.”
The professor tucked the business card and the medal away. There he goes, smiling again! I was going mad; why does he smile like that?
“Professor, what is so funny?” I burst out. “I don’t want to be rude, but that smile of yours has been bothering me.”
“My tuition for my years at college added up to about $400,000,” Professor Lee chuckled. “$416,344 to be exact. Guess how much the scholarship granted me.”
“$416,344 and twenty-five cents,” Professor Lee said. “And I must say, if that extra quarter doesn’t merit a ‘Here I am’ from God then I don’t know what does.”
The three of them roared with laughter.