Leo Tolstoy once wrote a story about a successful peasant farmer who was not satisfied
with his lot. He wanted more of everything. One day he received a novel offer. For 1000
rubles, he could buy all the land he could walk around in a day. The only catch in the
deal was that he had to be back at his starting point by sundown. Early the next morning
he started out walking at a fast pace. By midday he was very tired, but he kept going,
covering more and more ground. Well into the afternoon he realized that his greed had
taken him far from the starting point. He quickened his pace and as the sun began to sink
low in the sky, he began to run, knowing that if he did not make it back by sundown the
opportunity to become an even bigger landholder would be lost. As the sun began to sink
below the horizon he came within sight of the finish line. Gasping for breath, his heart
pounding, he called upon every bit of strength left in his body and staggered across the
line just before the sun disappeared. He immediately collapsed, blood streaming from his
mouth. In a few minutes he was dead. Afterwards, his servants dug a grave. It was not much
over six feet long and three feet wide. The title of Tolstoy's story was: How Much Land
Does a Man Need?
Bits & Pieces, November, 1991.
Greed is the logical result of the belief that there is no life after death. We grab
what we can while we can however we can and then hold on to it hard.
Sir Fred Catherwood, Evangelicals Now, September, 1994.
Men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals
to catch is the ringtailed monkey. For the Zulus of that continent, however, it's simple.
They've been catching this agile little animal with ease for years. The method the Zulus
use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing
on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus
simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to
reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can,
then start to withdraw it. This he cannot do. His fist is now larger than the hole. The
monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can't get free of
the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak
up and nab him.
Bibliographic Reference is Uncertain: Charles Swindoll, Living
Above the Level of Mediocrity, p.150ff.
She owns a string of hotels. She owns the Empire State Building. She is a billionaire.
Yet, in September 1989 Leona Mindy Rosenthal Helmsley was convicted of 33 counts of tax
evasion, for which she spent time in prison. According to Time magazine, she emerged as a
penny-pinching tyrant who tried to stiff just about everybody. No amount of money was too
small to fight over. After the sudden death of her only son at age 40 in 1982, she sued
and won the lion's share of his estate, $149,000, leaving his four children with $432 each
and his widow with $2,171.
Statistics and Research
What are you willing to do for $10,000,000? Two-thirds of Americans polled would agree
to at least one, some to several of the following:
Would abandon their entire family (25%)
Would abandon their church (25%)
Would become prostitutes for a week or more (23%)
Would give up their American citizenships (16%)
Would leave their spouses (16%)
Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free (10%)
Would kill a stranger (7%)
Would put their children up for adoption (3%)
James Patterson and Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth,