1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV) tells us, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
One of the most interesting stories I have heard that accurately portrays the piercing grief one can bring upon oneself by obsessing over money is the story of The Witch of Wall Street.
In the late 1800s, Hetty Green became the richest woman on Wall Street. Having inherited a great some of money from wealthy relatives, including her father, Hetty became a front-runner in the investment world. But Hetty was not the typical Wall Street player. Hetty gave new meaning to the word miser.
Here was a woman worth millions but wore mismatching stockings. Hetty, her investments earning over $500 an hour, once tore apart a carriage looking for a two-cent stamp that had become lost in the compartment. She refused to pay rent on a normal office, so she sat on the floor in the Chemical National Bank’s vault and clipped store coupons while she made her investment decisions.
It seems this woman placed the accumulation of money above almost every other aspect of her life. After arguing with a druggist over the cost of her medicine, she decided she could get him to drop the price of the prescription if she ran home to retrieve an empty bottle to be filled.
When Hetty’s son, Ned, suffered a knee injury, she refused to take him to a doctor, fearing the bill would be more than she was willing to pay. Years later, the child’s leg had to be amputated. If this story is true, I can’t imagine the grief this woman must of felt.
Some might argue that such a person is incapable of feeling the type of anguish she should have demonstrated. But I think that as much as she might have tried to hide her emotions, she had to think of her selfishness every time she saw her son.
Most of us can’t even imagine the kind of wealth Hetty had accumulated by the time she died. By today’s standards she would most likely have been a billionaire. Imagine a billionaire wearing clothes purchased at a rummage sale or tearing apart the interior of a new car to find a 37-cent stamp. It is hard to imagine that kind of obsession for keeping wealth. Most people I know, including myself, have a hard time keeping any sizable sum of money in a savings account.
Imagine how many people Hetty could have fed with that money. Imagine how many people she could have helped to keep their electricity on, during a cold winter, with all that money. And , worst of all, imagine how much more it cost to amputate her son’s leg than it would have cost to take him to the doctor when his knee was first injured.
I realize Hetty Green is not here to defend her decisions and it’s possible not everything that has been written about her is 100 percent accurate. But even if it is all just legend and folklore, lessons can be learned from such tales. Hetty’s piercing grief was not limited to self-inflicted wounds. She left others with plenty of battle scars to contend with. Battle scars that began with the love of money.