This blog post is about the three important lessons that we can learn from the greatest miser of the world, Hetty Green. Let us look into her life and discover the things that are more important than money.
Henrietta Howland Green or simply known as Hetty is given the title, “The World’s Greatest Miser” by the Guinness Book of World Records. She was born on November 21, 1834 – July 3, 1916.
A miser is a person who hoards money and wealth and spends as little money as possible, and that is exactly what Hetty Green was. Though a wealthy lady, she did all the grocery shopping to save money. She bought crushed cookies because they are cheaper. She ate mostly pies that only cost fifteen cents. She was also said to bring with her dried oatmeal and will just cook it over the radiator. She refused to use hot water and the water heater during winter. One time, she spent the whole night looking for her lost 2-cent stamp only to find out that it was in her pocket all along.
She also washed only the dirtiest parts of her dress to save money on soap. She didn’t want to pay rent for her office. She wore the same black dress and underclothes until they wore out. She would even dare to travel alone just to collect a debt of a few hundred dollars. When she walked out of the house, she would wear a black veil over her face so no one can recognize her. People said that she looked like a witch and she earned the nickname, the “Witch of Wall Street.”
Because of Hetty’s attitude, her marriage was always depressing. She had two children named Sylvia and Ned. Sylvia had only a few friends. Ned suffered the most because of Hetty’s extreme frugality. When Ned broke his legs, Hetty was said to dress both of them in ragged clothes and brought her son to a free clinic. When the doctor asked for a fee, she refused to pay and brought her son home. Eventually, Ned’s broken leg got worse, and it had to be amputated.
At Hetty’s death, she amassed a great fortune that is worth $3.8 billion in today’s money. She died to be the richest woman in America and possibly, the unhappiest woman.
So what can we learn from the life of Henrietta Green? What does her story have to do with our life as a Christian? I want to share with you 3 lessons.
First lesson: Don’t love money
We read in I Timothy 6:10:
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
Money itself is not evil. What’s evil is the love of money. We have seen a lot of suffering and pain in this world that can be traced back to greed and selfishness. We can see that this world has enough resources to feed every human in this world. However, because of the love of money, most people starve and suffer from pestilence and famine.
We see how life can become miserable if we love money more than our relationship with God and each other. Hetty loved money so much that she forgot about her family. We need to remember that no matter how much we love money, money can’t love us back. It is only by having a loving relationship with others that we can have a more fulfilling life.
The Apostle Paul warned us that money can be very seductive. If we let it control us, it will eventually lead us away from our faith and eventually suffer the many consequences of our decision.
Second lesson: Invest on eternal rewards
Matthew 6:19-21 tells us:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves TREASURES IN HEAVEN, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Hetty Green was the richest woman in the world. But where is she now? Her memory is long forgotten by many people. Many people today won’t even recognize her name.We are too familiar with our local sayings here, “Hinde mo
We won’t bring our wealth with us when we die. We came to this world naked. We didn’t bring into this world and it is certain, we can’t bring anything with us when we die. All of our wealth will then be given to those people who haven’t worked hard for it.
Of course, I’m not saying that we don’t work to earn a living. But you need to realize this one thing:
We work to live and not live to work.
There’s a big difference between the two. If we spend all our energies, time, and resources just to accumulate wealth in this world, we are making the biggest mistake of our life!
Yahshua (Jesus) tells us that we can quickly lose our material possession. Our lifetime worth of savings and investments can all be gone with one single fire. We can lose significant wealth when the stock market crashes. All our money can easily come to nothing when we find ourselves six feet in the ground. Thus, the saying of Christ stands true today. Our earthly treasures can easily be destroyed by moth, rust, and thieves.
Thus, the saying of Christ stands true today. Our earthly treasures can easily be destroyed by moth, rust, and thieves.
However, if we lay up treasures in heaven, we can be sure that our investment is SECURE. No man can ever steal and take away our treasures in heaven.
Yahshua went on to say that where your treasure is, there your heart also. So where’s your heart? Are you earthly-minded or heavenly-minded? Are you investing your energy on temporary things or eternal things? Are you concern about your future in God’s kingdom or are you obsessed with just the here and now?
Third Lesson: It is more blessed to give than to receive
We read in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This is a common knowledge but NOT a common practice.
All too often, we know that this verse is showing us the real key to happiness and that is to give. However, sometimes, it is so difficult to believe this saying. Human nature tells us that we are more blessed when we receive something. Christ’s saying runs contrary to our human nature.
But is it really true that it is more blessed to give than to receive? Take for example the life of Hetty Green. Her life was a good example of a life of getting. Her main motivation is to get and get and keep as many money as possible for herself. Was she happy? Was she blessed? Did she have a lot of real friends? Did she have a wonderful marriage? Did her children also live a happy life?
There’s no doubt; happiness and blessedness are found in giving rather than getting. As a matter of fact, studies show that wealth can make people mean and they tend to isolate themselves from others in the fear that people will just take advantage of them.
Here’s something to think about: your greatness does not lie in the things you have. It is in the things you give. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. When you give, you create happiness in others and that happiness will eventually find its way back to you.
More importantly, we must not forget to give back to God. He is the Source of all blessings. It is not a loss when we give to God because after all, He owns everything. We also need to remember that we cannot outgive God. He always gives something greater than what we offer Him.
In the final analysis brethren, we learn from the life of Hetty Green, the greatest miser in the history and the richest woman in America. Let us remember not to love money because it can’t love us back. We need to invest in eternal rewards because it is the only thing that will matter at the end of our lives. And finally, let us live a life of giving.
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Jesus was the only person in history who did everything right—not only in saving the world but also in daily life. He brought significance into everything he did, and by following his example we can learn to live the same way. Jesus was the greatest leader and the most influential person ever.
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