Treasures in Heaven
Paul told Timothy to “instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Brother R.W. Comer was a man who took Paul’s instructions to heart and his determination to lay up his treasures in heaven serves as an excellent example for us all.
R.W. Comer was born in 1860 in Gamaliel, Kentucky, educated in the public schools there, and attended Burritt College in Spencer, Tennessee. After owning and operating several family businesses in Gamaliel and Glasgow Kentucky, brother Comer moved to Nashville Tennessee and founded Washington Manufacturing Co., in 1914. Washington Manufacturing was an apparel manufacturer best known for its DeeCee work clothing that eventually employed more than 20,000 workers in more than two dozen factories across the south.
Brother Comer served as an elder at the Russell Street church before helping to start the Chapel Avenue church. He served on the board of directors of David Lipscomb College for 12 years and donated $200,000 to Freed-Hardeman College.
In 1936, at the age of 76, R.W. Comer and his two sons formed a trust. The purpose of that trust was to A) provide income for his children and grandchildren during their lifetimes, B) provide for nieces, nephews and employees of Washington Manufacturing Co. who became physically or mentally unable to work and who were in dire need. All Class A and Class B beneficiaries were appropriately cared for and those obligations have been met.
The Trust was designed with Class C beneficiaries defined as churches and other institutions which, in the judgment of the Trustee, have been “loyal to the church of Christ”, located in either Kentucky or Tennessee. In the minds of the Comers in 1936, loyal to the church of Christ would have meant singing only without the use of musical instruments. Because that was their understanding at the time the Trust was created, that was the criteria used by the Trustee in dispersing the remaining 35 million dollars in the Trust. As a result, every a cappella church of Christ in the states of Kentucky and Tennessee is receiving from the Comer family, $15,000 without regard to congregation size. It is as if brother Comer were still alive, visited with us and chose to contribute that money to West Murray’s work. We don’t solicit funds from any other than West Murray members, but the Scriptures suggest no such restrictions.
Our main focus will be evangelism as we work together to find ways to put these funds to good use.
Paul wrote, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us” (Philippians 3:17). Brother Comer has left us an excellent example of dedication to Christ’s cause and generosity, in life and in death. His devotion to the Lord was personal; he viewed the material blessings with which he was entrusted as resources to alleviate the adversity in the lives of others and to further the cause of Christ.
Consideration of a life well-lived should spur each of us to continue to put Christ first in our hearts and lives and to use our time and resources, whether great or small, in service to God and to others.