Are you cheap? I have Scottish ancestors who were so cheap that they wouldn’t even tip their hats. If fact, legend has it that they married skinny girls so they could buy smaller rings. My dad was so cheap that he would climb into tightly packed subway cars to press his clothing. Here are a few things we Callaways recycled. Chewing gum, teabags, candle wax, cherry pits, chicken bones, lawn clippings and the unpopped kernels of popcorn at the bottom of the bowl. Trust me, nothing was wasted. When you grew up like I did, it’s mystifying to see wealthy people live poorly. Take Hetty Green for instance. At 31 she inherited $7 million and watched it multiply. How? Great success on the New York Stock Exchange helped. And she bought mortgages. Many were on churches. If they couldn’t make payments, Hetty Green foreclosed on them. Yet with all her money, she lived in cheap apartments with no hot water. When she married, she insisted on spending only her husband’s money. Her son lost his leg in a sledding accident because she wouldn’t pay for a doctor.
Nicknamed “Hetty the Hoarder,” and “The Witch of Wall Street,” she was irritable and smelly. Hetty’s out-of-style dresses were ragged and filthy. Co-workers kept their distance. Shop-owners cringed at her arrival. Hetty Green died in 1916 worth many billions of dollars in today’s currency. With access to endless resources, she lived her life in poverty. As crazy as all of this sounds, I think I’m guilty of living poor when I could be living rich. If you have a credit card, it likely came with a limit. But there are no limits on the extravagant riches of God’s grace in Jesus. And the bank is open 24-7.
In Ephesians we discover that we are adopted by God, chosen by Him, united with other believers. We are saved by grace, free of the penalties stacked up against us by our sin. No longer are we strangers, but insiders, gifted by God, servant partners with Jesus in the work he does, fully alive in Jesus, heirs to a great fortune. But these riches aren’t merely for the counting. Each of them invites us to a rich life, a life of joy amid challenges and pain. We are to run on the track God laid out for us, loving others as Christ loved us, living with joy, generosity, and hope.
When Hetty Green died, she left the money to her son Ned who built mansions, bought a private island and constructed the largest yacht known to man. Ironically, when he died, he left the majority to his sister, Sylvia. What did she do with the money of a woman who couldn’t stand to give anything away? She rebelled. When she died in 1951 she left the fortune entirely to charity.