It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” – Matthew 19:24

So what does a rich man have to say when he owns an enormous amount of wealth?

philip-ngA few days ago, I had the privilege to attend the breakfast meeting with one of the richest man in Singapore, Philip Ng, CEO of Far East Organization. According to Forbes, the net worth of Philip and his brother Robert Ng is $12.8 Billion.

When you think about someone having that kind of wealth, you may imagine a man with the aura of self-sufficiency, a man with everyone’s attention, a man who is too confident and proud to acknowledge anyone, a man with borderline arrogance that comes from money. Well, I’ve seen many new rich like that, but that is NOT Philip.

He was calm and humble. I don’t feel any distance when shaking his hand, he is just like an old friend.

Many may have expected to hear the secrets of building business and amassing wealth. After all, what else does the rich care except money? But Philip talked about God and faith. Even if I am a free thinker, I cannot help being inspired by his speech.

He quoted one of the stories from the Bible. When a rich man asked Jesus, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied,

‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.”

“Teacher,” the man declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At these words the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Philip went on saying, “The ironic thing about possession is that you don’t possess the possessions, the possessions possess you.” I totally agree. We all know that we were not born with money and we cannot bring money away when we leave, yet it is so hard to let go of what we think we own.

We think we own the house we stay but it will worth nothing once the lease expires; we think we own the nice car downstairs but it will just become a scrap of metal once the COE expires; we think we own the nice Rolex watch on the table and the Prada bag on the sofa, but we all know one day nobody will touch them anymore.

The truth is, we own nothing, we are just renting them for the usage, we are holding the assets in trust.

So if you got this point, I think we will do a lot of things the right way. I am not saying we should not pursue wealth. In fact, we should, and with greater desire! But we do it with good objectives and goals.

Martin Luther King said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

That may sound too holly or too far. But shouldn’t it be time for us to re-think about why we make money, why we want wealth?

If you were a billionaire, what will you do? Tell me by leaving comments below.

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About the Author

Ivan Guan is the author of the popular book "FIRE Your Retirement". He is an independent financial adviser with more than a decade of knowledge and experience in providing financial advisory services to both individuals and businesses. He specializes in investment planning and portfolio management for early retirement. His blog provides practical financial tips, strategies and resources to help people achieve financial freedom. Follow his Telegram Channel to join the FIRE community.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This does not reflect the official position of any agency, organization, employer or company. Refer to full disclaimers here.

  • Nice one, I was touched when I had gone through this article. Philip your words have taken me out of this world for a while. You proved that being rich is not all about name and fame, enjoying luxuries, having greed, a man with arrogance but its all about humanity. “I see humans everyday but i rarely see humanity”.

  • I would like to be Kingdom builder which means i will give money for Gospel of LORD JESUS CHRIST missionary to expand the territory in rivers and oceans of the GOD of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob . Give money to orphanage, widow and the poor people. Support & give some Pastor who is active in souls winning to LORD JESUS. Manage this money with spiritual purposes after all when the time will come at old age i depart in this planet earth in will appear to LORD JESUS i done my purpose in life here on earth.

  • II am happy to see this article and yet wondering of how would Ng Philip serve Jesus with all his wealth and responsibilities to make more money. Of course it applies to us too

    • So has Mr Ng followed up on his quote of script regarding the RICH YOUNG RULER of Mark 10:17-22 .. or was he just quoting?.. I can say that my wife, children and I did exactly that (however we weren’t rich) but we sold all we had and gave to the poor of the Philippines and taught them Jesus Doctrine for 12 months day and night without ceasing and returned to Australia penniless, yet still INFINITELY RICH. Yes, we stored our treasure in Heaven and the Souls that were touched in the 12 months we Ministered there were worth multiple times more than our car, possessions, treasures and cash .. Glory Halleluyah!!!.. LUKE 17:10.

  • If I Have A Billion Dollars, SGD? I Will Build A “Temple Of Nature” To Remind Homo Sapiens, Believed To Be At The “Top Of The Food Chain” To Learn From All Other Things, Living Or Otherwise, On Our Only GAIA And Survive In Harmony.

  • If Philip Ng would tell us how he intends to use his ‘excessive’ wealth to bless others, to extend the kingdom of God, we would surely learn much from him & be much blessed

  • I wonder if Jesus comes back next week, and the world ends, how am I going to account for the money that was in my possession but not used for the needy, the poor, spreading the gospel of eternal life ?

