An ancient Persian legend is told of a wealthy farmer named Al Hafed who owned a very large farm with orchards, grain fields and gardens. He was not only a wealthy man but he was a happy and contented man. His happiness and contentment, however, ended when he was visited one day by a Buddhist priest. The priest told him precisely how the world was made. He said that in the process of creation while the earth's crust was cooling down through condensation, the flames from the bowels of the earth burst forth upon the cooling crust forming mountains, hills, and valleys. If this internal melted mass cooled very quickly, continued the priest, it became granite, that which cooled less quickly became silver, and less quickly, gold, and after gold diamonds were made.
The old priest said, "A diamond is a congealed drop of sunlight" which is really correct because diamond is pure carbon which, in essence, is deposited sunlight. He also told Al Hafed that "if he had a handful of diamonds he could purchase a whole country, and with a mine of diamonds he could place his children upon thrones through the influence of their great wealth."
Al Hafed heard all about diamonds and how much they were worth, and went to his bed that night a poor man, not that he had lost anything, but poor because he was now discontented with his lot and believed himself to be poor. He said: "I want a mine of diamonds!" So he lay awake all night thinking about diamonds, and early in the morning sought out the priest to find where he could find the precious diamonds.
"Well," said the priest, "if you will find a river that runs over white sands between high mountains, in those sands you will always see diamonds."
Al Hafed asked: "Do you really believe that there is such a river?"
"Plenty of them, plenty of them" responded the priest, "all you have to do is just go and find them, then you have them."
Al Hafed said, "I will go."
So he sold his prosperous farm, collected his money at interest, left his family in charge of a neighbor, and away he went in search of diamonds. First, he went into Palestine, then traveled all through Europe, and at last, when his money was all spent, and he was in rags, wretchedness and poverty, he stood on the shore of a bay in Barcelona, Spain, and committed suicide by casting himself into the sea.
One day, Al Hafed's successor, the one to whom Al Hafed sold his farm to, led his camel out into the garden to drink, and as that camel put its nose down into the clear water of the garden brook he noticed a curious flash of light from the sands of the shallow stream, and reaching in he pulled out a black stone having an eye of light that reflected all the colors of the rainbow, and he took that curious pebble into the house and left it on the mantel, then went on his way and forgot all about it.
A few days after that, this same old Buddhist priest who had told Al Hafed how diamonds were made, came in to visit Al Hafed's successor. When he saw that flash of light from the mantel, he rushed up and said, "Here is a diamond; here is a diamond! Has Al Hafed returned?"
"No, no," responded Al Hafed's successor, "Al Hafed has not returned and that is not a diamond; that is nothing but a stone; we found it right out here in our garden."
"But I know a diamond when I see it," said the priest, "that is a diamond!"
Then together they rushed to the garden and stirred up the white sands with their fingers and found others more beautiful, more valuable diamonds than the first, and thus were discovered the diamond mines of Golconda, the most magnificent diamond mines in all the history of mankind, exceeding the Kimberley in its value. The great Kohinoor diamond in England's crown jewels and the largest crown diamond on earth in Russia's crown jewels came from that mine. --Acres of Diamonds by Russell H. Conwell.
Poor Al Hafed had spent his life traveling to distant lands seeking jewels when on the farm he left behind were all the precious stones his heart could have desired.
What can we learn from this ancient legend? Two enduring principles of right living were not heeded by Al Hafed. "Thou shalt not covet", a principle from the moral law of God, would have kept him from the dire predicament he got himself into. The other principle is found in Hebrews 13:5. "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
Many hard trials would have been prevented had we paid heed to the admonitions from the Word of God. Covetousness causes discontentment and unhappiness in many a lives.
Those who live for a purpose, seeking to benefit and bless their fellow men and to honor and glorify their Redeemer are the truly happy ones on the earth, while the man who is restless, discontented, and seeking this and testing that, hoping to find happiness, is always complaining of disappointment. He is always in want, never satisfied, because he lives for himself alone. Let it be your aim to do good, to act your part in life faithfully. --Our High Calling, page 242.
"Our Saviour frequently and earnestly rebuked this very sin. 'And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought within himself, saying, what shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.'
"Our Redeemer, who knew man's danger in regard to covetousness, has provided a safeguard against this dreadful evil. He has arranged the plan of salvation so that it begins and ends in benevolence. Christ offered himself, an infinite sacrifice. This, in and of itself, bears directly against covetousness and exalts benevolence.
"Constant, self-denying benevolence is God's remedy for the cankering sins of selfishness and covetousness. God has arranged systematic benevolence to sustain his cause and relieve the necessities of the suffering and needy. He has ordained that giving should become a habit, that it may counteract the dangerous and deceitful sin of covetousness. Continual giving starves covetousness to death. Systematic benevolence is designed in the order of God to tear away treasures from the covetous as fast as they are gained, and to consecrate them to the Lord, to whom they belong.
"The word of God has much to say in regard to sacrificing. Riches are from the Lord, and belong to him. 'Both riches and honor come of thee.' 'The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.' 'For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.' 'The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.' It is the Lord thy God that giveth thee power to get wealth.
"Riches are in themselves transient and unsatisfying. We are warned not to trust in uncertain riches. 'Riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away.' 'Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.'
"Riches bring no relief in man's greatest distress. 'Riches profit not in the day of wrath.' 'Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath.' 'Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke; then a great ransom cannot deliver thee." Testimonies to the Church, page 544.
The story is told that when the steamer Central America, with nearly six hundred passengers aboard, was wrecked off Cape Hatteras, September 12, 1857, in a fearful storm, many of the passengers who were returning miners from the gold mines of California divested themselves of their treasure belts and scattered the gold upon the cabin floor, telling those to take it who would, lest its weight about their persons should carry them to their death. Full purses, containing in some instances thousands of dollars, lay around untouched. Carpetbags were opened, and the shining metal was poured out on the floor with the prodigality of death's despair. One of the passengers opened a bag and dashed about the cabin twenty thousand dollars in gold dust, and told him who wanted to gratify his greed for gold to take it. But it was passed by untouched, as the veriest dross. --Bible Readings for the Home, pages 642, 643.
Contentment - How illusive it seems to us in this modern age of prosperity and materialism. Oh, that we would know what it's like to have peace and contentment in our hearts. The Apostle Paul gave this admonition to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6-10: "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
Oh, how we need to learn from the experience of the Apostle Paul: "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11. And in Luke 3:14, last part, we find these words: "...and be content with your wages." Discontentment makes rich men poor as was the case of Al Hafed in the Persian legend, while contentment makes poor men rich. Are we contented with our wages? Have we learned to be contented and happy in whatever state we find ourselves in?
Happiness is something you create in your mind,
Not something you search for but can't seem to find,
Not something that's purchased with silver or gold,
Not something that force can capture and hold.
It's just waking up and beginning each day
By counting your blessings and kneeling to pray.
It's giving up thoughts that breed discontent
And accepting what comes as a gift heaven-sent.
It's giving up wishing for things you have not
And making the best of whatever you've got.
It's knowing that life is determined and planned
And God holds the world in the palm of His hand.
And it's by completing what God gives you to do
That you find contentment and happiness, too.
--Helen Steiner Rice