For awhile one fall I was taking an evening upgrading class with about twenty others. We had an interesting teacher; he was a sincere young man who had some understanding of spiritual things and I felt a certain rapport with him.
One evening he said he was going to tell us a joke, so we all listened up as he related the following fable:
A very wealthy man, getting close to the end of his life, just couldn’t bear to leave all his money behind. He pleaded with God to allow him to take some of his money along to Heaven. God’s initial answer was “No,” but the old man begged so much that the Lord finally relented and said, “Okay. You can bring just one suitcase.”
So the miser rushed off to the bank, had his stocks and bonds sold and used that money to buy gold bars. He packed them carefully in a large suitcase, taking as much as absolutely possible. When the Death Angel called for him, he was ready; he grabbed his suitcase and away they went.
When he got to the Pearly Gates St. Peter told him, “You’re not allowed to bring anything from your earthly life in here.”
“I’ve talked it all over with God and He told me I could bring along this one suitcase.”
“Well, what’s in it?” St. Peter asked.
The man opened it up to show him all the lovely gold bars.
St. Peter was puzzled. “You brought pavement?”
The punch line connected immediately in my mind and I laughed right on cue– but I was the only one in the whole room who did. (Now that feels odd!) Everyone else sat there clueless and silent as stones.
The teacher explained his “joke” to the class; he told them the streets of Heaven are paved with gold, so the miser had only brought more pavement, which didn’t make sense at all to St. Peter. Some of my classmates finally smiled, but a joke that has to be explained has lost its “funny”.
Some other thought-provoking quotes on riches and laying up treasure in Heaven:
“When we kneel in prayer and ask God to meet the needs of our fellow human beings, we must also ask Him to deliver us from the selfishness which expends our means upon ourselves.”
“Wanting less is sometimes greater riches than having more.”
“Giving is not just a way of raising money. It is God’s way of raising men.”
“You can’t take your money to heaven, but you can send it on ahead.”