Money
From "Acres of Diamonds"
Russell H. Conwell

  

For a person to have money, even in large sums, is not an inconsistent thing.  We preach against covetousness, and you know we do, in the pulpit, and oftentimes preach against it so long and use the terms about “filthy lucre” so extremely that Christians get the idea that when we stand in the pulpit we believe it is wicked for any person to have money--until the collection-basket goes around, and then we almost swear at the people because they don't give more money.  Oh, the inconsistency of such doctrines as that!

Money is power, and you ought to be reasonably ambitious to have it.  You ought because you can do more good with it than you could without it.  Money printed your Bible, money builds your churches, money sends your missionaries, and money pays your preachers, and you would not have many of them, either, if you did not pay them.  I am always willing that my church should raise my salary, because the church that pays the largest salary always raises it the easiest.  You never knew an exception to it in your life.  The man who gets the largest salary can do the most good with the power that is furnished to him.  Of course he can if his spirit be right to use it for what it is given to him.

I say, then, you ought to have money.  If you can honestly attain unto riches in Philadelphia, it is your Christian and godly duty to do so.  It is an awful mistake of these pious people to think you must be awfully poor in order to be pious.

Some people say, “Don't you sympathize with the poor people?”  Of course I do, or else I would not have been lecturing these years.  I won't give in but what I sympathize with the poor, but the number of poor who are to be sympathized with is very small.  To sympathize with a man whom God has punished for his sins, thus to help him when God would still continue a just punishment, is to do wrong, no doubt about it, and we do that more than we help those who are deserving.  While we should sympathize with God's poor--that is, those who cannot help themselves--let us remember there is not a poor person in the United States who was not made poor by his own shortcomings, or by the shortcomings of someone else.  It is all wrong to be poor, anyhow.  Let us give in to that argument and pass that to one side.

A gentleman gets up back there, and says, “Don't you think there are some things in this world that are better than money?”  Of course I do, but I am talking about money now.  Of course there are some things higher than money.  Oh yes, I know by the grave that has left me standing alone that there are some things in this world that are higher and sweeter and purer than money.  Well do I know there are some things higher and grander than gold.  Love is the grandest thing on God's earth, but fortunate the lover who has plenty of money.  Money is power, money is force, money will do good as well as harm.  In the hands of good men and women it could accomplish, and it has accomplished, good.

I hate to leave that behind me.  I heard a man get up in a prayer-meeting in our city and thank the Lord he was “one of God's poor.”  Well, I wonder what his wife thinks about that?  She earns all the money that comes into that house, and he smokes a part of that on the veranda.  I don't want to see any more of the Lord's poor of that kind, and I don't believe the Lord does.  And yet there are some people who think in order to be pious you must be awfully poor and awfully dirty.  That does not follow at all.  While we sympathize with the poor, let us not teach a doctrine like that.

Yet the age is prejudiced against advising a Christian man or woman (or, as a Jew would say, a godly man or woman) from attaining unto wealth.  The prejudice is so universal and the years are far enough back, I think, for me to safely mention that years ago up at Temple University there was a young man in our theological school who thought he was the only pious student in that department.  He came into my office one evening and sat down by my desk, and said to me:  “Mr. President, I think it is my duty sir, to come in and labor with you.”

“What has happened now?”

Said he, “I heard you say at the Academy, at the Peirce School commencement, that you thought it was an honorable ambition for a young man to desire to have wealth, and that you thought it made him temperate, made him anxious to have a good name, and made him industrious.  You spoke about man's ambition to have money helping to make him a good man.  Sir, I have come to tell you the Holy Bible says that ‘money is the root of all evil.’”

I told him I had never seen it in the Bible, and advised him to go out into the chapel and get the Bible, and show me the place.  So out he went for the Bible, and soon he stalked into my office with the Bible open, with all the bigoted pride of the narrow sectarian, or of one who founds his Christianity on some misinterpretation of Scripture.  He flung the Bible down on my desk, and fairly squealed into my ear:  “There it is, Mr. President; you can read it for yourself.”

I said to him:  “Well, young man, you will learn when you get a little older that you cannot trust another denomination to read the Bible for you.  You belong to another denomination.  You are taught in the theological school, however, that emphasis is exegesis.  Now, will you take that Bible and read it yourself, and give the proper emphasis to it?”

He took the Bible, and proudly read, “’The love of money is the root of all evil.’”

Then he had it right, and when one does quote aright from that same old Book he quotes the absolute truth.  I have lived through fifty years of the mightiest battle that old Book has ever fought, and I have lived to see its banners flying free; for never in the history of this world did the great minds of earth so universally agree that the Bible is true--all true--as they do at this very hour.

So I say that when he quoted right, of course he quoted the absolute truth.  “The love of money is the root of all evil.”  He who tries to attain unto it too quickly, or dishonestly, will fall into many snares, no doubt about that.  The love of money.  What is that?  It is making an idol of money, and idolatry pure and simple everywhere is condemned by the Holy Scriptures and by man's common sense.  The man that worships the dollar instead of thinking of the purposes for which it ought to be used, the man who idolizes simply money, the miser that hordes his money in the cellar, or hides it in his stocking, or refuses to invest it where it will do the world good, that man who hugs the dollar until the eagle squeals has in him the root of all evil.
   
   

Motivational Classics, Volume 1.  Great classics from James Allen, Emerson, Thoreau, Trine, Wilcox, and Marden, all in one volume.  You'll also find inspirational poetry from Wordsworth, Longfellow, Frost, Dickinson, and Browning.

  
  

Money is a needful and precious thing, and when well used, a noble thing,
but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for.
I'd rather see you poor men's wives, if you were happy, beloved,
contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace.

Louisa May Alcott

  

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