Several years ago, my wife and I visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. How impressive is this estate. From the time you drive through the gates and along the miles of driveway you are impressed with the tasteful manner in which are things are done. Despite the throngs of tourists, there is an air of civility throughout the house and grounds. What a vision George W. Vanderbilt had. The cost of this magnificent estate, which at one time included what is now Mt. Pisgah National Forest, is unimaginable in todayís depreciated dollars.
The estate is still in private hands, but it is not in Vanderbilt hands. The Vanderbilt fortune was created by Cornelius Vanderbilt, the grandfather of George W. Vanderbilt. The fortune was built through whatever means or method necessary. The children of Cornelius, with one or two exceptions, used their wealth to compete with each other and New York society to see who could build the most magnificent home(s). Little of the great fortune was used to glorify God or to help those in need. Possibly, the most visible remnant of the Vanderbilt fortune, besides the Biltmore Estate, is Vanderbilt University.
The Biltmore Estate is owned by a descendant of William Cecil, who was the chief minister of Queen Elizabeth I. Today, he would have been Prime Minister. Although they were influential, and therefore wealthy, William Cecil and his son, Robert, used their abilities and fortune in the service of their country and their people. At one time, during an argument in the privy council, William Cecil pulled out his copy of The Psalms which he carried on his person, and used it as the final authority for his argument. And he was proven correct.
I believe there is a lesson here. Quite simply, if you honor God, He will honor you. This is a theme found throughout the Bible. We can see it in individuals, families, nations and even in churches. If a church looks only inward and uses its funds only to expand its facilities and pay its minister more, it will not grow. Growing churches are churches that look outward. They support missions and Bible colleges and help the community around them. As I have noted before, you cannot outgive the Lord.
Everything about the Biltmore Estate is done with taste and quiet dignity, with the possible exception of the tour of the winery, during which they tout their wines. Pat and I discussed how nice it would be to work in such lovely and tasteful surroundings. Being accountants, we could work in the administrative offices, or maybe help in the beautiful gardens.
This reminded us of the Lordís great Estate, in which all Christians will take part. I would be pleased to tend the Lordís Garden. If the Biltmore Estate is magnificent and tasteful here on earth, how much more wonderful will the Lordís Estate be in that new Heaven and new Earth promised in the twenty-first chapter of the Revelation. Come Lord Jesus! Maranatha!