[UPDATE: Please see corrections provided by Julio A. Ledesma in his comments below.]
Yesterday I attended a talk by Jules Ledesma at the University of St. La Salle on Entrepreneurship.
Jules is a former congressman, a billionaire, and presently the highest-paying taxpayer in the country. His is a very interesting life. He was born heir to three inheritances: to his father’s estate and the estates of two aunts who remained single all their lives. He owns not hundreds but thousands of hectares of land. His annual net income is around 220 million pesos. All this is a matter of public knowledge, so I’m not divulging confidential information in writing this. When he told the audience, “I am wealthy,” he wasn’t bragging; he was simply stating an objective fact. The man has more money than I will ever make in multiple lifetimes!
One thing that impressed me about him was his sense of stewardship. He said that when he was five years old his aunt showed him the vast expanse of land that he was to inherit someday, and she told him, “You will have to take care of all this.” He had his life’s task mapped out for him, and he proceeded to do exactly what his aunt asked: take care of the land of which he was designated steward from birth!
He said a lot of things that inspired me, which if I put it all in here would make this article a very long read. But to cut to the chase, near the end of his talk came the clincher which made me open my eyes and my mouth wide: He and his wife were donating 1.8 billion pesos to charity! And he explained why: Because he believed in God, and because of the story of the rich young ruler. He was of course referring to the rich young ruler in the New Testament who came to Jesus asking, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told him, “Sell all you have and give to the poor, and come follow me.” Upon hearing this the rich young ruler turned away, leading Jesus to say, “It is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.”
It was a surprise to hear billionaire Jules Ledesma mention the story of the rich young ruler as that which motivated him to give away almost 2 billion pesos to charity. But I understand where he is coming from. He knows that at the end of the day money isn’t everything. He won’t be taking his billions with him when the time comes for him to leave this world.
This morning Pastor Jake Quinosa preached at Ikthus East. And guess what? His message was about the rich young ruler! Yes, the rich young ruler whom Jules Ledesma mentioned in his talk, the young man who had everything, but who in the end lost everything because he could not give up all that he had for the sake of having Him who is worth more than anything this world can offer.
The rich young ruler tried to hold on to what he had and thereby lost everything: he lost his soul. He did not understand what the apostle Paul knew, that giving up everything for Christ is worth it. “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…” (Philippians 3:7,8).
Jim Elliot, the famous missionary who was killed in Ecuador by the very people he was trying to minister to, once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Unlike Jules Ledesma, we might not have any billions to give, but we do have the life God has given us. Let’s offer this back to him.