Riches Part II — God might make you rich… but beware

February 11, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 4:42 pm   Category: Money and getting gain,Mormon Culture/Practices

The comments for my previous post on the tenuous relationship between worldly riches and righteousness really got me thinking. A rich (but apparently righteous) anonymous saint made some very insightful comments that brought new ideas to my mind. I’m now starting to wonder if the Lord really does “bless” us with riches sometimes in this life. Not so we can live it up, but to see if we’ll actually keep our covenants and let go of it.

Now think about it, if we are ever going to be exalted we are first going to have to be like Christ. The scriptures are replete with this message.

Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
(3 Ne. 12: 48, Matt. 5: 48)

And know ye that ye shall be judges of this people, according to the judgment which I shall give unto you, which shall be just. Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am..
(3 Ne. 27: 27)

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
(1 Jn. 3: 2)

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
(Moro. 7: 48)

So if we are where we are on this earth based on pre-mortal merit (and one of these days I may go into more detail on that subject), and if we will continue in this merit/progression program after this life, is it a stretch to assume that somewhere along the eternal line we are going to have to prove we really will live the law of consecration? If that logic holds then the next question is how will we prove we are willing to do so? I suspect we are going to have to at some point in our existence put our money where our mouth is.

Now consecrating our excess money to the Church and the poor is not something we can very well do when we have no money, so perhaps God does help some Saints get rich. Is it a blessing or a curse? Perhaps it should be considered mostly a test. Some people will pass such a test and others won’t. Consider the case of the rich young man who went away sorrowing as compared to the twelve who had “forsaken all, and followed” Christ.

If we can use just what we need and give the rest away in the manner the apostles and many other Saints have throughout time (Enoch, Abraham, Lehi, etc.) have done riches will be a great blessing. If, like the rich young man, we unwilling to give it all to the poor, but rather consume the riches will be a horrible curse.

So there you have it… God will probably bless us with riches if we are ready for them. How will we know if we are ready for this test? Jacob teaches we will know because we will happily give it away.

What good is it getting rich then? Perhaps getting rich and giving it away is the way to actually get rich. “But the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Cor. 13:13) He that hath eternal life is rich. (D&C 6:7)

So let me have it — Is this true doctrine or false? How are we Mormons doing regarding riches? (Do you ever wonder how many saints are rich but don’t look it?)


  1. I remember reading Brigham Young about being sent around to collect excess and getting offered a share of a horse — for five times what the horse was worth (I’ve got this horse, I don’t need all of it, just $25.00 worth of it, when the horse was worth $5.00).

    Sometimes we are like that, sometimes we are improvident.

    It is an interesting area. 

    Posted by Stephen M (Ethesis)

    Comment by Anonymous — February 14, 2005 @ 7:36 pm

  2. Thanks for your insights on this Stephen. It’s a difficult subject because when we’re poor it sounds like a ridiculous subject and when we’re rich we don’t want to think about it. 

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — February 14, 2005 @ 10:48 pm

  3. I’ve been both (well, actually just really poor and in the bottom part of the top 1% — which is surprisingly easy) and known people at both ends.

    I’ve also known people at both ends of the charity scale (people who made a lot of money and the lion’s share went to charity, people who gave nothing, people who gave a lot and looked like they were giving nothing, etc.).

    I’ve thought about it a lot. Right now I’m in a job that pays about half of what I could make if I talked with headhunters more, but it gives me my weekends free, a bit of flextime, and the chance to come home at 5:30 every night.

    My wife works, but only because the Spirit blungeoned her into graduate school and through the program, and not as much as she could (because we would all rather have her around instead of the money). She is a CRNA, I’m a litigator, and we spend a lot of time on family.

    I’ve thought about it, looking at family (in my mom’s family you needed to be Greek, a millionaire and a PhD to meet their standards), friends and those we meet (I depose surgeons who are making 2-3 million a year their second year out of residency, MDs in anesthesia who are making six million a year and in commercial lines businessmen who have built up successful businesses. A friend’s brother sold out of his chain of hospice care and bought Op’s old house. In his family he has his successful millionaire brother, his recently 100 million dollar man, the one who died, and himself, the disabled faculty member from a law school, living on very very modest disability [for both he and his wife]. Interesting to watch.

    So, I don’t think a lot on the subject, but I do think about it from time to time, and have since I was young. 

    Posted by Stephen M (Ethesis)

    Comment by Anonymous — February 15, 2005 @ 6:41 am

  4. Those are some excellent thoughts, Stephen. And you bring up some issues that I didn’t even cover — namely the way we spend our time and talents. Through the law of consecration the Lord seems to be at least as interested in our time and talents as he is in our stewardship over our stuff and money. There are clearly spiritual risks associated with being in that top 1% of income, but the risks are exacerbated when getting there takes nearly all of our time and talents too! To get to the top 1% most (or all) professions does require total consecration ? and what we consecrate ourselves to is our god? (This clearly deserves a post of its own).

    Anyway, when it come to the money portion of this, I had my eyes opened several years ago after reading several business books like The Millionaire Next Door, Rich Dad Poor Dad, The Richest Man in Babylon , etc. The thing I learned was that there really was such a thing as passive revenue. That is, there are ways in our economy to buy or build things or systems that make money for you instead of having to make it all yourself. (Those things include investments like real estate, stocks, bonds, businesses that other people run for you, property you rent out, and whatnot.) I?ve focused my business energy in that direction since that time and it has begun bearing fruit for our family. The reason I did this was not so I could make millions of dollars a year (which I suppose is possible if I consecrated my life to the effort) but rather to free up more of my time and talents while still allowing me to pay my bills. So far things are working out and I?ve been diligently trying to use my extra time on something useful. Blogging on the things of eternity is part of that use of time and it has brought me into contact with lots of wonderful people — like you for instance!

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — February 15, 2005 @ 9:06 am

  5. I just found these two related posts and they are fantastic. This is an issue I think about a lot.

    In some ways, I think it is easier for us to consecrate our wealth instead of our time. Many in the church can easily cut an extra large F.O. check when the need arises, but how many of us are willing to get our home teaching done each month, visit the sick, take our turn to clean the building, etc. I find that time is a more precious resource than money with many members of the church. 

    Posted by RS

    Comment by Anonymous — February 23, 2005 @ 3:01 pm

  6. Thanks for the compliment, RS, and welcome! Also, thank you for reminding me about this subject. I had planned on posting a follow up on the time and talents part of consecration — maybe I’ll do that next. 

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — February 23, 2005 @ 4:48 pm