John G. Wendel and his sisters were some of the most miserly people of all time.
Although they had received a huge inheritance from their parents, they spent very little
of it and did all they could to keep their wealth for themselves.
John was able to influence five of his six sisters never to marry, and they lived in
the same house in New York City for 50 years. When the last sister died in 1931, her
estate was valued at more than $100 million. Her only dress was one that she had made
herself, and she had worn it for 25 years.
The Wendels had such a compulsion to hold on to their possessions that they lived like
paupers. Even worse, they were like the kind of person Jesus referred to "who lays up
treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:21).
Daily Walk, June 2, 1993.
John D. Rockefeller's three simple rules for anyone who wants to become rich:
1. Go to work early. 2. Stay at work late. 3. Find oil.
How rich is rich? According to a survey of people who ought to know, the answer is $1 million to $5 million in assets.
Investment managers Neuberger & Bergman sponsored the survey of people who stand to give or receive inheritances (median
household assets: $500,000). Paradoxically, 55% of those whose assets ranged from $1 million to $5 million don't consider
USA Today, November 11, 1991, D1.
I have been re-reading the record of the Rich Young Ruler and his obviously wrong choice. But it has set me thinking.
No matter how much wealth he had, he could not-- ride in a car, have any surgery,
turn on a light, buy penicillin, hear a pipe organ, watch TV, wash dishes in running water,
type a letter, mow a lawn, fly in an airplane, sleep on an innerspring mattress,
or talk on the phone,
If he was rich, then what am I?
P. Brand, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, p. 61.
From the standpoint of material wealth, Americans have difficulty
realizing how rich we are. Going through a little mental exercise suggested by Robert Heilbroner can help us to count our
blessings, however. Imagine doing the following, and you will see how daily life is for as many as a billion people in the
1. Take out all the furniture in your home except for one table and a couple of chairs. Use blanket and pads for
2. Take away all of your clothing except for your oldest dress or suit, shirt or blouse. Leave only one pair of
3. Empty the pantry and the refrigerator except for a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt, a few
potatoes, some onions, and a dish of dried beans.
4. Dismantle the bathroom, shut off the running water, and remove all the electrical wiring in your house.
5. Take away the house itself and move the family into the tool shed.
6. Place your "house' in a shantytown.
7. Cancel all subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and book clubs. This is no great loss because now none of
you can read anyway.
8. Leave only one radio for the whole shantytown.
9. Move the nearest hospital or clinic ten miles away and put a midwife in charge instead of a doctor.
10. Throw away your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, and insurance policies. Leave the family a cash
hoard of ten dollars.
11. Give the head of the family a few acres to cultivate on which he can raise a few hundred dollars of cash crops,
of which one third will go to the landlord and one tenth to the money lenders.
12. Lop off twenty-five or more years in life expectancy.
By comparison how rich we are! And with our wealth comes responsibility to use it wisely, not to be wasteful, and to help
others. Think on these things.
Measure wealth not by the things you have, but by the things you have for which you would not take money.
Perhaps the most famous gold strike in American history occurred in January 1848 when a man named John Marshall found gold at
Sutter's Mill in northern California. The find set off a gold rush that reached a frenzied pitch and even attracted prospectors
from Europe--but it ruined Marshall and John Stutter, the man who owned the land where gold lay for the taking. Sutter's land was
overrun by gold seekers, his cattle were stolen, and he was driven into bankruptcy. Marshall died drunken and penniless.
Today in the Word, June, 1990, p. 16.
If thou art rich, thou art poor, for like an ass whose back with ingots bows, thou bearest thy heavy riches but a journey, and
death unloads thee.
The difference between playing the stock market and the horses is that one of the horses must win.