  • Thankfully for Mr Phillip, God was gracious enough to allow this rich man to enter His kingdom. That’s the power of grace. You ought to experience it for yourself Ivan. From reading your write up here, something tells me you’re not far from the kingdom yourself. I just read Mr Ng’s testimony in a book and he related his conversion as standing at the edge of a crossing and he was able to see a bridge.

    The pivotal moment is choosing to cross it. Do you admire a bridge from afar when you come to such a crossing, or will you step onto it? Taking that step forward requires something called faith really because you would hardly know the identity, the credentials or character of the one who built it. Yet we do it everyday in our daily lives without thinking.

    There’s a bridge into the kingdom which really matters in your life, and His name is Jesus. The question is, will you have the faith to step out and cross over?


    • Joshua,

      You have well said. If you don’t even test a chair before sitting on it, such simple faith is enough to also trust Jesus our only bridge of eternal salvation.


  • Secret : when person become rich n comes to stage when he realize that money is everything in life and desire to give back to community??? Think why they want to give back to society. Why at this stage.?
    I feel they have realize true meaning of life.
    But we can start giving now back to community ..may be your talent,time,wealth in whatever form area.

  • God’s teaching is great, workable & powerful. Jesus unlike any other God in tis world. He is the one & only GOD that we must seek & trust. He loves each & everyone of us despite who we are & what we do. He teaches about LOVE…love conquers everything.
    GOD bless!

  • I have heard from friend who attended the event last weekend, that Phillip Ng’s speech was inspiring. It’s heartening to hear that Mr Ng is a humble and yet spiritual man. Singaporeans have lots to learn from this man.

  • I will promote vegan life and build a park for the strays with caretakers looking after the strays. I will buy over zoos and send the animals back to the wild.

  • Money is not everything but unfortunately everything need money. When I am a billionaire all my wants will turn to needs so I won’t know what to do until I have it.

  • Firstly, love God! Secondly, love everyone around you. If you can’t do both just don’t hurt anyone:) God love u

  • First and foremost, thanks you Sir for being such a humble guy. Just a couple of days ago, my colleagues and I went to FNA Group of Companies, in particular The Cocoa Trees and met with the Executive Director Mrs Loo. With over hundreds of millions of dollars turnover, shes such a humble lady and I’m so awed by her! I’m glad there are people who are rich and yet very humble, giving back to the community in whatever ways they can. They may not be giving up their wealth per say, but they have done their part.
    Seriously, if I should ever have a billion dollar, first and foremost, I would like both my parents have a good life. Even after over 20 years of working, I am still not able to provide for them and that makes me very sad. Secondly, to provide education for the needy. Education is important. Without education, it is difficult for you to move forward.

  • There is a saying ” if u r among the luckiest 1% , you owe something to the 99% of humanity”
    Also someone said. ..”money is not everything but u got to earn it before saying all this crap”;)

    So please tranfer the money and I can give u complete details on wat I ll do with it 🙂

  • I will create charity only business.
    Hire dedicated staff who were lowly paid and pay them well enough to have a decent life + a little excess.
    Then yearly profits are to be given to charity leaving only 20%. this 20% is use to create another business and the cycle goes on.
    This way, there will be less people with low income. More jobs are created. As well as charities getting a regular donations from the businesses.
    If only I have a million.

  • Religion aside, It is easy to preach with a full tummy and loaded pocket. for every excess the wealthy indulge in there is someone who goes without.

  • Jesus also said, ‘to those given much, much is also required of them’–so it is appropriate for a billionaire like Philip Ng to ask the Lord what he can do with the vast wealth entrusted to him.
    What good can he do for those who are needy, even within Singapore are many needy folks, when a helping hand can make a great deal of difference. Doing good for the needy is a Christian’s way of saying to everyone/anyone that God is kind, good, generous and remembers those who have been given little of the world’s goods. Earning the right to share the good news Jesus brought is crucial.

  • “Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

    I wonder what is Philip Ng thinking when he was citing this quote from bible. Is he thinking of giving up his wealth to the poor and follow Jesus? or he is like that man in the story who couldn’t bear to part his wealth because he also has great wealth?

  • I will use the money to explore new worlds (planets)… Make sure that peace is bought. Famine is a past. Diseases are cured.

  • I’d tell people about God and faith, and tell them that money is not important, that it is temporal, and it is more important to be good than rich. I hope the irony doesn’t escape you.

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