From Thrifty To Lavish

January 10, 2019
Volume 23, Number 2

An $11 million bequest from WHO? Alan Naiman? Wasn’t he the fellow who used duct tape to repair his shoes? Who always drove old cars? Whose idea of taking good friends to lunch meant going to a fast food restaurant? Yes, that Alan Naiman. After his death from cancer almost a year ago at age 63 the news came out: Most of his estate is going to children’s charities.

Alan was once a banker, but for the last two decades he served as a social worker for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. A brother who suffered from developmental disabilities is thought to have been his inspiration. Alan never married and had no children, but helping children was his passion.

By working his $67,000 per year job and some side jobs, by living simply and investing his money, and through inheriting money from his parents’ estate, Alan became a wealthy man – though his lifestyle never suggested that fact. After his passing, though, the ripples from his generosity continue to reach outward.

The article that introduced me to this remarkable man said nothing about a religious mindset. But Alan’s values were very much what Scripture recommends: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” (Ephesians 4:28).

Alan could have indulged himself with the money he accumulated. I saw a report just this morning of one very rich man who has purchased an amazing boat for himself, one that might more easily fit the definition of a ship. But Alan Naiman passed on pleasures for himself in order to leave resources that would meet the needs of children.

You and I may not have millions, but we are nonetheless wealthy by the world’s standards. What do we do with that wealth? Is it all for me? Or should I regard it as a resource that can bring blessings to others?

Paul had inspired advice on how to handle riches: “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:17,18).

There’s a secret that relatively few seem to know, though it is found in tens of millions of Bibles all over the world: “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). Giving is a blessing!

What an example Alan Naiman has left! By living simply he was able to bless many.

Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.


Copyright, 2019, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

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