There are some people in this world who are unbelievably stingy with their money. They are ungenerous penny pinchers who hoard their money. One such person was Hetty Green. She was 30 years old when her father died in 1864 and left her a staggering $7.5 million in assets. Later her aunt passed away and left $2 million to charity. When Hetty learned this, she challenged her aunt’s written will and went to court with documents claiming the money should go to her. The documents turned out to be forgeries. When Hetty was engaged to be married she made her fiancé give up all rights to her money before she would say, “I do.”
Hetty Green soon became notorious for her stinginess and was even given the nickname, “The Witch of Wall Street.” Many tales and rumors began surfacing about her greedy ways. Some of these rumors include never turning on the heat, never using hot water, eating cold oatmeal because she wouldn’t spend the money to warm it, and wearing one dress until it was completely worn out. There are accounts of Hetty traveling by herself for thousands of miles to collect a debt of a few hundred dollars. Worst of all, there is a documented case about her son when he broke his leg. In order to save money, Hetty tried to have him admitted to a free clinic for the poor. The clinic turned them away when they found out about Hetty and her riches. Her son’s leg eventually had to be amputated. For many years the Guinness Book of World Records even gave her the title, “World’s Greatest Miser” (Miser = “Wealth hoarder”).
Hetty had increased, hoarded, and pinched so many pennies in her life that when she died her estate was worth an estimated $200 million. This is equivalent to about $3.8 billion by today’s standards. This made her arguably the richest woman in the world at the time.
Many today are stingy with their money, including Christians and even congregations. They have saved up millions but simply will not put it into action. The money just sits in a bank account. Even though God calls us to be good stewards of our money, He also calls on us to be generous and giving (1 Timothy 6:17-19; 2 Corinthians 9:7). Certainly the Lord would rather see full pews, helpful congregations, and generous Christians over full bank accounts.
Here is what Jesus said on this topic, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). After telling a parable about the futility of a man who stored up a huge amount of possessions but was about to die (Luke 12:16-20), Christ said, “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
Let’s strive to be to be generous and giving with our money and not stingy penny pinchers. When the Lord comes again or requires our life, will He find our money rotting in a bank account? Hopefully He will see that we used our money to help others, thus storing our treasures up in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20).