When you hear the name “Walt Disney”, what imagery comes to mind? Growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I think of family, fun, goodness, Disney World/Land, and Mickey Mouse.
Walt Disney died in 1966 and left his financial fortune to his heirs. His two daughters, Diane and Sharon, were recipients of the inheritance. Apparently some of the money was put into a trust for all of Disney’s grandchildren. The trust was an estimated value of $400 million. Each of the grandchildren would receive 20 percent at ages 35, 40 and 45 as long as the trustees believed they were financially capable of managing the money.
Two of the grandchildren, who are now in their early 40s, and their extended families are in a battle for the money, according to www.hollywoodreporter.com. Reading the account is like a soap opera of deceit, accusations, and greed. It is very obvious that the love of money is at play here.
1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” No wonder Jesus said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24)
It is easy to automatically say something like “Money is causing this trouble!” However, is this completely accurate? Is it not the love of money and greed that is causing people who once loved each other to turn on one another? Is it not more accurate to place the blame on the individuals who are valuing money as greater than personal relationships and how God would want them to treat one another?
Proverbs 20:21 says, “An inheritance gained too soon will not be blessed at the end.” The writer of this proverb seems to be assuming that time and experience will prepare someone to receive a vast fortune. While completely true, other biblical principles of love, selfishness and caring for others apply, too.
While you and I may not be in line to receive the next great fortune, how are we doing with the small things we do possess? Do we acknowledge that all we have really belongs to God and it is his to do with as he pleases? Do we place relationships above money? Are we committed to rejecting the temptation of desiring to get rich and, instead, do we see money as a tool that God wants to use to bless others?
Having only been born two years after his death, I did not know Walt Disney, but after reading his biography recently, I believe he would be very disappointed in what is going in his family. While we cannot assure what our heirs will do after we leave this earth, we can certainly work hard to invest in our family members the spiritual riches that can only be found in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)
William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at OneMaster.org.